women, care-orientation, morality, gender issues.


The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 5, Moral Vision and Professional Decisions: The Changing Values of Women and Men Lawyers, by Rand Jack and Dana Crowley Jack, published by Cambridge University Press, 1989. The authors, an attorney and a developmental psychologist, base their ideas on interviews with practicing attorneys. Recent findings in developmental psychology which show that women and men often construct differing moral orientations, and the rapid increase of women entering the legal profession sparked the major questions which guide the authors’ inquiry. How does an individual lawyer’s moral perspective interact with the demands of professional role? What is the relationship between a lawyer’s personal morality and the way that person practices law, encounters conflicts in legal work, and adjusts to being an attorney? How do women and men cope with the moral cost of fulfilling the lawyer role when it conflicts with personal values? Does the law school eulogy to “think like a lawyer” say as much about the gender bias of our system as about skills inherent in doing the attorney’s job? Chapter 5, “Women lawyers: archetype and alternatives,” describes patterns observed in women's adjustment to the role of lawyer. As used in this introductory excerpt to chapter 5, “care-orientation” refers to a perspective on morality and social relations rather than to a socially defined role for women. The term “care-orientation” was first described by developmental psychologist Carol Gilligan, and denotes an ethical imperative to avoid hurt to others and to protect relationships. When this perspective encounters the rights-oriented, adversary structure of legal discourse and practice, it raises the possibility of creative challenge and change in the legal system.

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