This is a week for New Year’s resolutions, generally a time for one to accept certain responsibilities hitherto ignored. And yet we seem hardwired not to. When Cain uttered his famously contemptuous remark — “Am I my brother’s keeper?” — he became the paradigmatic evader of responsibility. With his brother dead or still lying in extremis at the side of the road, Cain tersely stated his worldview that everyone needs to simply look out for oneself.

All but the most heretical attorneys would decry Cain’s wholesale abandoning of any accountability for Abel’s death. True, personal responsibility is crucial to the rule of law. But beyond that, has the legal profession adequately rejected Cain’s credo that we need only save ourselves? Think about the lawyers, whom each of us can easily call to mind, whose conduct appears to be “on the edge” but who we nonetheless largely ignore. Should questions arise about our own conduct, precisely because of such willingness to let our colleagues’ behavior go unchecked? The longer we avoid such questions, the more we place at risk our collective professional reputation.