Moorhead takes on ethics role as legal profession comes to terms with "paradigm-busting shifts"
Moorhead: tremendous opportunity
University College London (UCL) has appointed well-known academic Professor Richard Moorhead to its first chair in law and professional ethics.
Joining in September from Cardiff Law School, he will take on directorship of UCL’s Centre for Ethics and Law, which aims to foster intellectual leadership and knowledge-sharing between industry, academics, practitioners, policy-makers and the professions.
Professor Moorhead said: “There has never been a better time to be focusing on ethics. Ethical crises are everywhere. Businesses, professions and the media are discovering that reputational risk damages bottom lines in the short term and legitimacy in the long term. All are struggling with greater accountability and diminished trust.
“At the same time, technology and the power of markets are challenging conventional modes of regulation. The language of compliance is being exchanged with the language of proper justice, but it remains to be seen if this shift delivers more justice.”
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He continued: “The connected, contested world of the modern economy has
made most of us more interested in right and wrong. Corporates and professionals need to take more rounded decisions. Regulators are shifting from compliance to more substantive modes of regulation.
“The legal professions in particular are going through paradigm-busting shifts which challenge their ethics and their identities. As academics we have a tremendous opportunity to engage with those constituencies. We can do so conceptually and through applied research skills and should lead with ideas. Through the Centre, we aim to seize that opportunity.”
One-time chairman of both the Trainee Solicitors Group and Young Solicitors Group, Professor Moorhead’s main research interests to date have been access to justice, lawyer ethics, legal services and the regulation of legal systems.
His research has been influential in various areas, such as the regulation of contingency fees, quality assurance for advocates and legal aid reform. His blog on the legal professions, Lawyer Watch, is becoming an increasingly important and influential resource.
Professor Dame Hazel Genn QC, dean of UCL Laws, said: “Richard has a global reputation for his research on the legal profession, access to justice, regulation and legal services reform. He will be a great asset to the faculty and is well-placed to work with our partners in industry to take forward the work of the Centre for Ethics and Law.”