Would you change the facts of a case to ensure your win or would you rather stick to the facts and take your chances? Most of us would opt for the latter but when it really comes down to it, when you’re actually in the situation, decisions aren’t exactly black and white. So, what do you do?
Students are seldom exposed to ethical issues in the substantive courses they opt for, such as contracts, property, torts, tax, and business law. For reasons I am yet to understand, law professors fail to incorporate ethics and professionalism issues in these and other doctrinal courses, but instead focus solely on legal principles. But here’s my question, what do we do with all the practical knowledge without knowing how to actually put our point forward in the real world? In today’s time where a company named after a fruit is all over the world, and people are planning to visit the Moon as a vacation spot, ethics sometimes takes a backseat because who doesn’t want a car with a sunroof or a house next to the beach. Right? Now I want you to take a deep breath and then really think about career we all chose. We aren’t in the business of minting money; our job is to make sure the accused is punished and that justice prevails. In my opinion a person can only be taught ethics while they are in school, because once you are out there in the real world there is just a lot to deflect you from the path you choose.
When I use the sentence “not everything is black and white” what I mean is that not everyone who doesn’t choose the correct or “Ethical” path is wrong. In a country like ours where the population can surpass the total number of trees we have in India and the law-making is still moving at a slow pace, the lawyers do the best they can with the laws they have. What needs to change is the way we look at a situation. As lawyers in the making, we are taught various laws, case studies etc that give us a gazillion ways to hoodwink the system but no one really tells us what the right way is!! Let me give you all an instance- a poor, ragged looking man trespasses a property in search for food and money, as fate would have it, the man gets caught and beaten to almost death by the guards. Further, the said man comes to you to fight his case. One can clearly see that even though the man is at fault for attempt of stealing but he was also beaten like an animal for just trying to survive in this world however he knew best. Now if in a case like this, if you fight his case and prove him to be innocent, would that be unethical on your part for letting a criminal get away?
The sad truth is becoming more and more apparent; our profession has seen a steady decline by casting aside established traditions and canons of professional ethics that evolved over centuries …When we speak of the decline in “ethical” standards, we should not use the term ‘ethics’ to mean only compliance with the Ten Commandments or other standards of common, basic morality…..A lawyer can [adhere to all these requirements] and still fail to meet the standards of a true profession, standards calling for fearless advocacy within established canons of service. IN the end, I’d like to leave you with a thought to ponder upon “Always choose the harder right than the easier wrong.”
Written by Arundhati Bhatia (4th year)