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University of Birmingham

Corporate Lawyers: Ethics, Regulation and Purpose

University of Birmingham via FutureLearn

This course may be unavailable.


Imagine you are a lawyer advising a client wanting to take over a large company. From your discussions with the client, you think it likely that, after they buy the company, several thousand of the company’s employees will be made redundant by your client. Such redundancies will be perfectly legal. Do you, as a lawyer, have an obligation to counsel your clients on the ethics of making those employees redundant? Or is it none of your business? Are you instead simply there to do what the client asks you to do, as long as that request is within the bounds of the law?

In this free, three-week course, we will teach you about the role of lawyers in society and about how they can (and should) balance their obligations to their clients against wider obligations to the public interest. We will cover how different lawyers are regulated, and explore key debates in lawyers’ ethics: how we might decide whether what lawyers do is right or wrong.

Explore the rights and wrongs corporate lawyers face

During the course, we will look at the different ways in which we can theorise about lawyers’ ethics, and we will then apply those theories to a series of case studies: some general (in Week 2); some focussing on specific research on corporate lawyers working for the world’s largest law firms (in Week 3).

We will talk with experts in legal ethics and the regulation of lawyers about their views on the proper role of lawyers in society. We will also talk with members of the public, and invite you to share your experiences and opinions. And we will talk with practising lawyers and with the regulators of legal services.

The course has been developed by the Centre for Professional Legal Education and Research (CEPLER), which is part of the Law School at the University of Birmingham.

CEPLER is the largest centre in the UK dedicated to the legal profession and questions of legal education. It has strong links with the profession, giving you the opportunity to learn with world-leading academics, the majority of whom are also practitioners.

The course will be of interest to anyone who is captivated by lawyers, big business and questions of right and wrong. You might be a current or future law student, a practising lawyer, a regulator, or a member of the public.

The course will take an interactive approach, allowing you to both share your own opinions and experiences of lawyers, and learn from experts in legal ethics and legal services regulation. All jargon will be explained, so that you can join in without any specialist knowledge.

Taught by

Steven Vaughan


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  • Xhulia Shegeza

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