July 31, 2018

Legal Ethics Education: From Academic Foundation through Professional Practice

By Arthur Gross-Schaefer, J.D., CPA (Inactive), MAHL, Rabbi & Lawrence P. Kalbers, Ph.D., CPA

I. Introduction

The lack of ethical behavior in the practice of business and law continues to be an important issue in society. It is nearly impossible to read the news on any given day without finding examples of corporate or professional activities that are unethical, illegal, or both. Academic education journals have long focused primarily on how to deliver ethics education in the classroom, with the hope that ethics education in college will inoculate students against unethical behavior in their careers. Professional journals focus on following codes of ethics, if they mention ethics at all. In this paper, we introduce a discussion of coordinating ethics education in business and law schools with ethics education in business and professional practice. The authors teach in undergraduate and graduate programs in an AACSB-accredited1 business school. One author teaches courses in Business Law and Legal Environment of Business, as well as continuing professional education ethics courses to lawyers and accountants. The other author teaches courses in accounting and business ethics, as well as continuing professional education ethics to accountants and auditors. The authors have developed various tools based on values and ethical decision models that have been used in the classrooms and in the continuing professional education courses they teach.

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