• Robert Spicer

Law as a potentially corrupting profession through money fetishism?

Law as a potentially corrupting profession

The rule of law by money can corrupt many young lawyers. They may start as idealists, believing that English law can be equated with justice and that they can help to right wrongs. They have seen television programmes where glamorous young crusaders win legal battles against the forces of evil. They are ambitious, energetic and altruistic. They have invested large sums of money in the qualification process. As their careers progress, they may be changed in the following ways:

  • A widespread ethos of pomposity and arrogance starts to influence them. The dependence of less informed people upon them for advice and information, and the acknowledgment by non-lawyers of their superior skills, can mean that they become patronising without even being aware of it.

  • The injustices which they see every day of their working lives can harden and coarsen their attitude to clients. They become increasingly cynical and indifferent to human suffering. Gradually, they are influenced by money-worship, by materialism and by the aims of the profession seen almost exclusively in terms of financial success and failure. Their youthful idealism is replaced by an unfeeling preoccupation with profit. It is very difficult for any young lawyer entering the profession to remain untainted by hourly charging rates, success fees and bottom-line cash flow.

  • If a response to this is that the profession cannot function on fresh air, that if lawyers did not make a profit the profession would wilt and fade away, then a reply could be that any supposedly socially useful profession which is largely obsessed with money making could, in the interests of a healthy society, usefully fade away.

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