Working Paper No. 12-59:
Rich, Smart, Honest?: Does Success Lead to Unethical Lawyering?


Jeremy Kidd, Michael Krauss

Date Posted: September 2012

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The causes of unethical behavior in society, and among lawyers specifically, are the subject of significant interest in legal and psychological academia. Among the hypothesized causes of unethical behavior is class distinction. This research offers a preliminary inquiry into whether the structure of law school education leads to greater unethical behavior because it imposes an additional level of class distinction among lawyers through class rankings and coveted spots on law review and other “elite” organizations. Empirical results suggest possible correlation between ethical standards and various indications of law school “class” status. While the results are not statistically significant to a high confidence level, the small number of observations may have led to the lack of statistical significance, indicating a need for further research to verify the results.