The term “ethical infrastructure” (coined by Ted Schneyer, a law professor at the University of Arizona) refers to formal systems, procedures and policies that an organisation can implement to ensure that the organisation and it’s personnel act ethically. In law firms, for example, management systems which are developed to embed ethical decision making and practices has been the hallmark of Steve and Tahlia’s work.
Implementing an ethical framework is a proactive measure to develop and support an ethical culture within organisations. In New South Wales law firms have, since 2004, been required to implement an ethical infrastructure and evaluate themselves as to whether they have sufficient structures, policies and procedures in place in relation to ten areas of practice.
Research studies conducted on the requirement to implement an ethical infrastructure in law firms in NSW have revealed that firms that have done so have reduced their complaints lodged against them by up to two-thirds when compared with firms who have not gone through the process. Research has also revealed that law firms who have implemented an ethical infrastructure are better managed with the result of better service delivery.
Though implemented by law firms, the ethical infrastructure framework, as an element of our approach to cultural regulation, was designed by Steve Mark when he was Legal Services Commissioner of New South Wales and is easily transferable to other professions and industries.
Creative Consequences can assist your organisation in designing an ethical infrastructure relevant to your needs.
Ted Schneyer, Professional Discipline for Law Firms?, 77 CORNELL L. REV. 1, 10 (1991) .
Ted Schneyer, On Further Reflection: How “Professional Self-Regulation” Should Promote Compliance with
Broad Ethical Duties of Law Firm Management, 53 ARIZ. L. REV. 577, 585 (2011).