2.5: Ethical Dilemmas


Every professional has to make decisions when faced with ethical dilemmas. Sometimes these are straightforward; sometimes it is harder to find the answers about what is/are the right thing(s) to do in a given situation.

Virtue ethics suggests that it is through the development of practical wisdom that we become ‘better’ at making the right decision when faced with a dilemma. We learn which virtue to prioritise in any given situation. In this section you are asked to think about some examples of dilemmas that legal professionals may face in their working lives.

Below are 5 dilemmas presented either as an animated film, or as text. Watch/read each dilemma which describe a situation that you may face in practice as legal professionals.

In small groups, or working on your own, carefully consider each dilemma. Imagine yourself to be in the situation described and answer the following questions:


Paul R. Tremblay – This article explores the professional responsibilities of progressive lawyers representing the poor and disadvantaged. The author argues that lawyers representing the poor are generally good, energetic lawyers committed to social justice and lessening the pain of poverty. Subsequently, the defects found in poverty lawyering are structural, institutional, political, economic, and ethical.