New Scholarship: ‘Gorilla exceptions’ and the ethically apathetic corporate lawyer

A new article on corporate finance lawyers by Steven Vaughan and Emma Oakley is now available here. See below for the abstract:

This paper draws on interviews with 57 corporate finance lawyers working from global law firms based in the City of London. Drawing on this data, we highlight common themes of taking deals at ‘face value’, being the lawyer-technician who uses the law to effect his client’s wishes, and not ‘pushing’ ethics. We suggest that there is an apathy – a lack of concern or interest – about ethics on the part of corporate lawyers. This apathy stems from various sources. It is linked to assumptions about the sorts of clients that large law firms are willing or not willing to act for, and assumptions about the ‘right sort of people’ the firm hires and retains; it is linked to strong notions of role morality; and it is founded on the classic legal ethics ‘standard conception’ principles of neutrality and non-accountability. Our data also highlights a lack of ethical infrastructures in large firms, and a lack of ethical leadership from law firm partners for the associates and trainees working for them.



Groia v. The Law Society of Upper Canada

On June 14, 2016, the Ontario Court of Appeal released its decision in the above matter, dismissing Joseph Groia’s appeal relating to the Law Society Appeal Panel’s findings of professional misconduct against him in relation to his in-court conduct towards opposing counsel and finding, inter alia:

[241]  The requirement of professionalism for lawyers, both inside and outside a courtroom, including zealous advocacy accompanied by courtesy, civility and good faith dealings, secures the nobility of the profession in which lawyers in this province are privileged to practise.  The Appeal Panel concluded that this requirement was breached in this case.  This conclusion, in my opinion, was both reasonable and correct.

For some commentary on this decision, see this article in the Toronto Star, and this blog post by CALE member Tom Harrison.