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The ethics of criminal defence lawyers and others who represent 'unpopular clients' is a largely unexplored area of legal scholarship in Australia. This article seeks to examine, from a comparative perspective, the motivations and ethical practices of these lawyers. Using interviews with Australian lawyers who represent the criminally accused, prisoners and asylum-seekers, as well as relevant ethical rules and commentary, the article identifies why lawyers undertake unpopular cases and, ultimately, what sustains them. Contrasting Australian legal practice with that in the US, the article discusses the sometimes competing professional obligations to court and client, truth and advocacy, public and profession. In a time of growing unease, the article offers new insights about how Australian lawyers see themselves and their work.

Publication Citation

30 Melb. U. L. Rev. 495-553 (2006)

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Criminal Law Commons