Arthur a partner in a leading law firm feels guilty after discovering that U-North an agrochemical company they represent is actually responsible for the death of farmers and other citizens. Arthur faces a moral dilemma concerning the lives of the citizens affected and the amount of money they stand to make if they win the lawsuit. Arthur weighs the benefits in terms of cash that he claims to waste on prostitutes and the lives of innocent people. His conscience weighs down on him, and he decides to build a case against his firm in order to enable the innocent people, especially Anna whose family died because of the poison to win the lawsuit. The firm discovers this and Karen issues an order for his execution. Michael Clayton (Arthur’s friend and a gambling addict) realizes it when he visits the murder scene. They later try to assassinate him by bombing his vehicle.
When the firm brings in Michael as a fixer to remedy the situation with Arthur, he faces an ethical dilemma. He encounters difficulty in choosing where to place his loyalty. He contemplates of choosing to back his long-term friend or execute the task assigned to him by his employer. After escaping the hotel, Michael spots Arthur in the streets. Michael tries to convince him that he is not “the enemy.” The conversation that they have ends up with Arthur asking him who he is.
Michael’s role in the firm is that of a “fixer.” He takes advantage of loopholes in the existing laws in order to help his clients. This professionally is unethical, which palaces him at a tight spot. He does not feel comfortable doing his job. This is evident when Michael enquires his boss of his future position if a merger occurs. He does not even know how to explain to his colleagues his exact role. This shows that he faces an ethical dilemma between his actual work and professional requirements. In the beginning, Michael responds by letting go of his friend in exchange for a contract and eighty thousand dollars. After realizing that Arthur was right and that the firm is involved itself in his death, he decides to give up the whole organization. He implicates his boss Karen, and organization in the case against them for negligence and manufacture of Killer drugs. Such a decision also shows that he had decided to give up his whole work in response to his professional dilemma.
I agree with his response in that he does the right thing for the first time by deciding to back his friend who had a genuine concern without brushing it aside in the name of doing his part of the job. The movie ends with Michael appearing relieved and at peace with himself while he rides in the taxi. One needs to consider the moral implications of their actions in their day-to-day undertaking. Neglecting such professional ethics and moral responsibilities in the society translates to greater overall costs. In this case, failure to implicate his firm means that U-North would continue producing the killer drug. The deaths of many for the profit of a few is unethical and morally wrong
With a rise in professional problems between employers, clients and the public, the Case addresses Attorney- client confidentiality, corporate responsibility, and professional ethics in practicing law. The case shows a thin line between Attorney-Client confidentiality and moral responsibility. Firms, employees, and Attorneys face a problem in deciding to adhere to professional ethics and moral responsibilities when dealing with the public. Corporate world is willing to overlook the safety and moral responsibility owed to the public in a bid to make enormous profits. On the other hand, lawyers are willing to represent unscrupulous businesses when there is a promise to make money.
Bowman, G. W. ( 2007, NOVEMBER TUESDAY 27). LAW CAREER BLOG. Retrieved from Clooney v. Clayton, Part 6: http://law-career.blogspot.com/2007/11/clooney-v-clayton-part-6.html
Clifford, R. A. (2008, 01 05). Clifford's Notes, Chicago Lawyer. Retrieved from The Dilemmas of Confidentiality: http://www.cliffordlaw.com/news/attorneys-articles/the-dilemmas-of-confidentiality
Thiroux, J. P. (2012). Ethics: Theory and Practice, 11th edition . New York: Prentice Hall.