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The Good Lawyer


Cite as: Jan/Feb 2015 89 (1/2) LIJ, p.15

Technical and moral challenges need to be considered equally by lawyers, according to Monash University professor of law Adrian Evans, who has just published The Good Lawyer, a book on legal ethics.

“Good lawyering, looked at as a moral and a technical task, is best seen as a thoughtful process. We spend a lot of time thinking through our technical legal challenges to try to reduce the number of unforeseen dramas for our clients. But somehow, there is less pre-emptive thinking about ethical challenges which can be as painful as any negligence. If you are already a lawyer, this book may be of interest where it focuses on improving our framework for ethical thought,” Professor Evans said.

The Good Lawyer was launched at Monash Law Chambers on 13 November by Legal Services Commissioner Michael McGarvie.

“This book analyses what it takes to be a good lawyer and where the fault lines might be found. Halfway through the book the author makes a profound point – the need for you to be a better lawyer will never be satisfied. Better lawyering is best done by good lawyers, but a lawyer’s goodness can be nurtured and developed,” Mr McGarvie said.

The book includes examples of ethical failures by lawyers including the cases of Mullins (failure to reveal), Meek (rank demotion concealed by expert witness) and James Hardie (advice to shift to the Netherlands). Other examples of active and passive deceit in the book are the Australian Wheat Board case (lawyers advising deceit) and that of McGee (South Australian DPP in hit-and-run concealment).

“These cases epitomise the erosion of the public’s long-held view that there should be a privileged role given to lawyers in the community,” Mr McGarvie said, adding the book was aimed at the next generation of lawyer leaders. “Fully aware of the high incidence of depression and burnout among lawyers, Professor Evans suggests vaccinating law students against depression and apathy by injecting them with ethical awareness and washing them with justice.

“A good lawyer for Professor Evans is one who stays engaged with practice, seeks justice and avoids exhaustion or disillusion. Better lawyers, he argues, need an exciting, compassionate and justice-focused workplace where character development, judgment and resilience are prioritised and where ethics are valued, not just as a creed to live by but as a business strategy itself.”

See a review of The Good Lawyer on page 70. To order a copy visit the LIV Bookshop online at


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