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All Areas of Concern

Professional inadequacy

Trades / Industries:

Lily, a litigation clerk in a solicitor’s firm, was gentle and pleasant by nature.  One day, she was tasked to institute legal proceedings for covering arrears of rents of $900,000 and possession of four premises on behalf of the firm’s client.


Lily visited the premises and spoke to the tenants.  She was appalled by their hardship, especially after hearing the tales of woe spun by the tenants.  She agreed with the tenants that the landlord was too harsh on them and had been charging a cut-throat rent.  Many families would have to sleep in the streets if evicted.


Lily wished that she could do something to help.  She kept stalling for time and deferred carrying out what she had been instructed to do.  Weeks passed.


The client became impatient and complained to Lily’s boss, Henry. Lily made an excuse that she was too busy with other chores at that time. Henry accepted her explanation.  But when the client complained again, Henry started to give pressure on Lily.  Lily went to talk to the tenants who pleaded to Lily desperately.


What should Lily do?  Should she confess that she had not carried out her duty because she was sympathetic to the tenants’ plight? Would her lack of action be an indication of her inefficiency and lack of commitment to her job?  Would they suspect that she had received advantages for so doing?

Case Analysis

Lily was facing an ethical dilemma that might put her personal values such as responsibility, compassion and honesty to challenge. In handling the situation, Lily should identify the relevant facts and take stock of all stakeholders concerned. The following factors should be taken into consideration when identifying viable alternatives and choosing the best course of action:


  1. Any violation to her professional, industry specific, or company code of conduct?
  2. Is it against the Law?
  3. Does it correspond with her self-values such as loyalty, responsibility, compassion, honesty?
  4. Can she disclose her decision to others openly and honestly without misgivings?


The ETHICS PLUS ethical decision making model might be helpful for her in solving her ethical dilemma and choosing the best course of action.

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