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Why teach ethics?

Submitted by Juan Beca on Sun, 07-06-2014
Long title
Why do we teach legal ethics?
Beca, Juan P.
Author(s)' contact information
Catholic University of Temuco, Chile
Conference title
International Legal Ethics Conference VI
Conference location
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Asking why we teach legal ethics is important both for civil and common law countries, regardless if the course is mandatory or not.
The paper deals with the understanding of ethics, deontology and professional ethics, along with stages of moral development, in order to state the importance of teaching values at a university level. In addition, the paper will show how teachers are models for students, and the responsibility this fact implies.
As lawyers deal with choices, law students should be prepared and skilled to do so. In order to prepare them we should go beyond a mere teaching, but have them to truly learn how to do it. We discuss the best way to do so, whether in a specific course or transversally across the curriculum.
We compare the interviews results to students in two law schools. In one case, interviews were done where professional ethics is a mandatory course; and the other, where it is not, but ethics is addressed in different courses.
We conclude that teaching ethics gives the student not only technical knowledge but also helps to develop professional values; also that a specific course does not add more conceptual knowledge, but it does enhance responsibility; and that a transversal approach, along with the specific course, is the best way to include ethical teaching/learning in the curriculum.
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