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Messages - Jake_MONDATTA

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I don't see how your McDonalds/biglaw comparison gets to a "deeper problem in ethics."  Please explain.

I disagree if the premise is that the economic effects of a law suit on the sued are difficult to ascertain.  Someone with an IQ above 60 would be able to ascertain the economic effects of a law suit down to the last penny by simply reading the relevant portion of the final judgment.  In that way, the economic effects of a law suit are easier to ascertain than the consequences of serving big macs or the long-term effects of surgery.

"Economic impacts are particularly difficult to gauge- even more so for those not well versed in economics (which is unfortunately most people). By contrast, anyone with an IQ above 60 can tell that cutting someone improperly likely has bad impacts."

Sure, "cutting someone improperly" has negative consequences... but you're just glossing over the "improper" label as if that's a given.  Medical malpractice is actually a pretty rich and contentious field of law.  Perhaps more importantly for the purposes of the present discussion, the "improper" bit is decided in a court of law by people with legal training.  This is despite the fact that the actual procedures labeled "improper" require medical training to fully understand.  Are you suggesting that lawyers are qualified to make such arguments about medical outcomes but are not qualified to make similar arguments about economic outcomes?  Your argument seems to imply that.

In any event, I think it is not obvious to anybody (except, possibly, to you) that the short term effects of surgery are easier to ascertain than those of a law suit.  I also think that it's not obvious to anybody (again except, possibly, to you) that the long-term effects of surgery are easier to ascertain than those of a law suit.  Nevertheless, lawyers have to make arguments base on some level of understanding of all of the above.  It seems to me that the position that lawyers could not possibly understand the economic impact of their own actions when they're constantly having to understand and argue a position with respect to the economic impact of others is not a very tenable one.

"As for the ethics of biglaw, I look at it this way: You simply can't have a large modern corporation without lawyers. Hated as they are, large corporations are essential to the functioning of the economy. Economies of scale mean they are often the most efficient organization for production. Additionally, you can't have a mom and pop aircraft manufacturer."

What about how people on both sides of the political isle are always claiming that "the backbone" of the economy is actually the community of small business owners?  Do you disagree?

Even if we accept your argument that large corporations are essential, why does that imply that BIGLAW and the rest of our legal infrastructure is also essential?  Some of the biggest corporations in the world are located in countries that devote far less resources to their legal systems (think of Toyota or Volkswagen).  Doesn't this throw a wrench in the implication that economies of scale require massive legal infrastructure?

"Therefore, expecting that the average lawyer should have a solid grasp of all the economic consequences of his/her job is asking a bit too much."

I agree with all you've written, but I'm not suggesting that the average lawyer needs to understand the impact of his work with the same rigor as the economist applies.  I'm suggesting that wielding as much power as a lawyer working for BIGLAW does, in my view, would be irresponsible without having some kind of an understanding of the economic impact.  I'm also suggesting that an understanding of the economic impact is not out of the reach of the average BIGLAW attorney, even at the junior associate level. 

"Why wouldn't everyone be required to understand their economic impact under this rubric? Just about every decision you make has some impact on the economy and on the state. Should the high-school dropout working at McDonalds really be expected to analyze how his marginal input to the enterprise affects the obesity epidemic and concurrent helthcare crisis?"

Sure, why not?  In any event, the marginal impact would require only a marginal amount of analysis.  Your objection to my reasoning really isn't an objection.  To interpret it as such would assume it to be like arguing that surgeons shouldn't be held liable for malpractice because manicurists aren't and, after all, manicurists also cut their "patients"... even if they're only cutting fingernails.

"In a thread where we are ultimately discussing the question at topic, it is entirely relevant for me to raise the question that I did.  I never said YOU conflated the two topics, I just tried to bring that discussion back into the metadiscussion."

Dude, chill.  No harm, no foul.

"Do you think it is even possible to fully and accurately assess all the economic consequences of every decision you make?"

