Discussions surrounding ethics and moral character are a big deal for those looking to operate a well-respected professional practice. For some, the internal desire to adhere to a strong moral compass is enough to keep behaviors in check and avoid potential ethical dilemmas.
Professional fields like law tend to come under a lot of pressure, mainly as these professionals work to define their roles and satisfy the intense demands of the industry. In the commercial sector, in-house lawyers often juggle the pressure of performance and delivering results while working with minimal resources and devoting complete allegiance to their employer.
Defining the legal role
Lawyers who work for commercial enterprises may have their own moral compass to guide decision-making, but things can get misaligned in light of what is good for the company. The structure and culture of an organization may influence an individual to act on certain biases. In some cases, there is blatant pressure to make decisions that qualify as unethical for the industry.
Reasons for losing a moral compass
In the high-pressure situations of law, an individual may morally disengage from their internal moral foundation for the following reasons:
- Ethical pressure from the company
- Fear of saying “no” to the company
- Excusing decisions using “legal loopholes”
- No previous discussion of professional ethics issues
Moral disengagement often occurs when the legal professional simply does what is best for the company, with complete disregard for personal opinions.
Losing one’s moral compass jeopardizes the ability to make legally sound decisions. It also has the potential to jeopardize one’s legal standing and reputation with the bar and among legal peers.