Misunderstanding Lawyers’ Ethics

The title of Daniel Markovits’s book, A Modern Legal Ethics, gives the impression that it is a comprehensive treatise on contemporary lawyers’ ethics. The contents of the book, however, are both more limited and more expansive than the title suggests. Markovits’s treatment of lawyers’ ethics concerns itself with what he conceives to be the pervasive guilty conscience of practicing lawyers over their “professional viciousness” (p. 36), and how lawyers can achieve a guilt-free professional identity “worthy of … commitment” (p. 2). Markovits’s goal in the book is to “articulat[e] a powerful and distinctively lawyerly virtue” (p. 2), one that will provide “ethical vindication of [lawyers’] professional lives” (p. 5). Markovits believes that, in so doing, he will also offer “insights beyond legal ethics, concerning the generally fractured state of modem moral life” (p. 6).