Bond University
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Abstract

What does it mean to be a “professional?” The question lies at the heart of any attempt to teach professional ethics. Yet, despite its undeniable centrality, there is remarkably little consensus among the current generation of legal ethics teachers about what this term actually means beyond its obvious historical and descriptive connotations. Few would deny, of course, that lawyers have traditionally been considered “professionals” or that, in the minds of many, this designation carries with it certain normative implications about the relationship between lawyers and society that links the “legal profession” to the small number of other occupational groups (for example, doctors) that are also considered professionals. What has become quite controversial, however, is whether these normative claims are either true or, if true, socially desirable. Moreover, even among those who believe that the concept has some independent normative value worth preserving, the claim that “professionalism” can be taught remains deeply controversial.

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