The Columns

Legal Ethics Expert Stephen Pepper to Lecture on Lawyers’ Ethics at W&L

— by on February 25th, 2010

Stephen Pepper, professor of law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, will lecture on lawyers’ ethics during the 32nd Legal Ethics Institute at Washington and Lee University. His talk will be on Friday, March 19, at 5 p.m. in Classroom B of Sydney Lewis Hall.

The title of the lecture, which is free and open to the public, is “Three Dichotomies in Lawyers’ Ethics.” The lecture is on the fundamental distinctions in how we perceive or approach questions of lawyers’ ethics.

The talk is sponsored by W&L’s Society and the Professions Program in Ethics and the philosophy department.

Pepper has published well-known law review articles on lawyers’ ethics and on the subject of freedom of religion under the First Amendment and has presented at academic conferences and meetings of practicing lawyers. Several of his articles on lawyers’ ethics have been included in casebooks and in edited collections of essays. His essay on the underlying theory of the ethical relation between lawyer and client won the Association of American Law Schools’ 1985 Scholarly Papers competition, and his article on lawyers’ ethics and the counseling of clients was the lead article in the May 1995 issue of the Yale Law Journal.

Pepper’s most recent work is a forthcoming book chapter, “How to do the Right Thing: a Primer on Ethics and Moral Vision,” providing practical guidance to working executives and professionals on ethics and the exercise of moral vision. The following is an excerpt.

“‘The right thing’-that’s what most of us want to do, but we don’t have a guide, and we don’t think about it much. And when we do think about it, we don’t have much in the way of an explicit or articulate method to follow. Not long ago I participated in a panel presentation where the lead advice on how to be an ethical executive was to exercise courage, candor and conscience. Sounded good to me, but it seemed too vague, abstract and elevated to provide much practical assistance in actual decision making. What follows is a translation of ‘courage, candor and conscience’ into simple and usable guidance for doing the right thing as a business executive. My intention is to be helpful in understanding the ethics of one’s day-to-day working life.”

Professor Pepper graduated from Stanford University and Yale Law School. He practiced for four years with the Denver law firm of Holland & Hart.