Showing posts from October, 2011

Footnotes to The Bizzle's "The only way is ethics"

In a wittily titled recent post " The only way is ethics? ", The Bizzle raised a whole series of issues about what companies say about ethical behaviour.  I agree with his post and the conclusion " either walk your talk, or stop going on about it " is unarguable.  But it seems to me there are several differen t strands wound together under this topic of "corporate ethics". I'd like to try to separate those strands.  The debate in the room at the Corporate Counsel Forum focused on the "compliance" side of ethical behaviour and on creating a culture in a company to meet the challenge of legislation like the UK's new Bribery Act. That was the subject of my own post " Ethics and the General Counsel ". As he said in his post, The Bizzle didn't set out to discuss this topic (but he has promised to at a later date). We might call the next strand "ethics as a fig-leaf for the profit motive". Companies often talk about

It's criminal on the 07:43 from Woking

This morning, just by coincidence, two people I follow on Twitter had very similar experiences while commuting on the train. Both saw a fellow passenger working on a laptop. We'll omit the names to protect the guilty, but the laptop-jockeys were lawyers, one of them at a famous magic circle firm. The details of their clients and the matters they were working on were clearly visible to their fellow passengers. This sparked a light-hearted debate on Twitter about work life balance. Workaholic lawyers are using their train journeys to finish off those crucial PowerPoint presentations. The phrase "get a life" was used. But what went through my mind was "get a grip". There are serious issues involved. Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know I am an advocate for normalising legal services, demystifying communications between lawyers and clients and bringing the profession up to date. But there are some things that are too important to compromise. A fundamental