Understanding the Ethics of my Major
Ethics is a common term used in day-to-day activities especially in professional contexts and workplaces. Having a broad meaning, its definition is seen to vary from one individual to another based on the actions that an individual considers right or wrong. On a general perspective, ethics can be defined as a set of principles and concepts which guide people in determining what behaviors or actions help or cause harm to sentient creatures (Wheeler, 2007). At times, the concept of ethics is used interchangeably with ‘morality’ and thus, occasionally it can be used to refer to the moral principles of a particular person, group, or tradition. Most importantly, ethics can refer to the standards of what is right or wrong, and thus, in order to understand ethics, focus should be on the development of these standards while ensuring that they do not deviate from what is considered ethical in society. This assignment enhances awareness of the crucial role played by ethics in everyday life. As such, it discusses ethical behaviors in general life, ethics and its importance in the field of law, and provides a real-life example of unethical behavior that occurred in a law firm or organization.
Ethical behavior refers to how an individual or group of people act in ways that are consistent or in line with what society perceives as good and acceptable values (Wheeler, 2007). There are myriads of behaviors that are considered ethical in general life. (1) when people are honest in everything they do; they are said to be exhibiting ethical behavior. (2) exhibiting integrity, which implies that a person keeps promises and agreements, is considered an ethical behavior. (3) carefulness, which refers to the avoidance of negligence, irresponsibility, and carelessness, is ethical behavior. (4) upholding objectivity is an ethical behavior, and it means avoidance of deviating to the core or important issues in specific contexts. (5) having respect for intellectual property highlights exhibition of ethical behavior, and this is involves giving credit where it is due. (6) openness, which is exhibited when a person shares information and other perspectives to those around in the workplace and also readily accept criticism. (7) avoiding discrimination based on religion, sex, socioeconomic background, or race. (8) abiding by rules and other legalities is considered ethical behavior, and this involves following the set regulations or legislations in the workplace. (9) confidentiality, which is one of the most important perspectives considered ethical behavior meaning that a person protects secrets or personal information or organizational data. (10) respect for colleagues and those around him or her, which in the long run assures equal and fair treatment.
Importance of Ethics in Law
In recent years, much attention has been on the field of law due to its association with the criminal justice system, which plays a key role in the maintenance of law and order in society. Many people agree that ethics govern every interaction in the law profession, especially how lawyers interact with clients. Ethics also influences the decision-making process made by a lawyer or advocate and how he or she interprets the law. However, several attorneys in the field of law today are involved in unethical behaviors, which have put their careers in jeopardy. The case of Lawyer Stanley Chesley, a renowned lawyer in Kentucky, is a perfect example of unethical behavior. While conducting a $200 million class-action lawsuit over a diet drug fen-phen, Chesley went ahead to award himself a $20 million fee. Besides, he masked unethical behavior exhibited by other lawyers in the case resulting in the payment of fewer funds to the clients of the lawsuit. Chesley’s involvement in unethical behavior resulted in his disbarment despite his prominence (Chuck Gallagher, 2016).
Ethical issues are common in the field of law, and they affect not only those involved in the law field but also other individuals who are not part of the field. As such, there are several ethical issues encountered in the field of law, and these include putting self-interests before the clients’ interests and conflicts of interest, where a lawyer represents two different clients in the same matter. Third, lack of confidentiality is common in law firms, and this is when an attorney illegally reveals a client’s or organizational information to a third party. Fourth, poor lawyer-client relationships are common in law firms, and they affect service delivery. Other major ethical issues in law firms and the general field of law include but are not limited to overlooking marketing rules, poor or no communication with clients, violation of fee agreements, irresponsibility on the side of the lawyer, immature termination of lawyer-client relationship, and ineffective client advocacy (Parker et al, 2008).
Briefly, ethics is a set of principles and concepts which guide people in determining what behaviors or actions help or cause harm to sentient creatures. Exhibition of ethical behavior such as openness, dignity, and honesty, is important in building a society that thrives on ethics. In the field of law, there is no doubt that most of the disagreements and constant conflicts are as a result of unethical behaviors. It is important to embrace ethics in every law-related context particularly for students with an interest in pursuing law.
Chuck Gallagher (2016). Lawyer Stanley Chesley disbarred over Unethical Behavior! Business Ethics Blog. Retrieved from http://www.chuckgallagher.com/lawyer-stanley-chesley-disbarred-over-unethical-behavior/
Parker, C., Evans, A., Haller, L., & Le Mire, S. (2008). Ethical Infrastructure of Legal Practice in Larger Law Firms: Values, Policy and Behaviour, The. UNSWLJ, 31, 158. Retrieved from http://eprints.usq.edu.au/4675/2/Parker_Evans_Haller_LeMire_Mortensen_Author_version.pdf
Wheeler, S. (2007). Ethics in the workplace. Law and Critique, 18(1), 1-28. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10978-006-9008-9#/page-1