English law schools skimp on ethics training, says academic

THE BAR, Law Society and law teachers are falling down on ethical training, claims a legal academic.

And he says the English bodies are putting out misleading information on the extent to which the subject is taught.

Delivering a paper to last week's International Bar Association conference, the University of Warwick's Roger Burridge said English legal education “largely ignored” the significance of ethics and the concept primarily existed in lawyers' “advertising puff”.

“The importance legal ethics enjoys in America would surprise all but a few English academics. The law and ethics of lawyering are a central facet of legal education there. Professional responsibility courses are offered in all law schools in the US and required for graduation in nearly all,” he said.

He added: “I do not wish to suggest that they [English lawyers] are any more venal, unprincipled or lacking in individual morality or concern for justice than lawyers from elsewhere. And academics are as much, if not more, to blame.”

He said universities were “reluctant to sully their intellectual enquiries with the tawdry affairs of legal practice”.