Two of the audiences for this blog are teachers of legal ethics who want to explore the behavioral aspects of ethical decision-making with their students and practicing attorneys who grapple with ethical decisions. For the former group, recently I culled from our archives blog posts that might be of interest. Finding ways for the latter group to access relevant material can be more difficult — after all, practicing lawyers tend to be quite busy and learning about a new field, especially one that is inter-disciplinary, has its challenges. This is why I am thrilled to learn about what looks like an excellent CLE program on the subject, sponsored by the Texas Center for Legal Ethics, entitled “Your Brain on Ethics: How That Thing Between Your Ears Can Lead You Astray” (for a description, see Your Brain on Ethics — course description — April 2019).
This program caught my eye for two reasons (in addition to its catchy title). The first is that the faculty involves a leader in the field of behavioral science scholarship and pedagogy, Professor Robert Prentice, who is Department Chair, Business, Government and Society, at McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin. For those not familiar with Professor Prentice’s work, I commend his long list of publications on behavioral science and decision-making, including his more recent work about behavioral ethics pedagogy (listed in this post). In addition, Professor Prentice is a founder of Ethics Unwrapped, one the best resources available for teaching behavioral ethics (I guest blogged for Ethics Unwrapped a few years ago).
The second reason that this CLE program caught my eye is that it includes an excellent written overview of the field of Behavioral Legal Ethics, entitled “Ethical Decision Making, Fast and Slow,” which is now publicly available here. The summary includes a description of the role of Systems 1 and 2 processing, as well as the many situational factors and cognitive and motivational biases that can produce unintended unethical behavior. For anyone looking for an introduction to the field, this is a wonderful place to start.
This program will next be presented at the Texas Health Law Conference on October 8, 2019, for anyone who might be interested.
Update: 9/12/19: Here is the Table of Contents for the written materials for “Ethical Decision Making, Fast and Slow”: