A Newly Published Classic on the Ethics and Sociology of Corporate Lawyers' Work

Robert E. Rosen, Lawyers in Corporate Decision-Making (Quid Pro Books 2010). Christine Parker Here is one way of describing the ethical challenge facing contemporary lawyers: Traditionally, professions transcended the seller-customer relation because they met the challenge of moral difficulties, including evil, and emerged not only unscathed but triumphant. Today, legal professionals, fearing they cannot resist, let alone control, the moral pollution around them, retreat into technical virtuosity and specialized expertise. Cleanliness has become the aspiration of the profession. Lawyers seek purity by defining their cases and their work solely in terms of the abstract norms of professional knowledge. At the same time, they argue that to do anything else is dangerous and potentially immoral. To be anything other than a supplier of technical information is to dominate clients. At its best, it is paternalistic. At worst, it is power mongering. The claim is that there is no ethical way for the lawyer to meet moral difficulties. (PP. 158-9.) It is as apposite a criticism of corporate lawyers-and their abdication from ethical commitment-today as it was in 1984 when it was first written. The paragraph is found near the end of Professor Rob Rosen's book on lawyers in corporate decision-making that has recently appeared as part of an initiative to publish "influential" unpublished doctoral theses-in this case from UC Berkeley's sociology department. What an excellent choice for such a series! Although Rosen has drawn on and published parts of the thesis in journal articles, it is a real treat to have the whole thesis now readily available, and with a Foreword by Professor Sung Hui Kim. Continue reading "A Newly Published Classic on the Ethics and Sociology of Corporate Lawyers' Work"

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