find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Business mentality challenges ethics

Business mentality challenges ethics

LAWYERS ARE redefining themselves as business players as well as professionals, placing professional ethics at risk, according to Queensland Law Society president, Joe Pinder. Pinder told…

LAWYERS ARE redefining themselves as business players as well as professionals, placing professional ethics at risk, according to Queensland Law Society president, Joe Pinder.

Pinder told Lawyers Weekly that firms were being run with more of a business mentality, largely due to outside forces such as competition from the accounting profession.

“I think accountants were far quicker to take up that lead and to make their practices businesses. They had some dalliances into trying to run legal firms. They now compete with lawyers in a number of areas, including trusts and estate planning and those types of things. So I tend to think that the accountants dragged us along,” he said.

However, in contrast to accountants, Pinder said that lawyers operate under more stringent ethical obligations — including obligations to their colleagues and the court that override their obligations to themselves and their clients.

“This places significant pressure on the legal profession. When you’re dealing with something, you can’t just say, ‘I’m undertaking this particular matter for a client and the client has told me to do X. I’ll do X’. You’ve got to make sure that you act ethically; that you comply with a whole host of legislative guidelines that might be imposed on you; that you discharge your duty to your colleagues; that you discharge your duty to the court.

“In the type of work I do, which is litigious work, if you had some material and said to the client, ‘This stuff exists’ and they said, ‘Well fine, that’s prejudicial, I’m instructing you not to disclose it’, you couldn’t do that,” Pinder said.

“There would be a legislative requirement. There would be the rules of court that would compel you to do it and you’ve got a duty not to mislead your colleagues and a duty not to mislead the court. So if you were in that situation you would have to say to the person, ‘You either accept the advice or bye bye, you go and get another lawyer’; and those things don’t restrain accountants or other professions to the same extent. So there are internal conflicts in the course of working as a lawyer that you have to resolve.”

Pinder warned that lawyers must not allow professional ethics to become a casualty of the increasing number of business considerations permeating their work.

“I think that there is pressure for the profession to perform as a business, so we really need to keep our eye on the ball about what we know the core values and obligations on us as a profession are,” he said.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Business mentality challenges ethics
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...