TEACHING THE THEORY AND SKILLS OF LEGAL ETHICS TO SOUTH AFRICAN LLB STUDENTS
Keywords:legal ethics module, mixed-method approach, curriculum
Stakeholders in South African legal education have been clear on the need for a legal ethics module as part of the LLB degree programme. In this contribution, the authors draw on relevant literature, particularly regarding the American experience, as well as their own observations as legal practitioners and lecturers to advance the conceptualization, design and presentation of such a potential fully-fledged legal ethics module (or modules). Some reflections on the conceptual points of departure for a legal ethics module are followed by a discussion of the more pragmatic aspects associated with legal ethics teaching, namely the goals and objectives pursued (the “what and why”) and the methods used (the “where, when and how”). The article argues that although a stand-alone module is urgently needed, legal ethics need not be taught in isolation, but should ideally be incorporated throughout the curriculum using a mixed-method approach. Such an approach will inculcate in students the realization that ethical issues are not restricted to a lecture or a set of notes: Ethics – whether based on students’ personal moral values and philosophy, or the professional and disciplinary rules and codes of conduct of the legal profession – are and will remain an integral part of their everyday and future working lives.
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