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The Lawyer, Ethics and Popular Culture : Legal Heroes and Practising Villains by Craig Newbery-Jones

The History of the Legal Profession in the Nineteenth Century

"A barrister may be a very honourable man; but many things which professional etiquette allows him to do; would be thought disgraceful and dishonest among ordinary people." (Punch, Vol.9 (1845), p.113).

Event details

Popular culture has often depicted the lawyer in an unsavoury light. These depictions are informed by popular perceptions of legal ethics which are widely considered to be minimal, unenforced and widely circumvented. Yet, popular culture also allows us a glimpse of legal heroes and ethical champions, to which ambitious lawyers can aspire. Nuanced images of lawyers have permeated popular culture, from the plays of Shakespeare, to Atticus Finch in Harper Lees To Kill a Mocking Bird, to Bob Odenkirks recent portrayal of Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad. What do these sources tell us about popular perceptions of professional ethics? And to what extent are they influenced by the regulation of the legal profession? This lecture will examine the symbiotic relationship between the changing regulation of the profession and the representation of lawyers in popular culture.

Furthermore, the teaching of legal ethics has recently been explored as part of the Legal Education and Training Review (report pending), with particular emphasis being placed on the lack of ethical education in the undergraduate curriculum. This lecture will exemplify how popular culture can be used as a lens to teach legal ethics at undergraduate level, in order “to stimulate students to reflect on the nature of legal ethics, equip students with the knowledge and understanding to behave ethically and to play an active role in the formation of professional ethics.” (Boon, A. 2010)

With closing speech from Professor Janice Kay (Deputy Vice Chancellor Education).


Lecture recording

A recording of the Craig Newbery-Jones' 'The Lawyer, Ethics and Popular Culture' lecture is available to view.

Other lectures in the Fruni Open Lecture series:

Simulating Reality: From Cricket to Crickets by Dr Philippe Young

Paradigm Lost: the earliest colonization of the Americas by Professor Bruce Bradley

Shakespeare and the Remains of Richard III by Professor Philip Schwyzer

Whatever it Takes to Understand: Why Studying English in a Digital Age Might Mean Not Being Scared of Science (or Philosophy, or Biology, or Neuropsychology, or Art History, or Computers, or Math, or Technology, or...) by Dr Matthew Hayler



Alumni Auditorium