Lord Neuberger’s ‘plea’ for a university law syllabus shake up

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By Katie King on

“Greater prominence for ethics” proposals get the thumbs up from professors


The president of the Supreme Court has called for law degrees and professional training courses to be revamped, so students are taught about lawyers’ ethical duties much earlier on.

In a long speech made to an audience in London earlier this week, Lord Neuberger reflected on the ethical dilemmas facing lawyers today, such as conflicts between their duties to their client and to the court.

The issues are complex and, according to the Oxford grad, should be given greater airtime at university law schools. He explained:

I would make a plea for greater prominence for ethics in legal training both on university law courses and on professional legal training courses.

This would benefit the profession, because:

[T]he earlier and more effectively we train and encourage potential professional lawyers and advocates to appreciate and understand the importance and nature of their ethical duties the stronger a legal profession we will have, and the stronger the rule of law will be.

Though Legal Cheek is not aware of any formal plans to introduce more ethics content into law schools, one university professor thinks it’s a great idea.

Richard Moorhead, a professor of law and professional ethics at UCL, thinks Neuberger is “absolutely right” about the proposed syllabus shake up. He told us:

We need law students to start thinking about what it really means to be a lawyer, and what it means to be an ethical lawyer. Practice and academia need to collaborate more on this.

Read the speech in full below: