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May 30, 2009

Taking an Oath to Serve the Greater Good

The New York Times has a fascinating story by Leslie Wayne identifying a possible new trend among business students--to take oaths to serve the greater good, especially during their careers to come. 

Should law students take similar oaths? Lawyers, after all, were involved with Enron, Madoff, and, most infamously, torture.

Lawyers, of course, are already bound by professional ethics, and serve, among other things as, officers of the court. Yet, a promise to "serve the greater good" seems to state an ambition more directly perhaps than our lawyerly professional canons (though perhaps those better versed in these might enlighten me on this subject int he comments).

There is yet another issue: whether it is important that professionals see themselves as serving the "greater good." The famous Adam Smith passage saw a greater good arising out of the self-interested behavior of individuals. But perhaps even greater good might arise from more directly socially directed behavior, such as that arising out of a sense of professionalism.

Here's an excerpt from the NYT story:

When a new crop of future business leaders graduates from the Harvard Business School next week, many of them will be taking a new oath that says, in effect, greed is not good.

Nearly 20 percent of the graduating class have signed “The M.B.A. Oath,” a voluntary student-led pledge that the goal of a business manager is to “serve the greater good.” It promises that Harvard M.B.A.’s will act responsibly, ethically and refrain from advancing their “own narrow ambitions” at the expense of others.

What happened to making money?

That, of course, is still at the heart of the Harvard curriculum. But at Harvard and other top business schools, there has been an explosion of interest in ethics courses and in student activities — clubs, lectures, conferences — about personal and corporate responsibility and on how to view business as more than a money-making enterprise, but part of a large social community.

“We want to stand up and recite something out loud with our class,” said Teal Carlock, who is graduating from Harvard and has accepted a job at Genentech. “Fingers are now pointed at M.B.A.’s and we, as a class, have a real opportunity to come together and set a standard as business leaders.”

At Columbia Business School, all students must pledge to an honor code: “As a lifelong member of the Columbia Business School community, I adhere to the principles of truth, integrity, and respect. I will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” The code has been in place for about three years and came about after discussions between students and faculty.

In the post-Enron and post-Madoff era, the issue of ethics and corporate social responsibility has taken on greater urgency among students about to graduate.

Anupam Chander

May 30, 2009 in Service -- legal profession | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 28, 2009

Free Law Review Article Submission System: LexOpus

I post details from an email I received from John Doyle at Washington and Lee:


LexOpus (http://lexopus.wlu.edu) is a recently launched service at Washington and Lee Law School offering free online submissions to law journals. The service has two facets:

1) An author can make an article available to all interested law journals, inviting journals to make offers. Journals are able to limit by subject matter the articles that they see as open to offers.

2) An author can make offers to law journals in an author-specified journal list, LexOpus making on behalf of the author a short-term exclusive offer to each law journal in sequence. For non-peer-reviewed journals 'short term' is one week.  Author offers continue past each journal's exclusive period, on a non-exclusive basis, until rejected by the journal or withdrawn by the author, but any journal with an exclusive period always has acceptance priority.

An author can make a work 'open to offers' as well as submit to specific journals, or can do one or the other. As the system does permit uploading of revisions authors might make working papers open to offers and then, if no acceptable offers have been received, when the finished work is available submit that version to specific law journals.

Works can be suppressed from public view if the author so desires.

Anupam Chander

May 28, 2009 in Scholarship -- online | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack