Journal of Legal Eduation
Teachers should attempt to illuminate the moral and political implications of life as a labor lawyer and encourage students to reflect critically on what they think is ethical and why. Regardless of whether they represent management or unions, labor lawyers inevitably confront serious ethical issues. Teachers cannot—nor should they—resolve these issues for their students; they must follow the pull of their own moral and political beliefs. But teachers should at least assure that their students consider the ethical implications of life as a labor lawyer. This enriches the students’ thinking by placing them in real-world predicaments and enabling them to reflect on the careers they hope to build.
How one confronts moral and political issues naturally depends on one's underlying conception of the ethical and professional duties of an attorney. Rather than just learning a particular dogma, students should be acquainted with a diversity of perspectives. The purpose of these perspectives, or visions, is to open up discussions and invite students to bring forth new and different conceptions. Further, the visions should be tools rather than totems, and they should empower students to continue their moral odysseys long after the semester has ended. Every teacher must choose from a plethora of legal issues when deciding where to explore the ethical dimensions of labor law. Teachers can and should disagree over which issues and voices deserve extended discussion, but there can be no excuse for neglecting a tour of the thicket.
John W. Teeter, Jr., Into the Thicket: Pursuing Moral and Political Visions in Labor Law, 46 J. Legal Educ. 252 (1996).