Teaching Legal Ethics to Law Students: Why, What, How and Who Might Teach?

Date01 January 2016
Published date01 January 2016
DOI10.1177/2322005815607139
Subject MatterEssays
Essay
Teaching Legal Ethics to Law
Students: Why, What, How
and Who Might Teach?
Juan Beca1
Abstract
The article explores what a specific course on ethics should be in a law school, and what is the impact
of such curricular changes on this field.
Learning of ethics is not always regarded as something important in the law curriculum, but it is
crucial to education of future lawyers. Teaching ethics in law schools is also necessary to deal with
public perception about the legal profession. Lawyers have to make choices all the time, so students
need to be prepared to do so. Ethical decision making should be taught to students, giving them
the necessary tools to go through a discernment process. It is also essential to cultivate students’
autonomy to make decisions. An active-participative paradigm might enhance learning among
students. They can learn more while doing different activities, and especially working in groups with
their peers, to solve ethical dilemmas. In order to be prepared to solve those dilemmas, students need
to learn a discernment method. We offer one in particular: the See–Judge–Act method.
There are three approaches to what students should be challenged to learn: knowing the rules,
working with dilemmas and judging. We advocate for the third one. We explore the necessary relation
of an ethics course with legal clinics and other courses, stating that teaching legal ethics needs a
context, and that the context may be given by the other courses. Having an interdisciplinary approach
to ethics is beneficial for students, and this can be achieved by sharing the class with a non-lawyer
professor.
Different Approaches to Deal with Ethical Education
in the Law Curriculum
Traditionally, law students used to graduate with an ethical awareness dealing with ethical issues starting
from different juridical disciplines, and having the professors as role models. ‘For many students, law
professors are the first lawyers they meet and observe. In our conduct toward our students, we model
1 Law School, Catholic University of Temuco, Chile.
Asian Journal of Legal Education
3(1) 85–94
© 2016 The West Bengal National
University of Juridical Sciences
SAGE Publications
sagepub.in/home.nav
DOI: 10.1177/2322005815607139
http://ale.sagepub.com
Corresponding author:
Juan Beca, Manuel Montt 056, Temuco, Chile.
E-mail: jbeca@uct.cl

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT