New book an ‘important contribution to ethics in the practice of law’

09 July 2019

The Governor of New South Wales and the who’s who of the NSW legal profession turned out in force recently for the launch of an important new book for Australian law students.

Titled Ethical Legal Practice and Professional Conduct the book is an engaging introduction to ethical thinking and behaviour and its application in legal practice.

Written by Francisco Esparraga, a senior lecturer at Notre Dame’s School of Law (Sydney), it is designed to develop an understanding of the core principles and issues specific to ethical legal practice in the modern world and equip students with a mindset to conduct their professional behaviour in an ethical way.

Among 120 guests at the 27 June launch, hosted by the Law Society of NSW, were: Her Excellency, Margaret Beazley AO QC, Governor of NSW and her husband, Dennis Wilson; , The Honourable Tom Bathurst, AC QC, Chief Justice of NSW;  Legal Services Commissioner, John McKenzie; and Ms Elizabeth Espinosa, President of the Law Society of NSW.

Ethical Legal Practice and Professional Conduct is divided into two key sections: the first section provides a context for ethical thinking and behaviour and covers the foundation stones of legal ethics theory upon which ethical legal practice can be built; while the second section places that ethical framework into the legal professional context.

In her forward, Governor Beazley said that throughout the book Mr Esparraga’s approach is to analyse the relevant legal principles by reference to case law and academic opinion, both local and international.

She said his well-researched historical references underscore the constancy of the lawyer’s ethical obligations.  He integrates references to the statutory provisions and professional rules and regulations that mandatorily govern the lawyers conduct and includes practical exercises which are readily adaptable for student study as well as for professional workshops

Said Governor Beazley:  “The author’s approach in each chapter makes an important contribution to an understanding of the ethical practice of the law.

“The work as a whole is an erudite, comprehensive and timely discourse on the ethics of the lawyer.  It should be read by lawyer and student alike.”

Officially launching the book, Chief Justice Bathurst said: “We must recognise that the future will bring with it new ethical challenges for our profession, and that our ability to cope with them depends upon having a strong education in the principles which underlie ethical decision-making.

“Whether these challenges will require the profession to change radically, or stay largely the same …. forms the foundation for the final chapter of Mr Esparraga’s text.

“Whatever the outcome, we can be certain that the profession will not be successful in adapting if it forgets the ethical duties which lie at the heart of professional practice as a lawyer.

“It will not be enough to simply rely upon the conduct rules as written. We must be able to take advantage of our ability to reason practically based on strong ethical and moral principles if we are to retain the respect and trust of the community we serve.

“To this end, all students and future lawyers will benefit from the intertwined approach to ethical decision-making and professional regulation taken by Mr Esparraga’s text.

Photo: Her Excellency, Margaret Beazley AO QC, Governor of NSW and author Francisco Esperraga

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