I think it's not unreasonable for a lawyer or law firm to have an idea of where their legal practice fits into the grand economic scheme of things.  I think it would be hard not to.  A law firm is a business, after all.

"however, that extent may be very limited indeed."

It could be, but it won't be if you work for BIGLAW.

"After all, the economic system we inhabit is incredibly complex.  Even the best economists in the world come to different conclusions when presented with the same data."

They do, but yet they keep trying.  Silly economists.  Would you really have us believe that this is all wasted effort?

It doesn't - it's an entirely separate discussion and I never conflated the two.  See above posts.

In any event, I hardly think that the economic impact of lawyers is "too complicated to discuss."  Rather, I think it's the responsibility of people in this profession to be aware of any impact they make, economic or otherwise.  Lawyers are, essentially, liaisons between the organs of state power and the public.  To play that role without considering its consequences would be immoral, in my opinion. 

Even if the market overall is not a zero sum game (part of Smith's idea is that we all benefit from the game when it's played correctly), certainly many legal transactions are.  Law suits are the best example of legal zero sum games, but there are many others.

"I think you can also think of a lawyer in terms of a consultant who provides valuable legal information to his/her client to do with what he/she chooses.  In this scenario, the lawyer is more of an amoral actor, while providing information that could be used immorally by his/her principal."

I agree with that characterization, but would suggest it defines a role for the lawyer that isn't necessarily beneficial to the market.  If paying a lawyer for good advice becomes a necessity in order to rise above the competition, then resources must be diverted away from the goal of providing goods and services most efficiently.  In other words, the lawyer's presence changes the nature of the game.  It's no longer "he who provides the best product in the best way, wins."  It's now "he who provides a decent, but not necessarily superlative, product and also has the best lawyer, wins." 

I can see an argument made for a certain amorality to capitalism in its purist incarnation, but I don't see how one can make a reasonable argument that working in biglaw, wall street, corporations, or the free market in general is NECESSARILY immoral.  You've set a pretty high bar.  Why should I believe that it is?

I think you're right that it's better to use the phrase "amoral" than "immoral."  I mean, I'm sure that if there was money in helping the poor or rescuing orphans, Wall St. would probably be first on the scene. 

However, it's not even clear to me that BIGLAW is a legitimate part of the "free market" in Adam Smith's sense.  In Smith's market, the rise and fall of the players is ultimately based on whether or not they are providing a quality, necessary service efficiently to the public.  The lawyer's role is really to tilt that playing field in favor of his client.  The best-paying clients are not necessarily the ones providing the highest quality goods and services most efficiently.  In fact, 1) there are clients who spend more money on lawyers than on product development specifically in order to drive stronger competitors out of their way and 2) it could be argued that, in general, money spent on lawyering would be better spent on improving the quality of goods sold and the efficiency by which they are distributed.  Discuss.

This: "It's useless to debate it"
Does not follow from this: "This question cannot be answered by a bunch of relativists"

Unless the sole purpose of debate is to reach the definitive answer on an issue. Which it's not.

I agree with you.  However, you have only posted twelve times.  Therefore, I am bound by the code of the internet not to take you seriously at this point.  ;)

Thank you for your questions and comments.  Good show with the literary devices and your mastery of moral relativism. LOL.

"the question simply cannot be answered in a pluralistic and relativistic society..."

That's probably fair, but I think it could be reformulated slightly to deal with this problem.  The question might be rephrased as "Is working for BIGLAW immoral by your standards?" and/or "Is BIGLAW good for society as a whole?"

"so how does the OP expect anyone to answer this question with solidarity?"

I doubt the OP expects us all to agree.  In fact, discussion and the expression of differing opinions is probably the point.

"better yet, how does '4 post guy' think his opinion is going to receive any credence whatsoever on this board...?"

So the worth of someone's opinion is directly proportional to the number of posts that person has made?  That makes no sense to me.  In fact, there are a lot of people whose opinions are more valuable to me than those of any one who posts here despite the fact that they have and will never post on this board.

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