The concept of the Improvement of Lawyer’s Ethics Regulation and Ethical Training

This project was financed by the Lithuanian Research Council, lasted from 2012 untill 2014, and aimed at the presentation of a general and comparative analysis of legal regulation and implementation of legal ethics in the practice of the professional honor courts and in the processes of legal training to the legal society and the general public in a scientifically comprehensive and coherent manner that has not yet been done in Lithuania, and on the basis of this research to propose a conception for the improvement of respective processes.

Nine scholars participated in this project, essentially all representing the Faculty of Law: Edita Gruodytė (the Head), Julija Kiršienė, Tomas Berkmanas, Vygantas Malinauskas, Simona Žižienė, Silvija Gervienė, Stefan Kirchner (originaly German; especially involved in data collection from Germany), Charles Szymanski (originaly American; especially involved in data collection from the US) and Tomas Veršinskas (graduate of Sorbonne University; especially involved in data collection from France).

These tasks have been accomplished during this project:

(1) The analysis has been made of theoretic and methodic preconditions that would allow effective practical application of the standards of professional-legal ethics;

(2) The conception of the regulation of legal ethics in Lithuania and the improvement of the practice of the judicial honor courts has been created; together with that the exemplary guidelines of the codes of ethics were created with the particular focus to the balancing of the duties and discretions of a lawyer in her/his professional practice;

(3) The exemplary program of the vocational training of lawyers in the field of legal ethics has been prepared, with the detailed account on the contents of training, its methodology, results to be achieved and criteria of the evaluation of the corresponding achievements.

The scholars organized three big international scientific conferences on the topic of legal ethics, published more than 10 articles in English and Lithuanian related to this field. On the basis of the achievements of the project, in 2016, the collective monograph/book in Lithuanian was published (“Legal Ethics: from Status Quo to the Exemplary Model”), in 2018, the publication of the Textbook/Manual devoted to legal ethics has been planned.

Finally, it should be noted that VMU Law Faculty is the pioneer of legal ethics education in academic curriculum; for a long time this subject was one of electives there and, in 2012, it became the obligatory subject. Now this subject, as obligatory one, is included in the Descriptor of Legal Studies, adopted by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania in 2015, the draft of this Descriptor was prepared by the group of the representatives of Lithuanian higher education institutions and representatives of the profession, VMU there was represented by Tomas Berkmanas.