The Jurisprudential Turn in Legal Ethics

This Article chronicles the paradigmatic shift in legal ethics from a moral philosophical approach to a jurisprudential one. This Article critically examines the emerging uses of jurisprudential theory and argues that jurisprudential theory presents an attractive alternative to moral theory in legal ethics because it provides a rubric for limiting lawyers’ no-holds-barred partisan manipulation of law that springs directly from the lawyer’s professional duties rather than competing with them. It critiques the two major schools of thought in the “jurisprudence of lawyering,” and questions the common framework within each jurisprudential school, which assigns lawyers a role as case-by-case lawmakers, suggesting that this framework imposes an inappropriately lawyer-centered focus on assessments of the legitimacy of law that more properly belong to clients.