Is working at a big law firm unethical? Copies of a manifesto making this argument, “On Being a Happy, Healthy, and Ethical Member of an Unhappy, Unhealthy, and Unethical Profession,” have lately been passed around law schools like samizdat. Patrick Schiltz, a professor at University of Notre Dame Law School, takes anti-firm animus to a new level by framing an old (losing) argument in moral terms.
The logic is simple: Big-firm lawyers are workaholics, and workaholics are unethical. “To practice law ethically…you must live a balanced life,” he writes in the new Vanderbilt Law Review. “[B]eing admitted to the bar does not absolve you of your responsibility outside of work–to your family, to your friends, to your community, and, if you’re a person of faith, to your God.” Also, he might have added, to yourself.
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