There have been many articles about the ethical decline of lawyers. The current research suggests that practicing attorneys may overlook their personal morals and judgment when advocating on behalf of their clients. A recent survey showed that when faced with an ethical dilemma, young lawyers “retreat[ed] into their role as advocates” by focusing on legal issues rather than on social issues. In response to this perceived ethical decline, various scholars are now suggesting that lawyers “move beyond this ethical suspension to a place where [one’s] personal ethical principles take precedence.” Others argue that law schools should take responsibility for the ethical development of their students by improving their legal ethics instruction. Still others suggest that “law schools have a duty to morally educate their students” because of the significant situations lawyers confront each day. The resolution of this debate may depend upon “a renewed, fresh emphasis on educating attorneys and law students about the importance of integrating their personal morality and their professional role.”
Should legal instruction help law students determine their core values and develop their personal moral compass before they are amidst the pressures of law practice? One commentator frames the issue as follows: “Only if legal education recognizes that lawyering includes an acknowledgement of personal beliefs, even if this reflection is simply cursory, will lawyers be more human.” If we agree that law schools bear a responsibility to help create “ethical” attorneys (or at least that law schools should discuss the contribution of personal beliefs and values to good lawyering), how do we go about it?
If law schools want to create professional and ethical lawyers, law schools need to integrate ethics and personal values into the traditional law school curriculum. Waldorf Education, a progressive educational methodology, can serve as a model for this integration. The next section of this article defines and explores the basic principles of Waldorf Education. Part III then examines how the principles of Waldorf Education may be applied to legal education. Part IV discusses various practical suggestions as to how the proposed integration of ethics and values into the traditional curriculum might occur. In Part V, I argue that although law schools have a responsibility to confront the role of ethics in practice, ultimately, each individual student must take personal responsibility for his or her own ethical and moral development. Finally, the article concludes by asserting that an integration by law schools of academics, professionalism, and personal values within the curriculum could go a long way towards producing ethical and successful lawyers. . . .