Back to the future: Lawyers and legal ethics in the past

When Ernest Hemingway wrote his quasi-tragic masterpiece 'The Sun Also Rises,' a story of love and loss, and how pretty life could have been he was only writing that there is nothing new under the sun. Such is an aspect of the human condition. In a previous work, I delineated the problem in the present understanding of legal ethics, and suggested a new hierarchy of lawyer loyalties. These were to include a higher duty of loyalty to protecting the individual autonomy values as best enshrined in the first amendment, a secondary duty to the lawyer's own conscience, a tertiary duty to the law of the land, and remaining duties to the particular client and society in that order. The calm perspective of history indicates the above proposal to be in the mainstream - even though presently it is not. Thus, for the major purpose of gaining a better perspective on the present situation, the lawyer and legal ethics of the past will be discussed. It is hoped that there will be lessons learned from parts of this brief history.
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