College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date

6-2011

Document Type

Thesis

College/Department Conferring Degree

Public Service Management

Keywords

ethics, culture, individualism, power distance, confidentiality

Abstract

This research sought to investigate the effect of culture upon the preservation of confidentiality of client information when the interest of the client conflicts with the interests of others. The rules, practices and values of the legal profession in Chile, India and the United States were studied in respect to two dimensions of culture: individualism-collectivism and power distance. The content analysis of the three ethics codes studied supported the research hypothesis that ethics codes in countries with greater power distance were more concerned with the preservation of the status of the legal profession than those from more egalitarian cultures. Nine-one members of the legal profession in Chile, Indian and the US responded to the on-line questionnaire. The questionnaire results supported the hypothesis that while culture impacted attorney practices and values toward client confidentiality generally, it had no effect attorney practices and values in respect to client confidentiality harm to others and criminality escalates in seriousness. These results point toward an international legal culture and a shared view among attorneys about their duties to the legal system and their societies.

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