In our laudable attempt to train law students to "think like lawyers" by teaching them legal method, we must not lose sight of the fact that questions of professional responsibility cannot properly be resolved with the same legal framework of analysis. Rather,we must see that as professionals with almost exclusive access to our system of justice, we have moral responsibilities totally outside the scope of the legal rules, and not amenable to analysis in terms of legal method. It is time to return to consideration of the moral and spiritual foundations of our legal system. It is time to train our law students to face the hard issues with a conceptual framework that transcends legal reasoning alone. It is a mistake to think that moral philosophy and value inquiry have no place in law offices or law schools. Laws reflect, and sometimes even help to form, the moral beliefs of society. To neglect the moral basis of law is to neglect the lifeblood of the norms that establish social order and preserve liberty. Lawyers who are truly sensitive to their role as moral agents in society will view their responsibility to the public as a necessary consequence of being entrusted with exclusive access to our cherished system of justice.
Sandra D. O'Connor,
Professional Competence and Social Responsibility: Fulfilling the Vanderbilt Vision,
36 Vanderbilt Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.vanderbilt.edu/vlr/vol36/iss1/1