Masters in Legal Professional Ethics: Abilities, Morals and Uncomfortable Truths


What if I told you... I liked ethics. It was and still is right up my street. I was interested in this topic at the beginning of my BPTC course. That interest originated from my undergraduate, when I spent weeks reading about Jurisprudence and legal theories in preparation for my Jurisprudence coursework. When first introduced to the concept of Professional Ethics at the BPTC, to me at least it was the essence of the legal theory/ies in real life!

The uncomfortable truth is that I failed ethics paper again and again, and ultimately this led to failing the whole BPTC. I can blame the paper, the BSB or the provider but that is not the answer. Because this is not about apportioning blame. It is about learning and about understanding that the person of the highest integrity and ability, can fail this exam miserably, because of their lack of anticipation of the examiner's needs. In other words, there is not one answer to an ethical problem question and the exam marking criteria gives only one or very rigid answers. Ethics is anything but rigid. That is the problem with this exam. It insists on being relevant to the Code of Conduct and fails to see that there is more to ethics in real life than ability to recite the Code.

What is great about Jurisprudence at the undergraduate level is that students are free to go on and on about legal theories they agree or disagree with, contrast them and pick the side should they wish. It is amazing topic to discuss with someone of different social status and their perception of what the law is and what it should be, and whether it is inherently moral. Their perception is very likely to be different from someone who hasn't got very much to their social status yet - someone who is relatively naïve in believing in the justice system or worse... in the idea that law is inherently moral and courts exist to serve justice by looking behind the rules and seeing that morality.

This made me wonder whether Ethics would be better assessed/more effective as coursework or better a Masters dissertation? Think about it, if lawyers do not understand and do not project and do not promote ethics everywhere they go and in everything they do, then who ever will? Would BPTC be of more value for money if combined with Masters in Legal Professional Ethics? And I can hear those who don't like the topic of Ethics so much and wouldn't wish to do anymore than absolutely necessary... indeed, if you don't then what the hell are you doing in here anyway?

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