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Legal Ethics - Essay Example

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Media images propagated on film and TV have projected an image of lawyers as unprofessional, unethical people resulting in a corresponding deterioration in the perception of lawyer image among the public. Such negative perceptions also have an adverse impact on law students who…
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Legal Ethics
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Legal Ethics

Download file to see previous pages... A Morgan poll conducted in Australia showed that the public has a poor opinion of lawyers1 which has been deteriorating over the years, findings which replicated those of the American Harris Poll conducted in 1997, showing a deterioration in the perception of lawyer prestige from 36% in 1977 to 18% in 1997.2
The movies portray lawyers in an adversarial, litigating role at trial courts, especially in the case of women lawyers.3 This highlights the aggressive and confrontational role of lawyers and enhances this image in the public mind. Graham and Maschio have pointed out how the conventions of movies interact with the conventions of law4. Through a particular depiction of various categories of lawyers in films, such as female or gay lawyers, the general image of such lawyers may be distorted among members of the public.
Rapoport has pointed out how the public images of lawyers as revealed on the silver screen could also affect the manner in which lawyers view ethical dilemmas and make ethical choices, with law students being particularly susceptible to such images.5 The notion of professional and ethical responsibility of lawyers is being increasingly undermined by the screen images and Ross and MacFarlane have highlighted evidence which suggests that students “do not take the courses in professional responsibility seriously.”6 In general, students take up courses in law for the purpose of better earnings, rather than being motivated by the desire to practice law in an ethical manner7. Moreover, films tend to portray lawyers as bad characters who conduct themselves in an unprofessional manner, which undermines the confidence of the public and also affects the perceptions of new emerging lawyers.
Asimov provides several examples of such negative portrayals of lawyers in films– for example, the character of arrogant and rude lawyer Martin Vale in the film “Primal fear”, or the drug abusing character of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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