Professionalism and Ethical Leadership From General Counsel’s Suite
Among the active debate among compliance professionals, lawyers, and commentators about the proper role of compliance within a corporate hierarchy, there is an emerging consensus that lawyers have become the “loophole finders” and that compliance must step in to protect the firm’s integrity and ethics.
Azish Filabi, CEO of Ethical Systems and Jim Lager, ES collaborator, have written a piece for Corporate Counsel that addresses this ongoing conversation. From the piece:
We think that good ethics makes compliance easy, and a corporation can have a good ethical culture irrespective of the company’s organizational chart. Research tells us what we all know intuitively: ethical behavior in organizations stems not from codes, the adoption of procedures or the location where “compliance” is housed, but instead from actions based on our understanding of human behavior.
…general counsel are well-positioned to be ethical leaders in their organizations. To exercise ethical leadership, however, they need to be careful to avoid common behavioral pressures–in particular those that, in service to their client’s demands, may disserve their client’s long-term best interests.
As professionals, lawyers must take care to assure that self-interest does not supersede client interests. Balancing these interests requires lawyers to avoid what psychologists Ann Tenbrunsel and Max Bazerman have termed, in the context of ethical decision-making, as a conflict between a person’s “should self” and their “want self”.
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