Ethical Fitness® and the Practicing Attorney

Reliable enough that its core principles have survived over twenty years but flexible enough to reach diverse audiences, the Ethical Fitness Seminar is built around group participation, shared ethical values, and the process of breaking down complicated ethical dilemmas into discrete and workable steps. After participants, whether five or fifty, work together in small groups to develop a shared language of ethical values, they together apply that language to a series of real-life dilemmas that they share with their groups. The trainer then lays out common types of ethical dilemmas, before finally teaching the group how to resolve them using streamlined versions of some of the oldest, most influential concepts in ethical philosophy.


  • To demonstrate that sound ethics is essential for survival in the 21st century.
  • To provide practical experience in negotiating shared values.
  • To provide the language and encouragement for the discussion of ethical issues.
  • To provide practical tools for resolving difficult dilemmas.

Seminar Overview

The Ethical Fitness Seminar is designed to assist in laying the conceptual groundwork for understanding and resolving the tough right-versus-right issues that face each of us every day. It provides participants with a language of ethics and opens their eyes to the rich ethical fabric of the world around them.

Our four-session seminar comprises discussions of Moral Awareness, Values Definition, Ethical Analysis, and Dilemma Resolution, using a mixture of presentation, group discussion, and small-group exercises.

SESSION 1: Moral Awareness

This first step consists of describing the current ethical climate, noting the signs of hope but also stressing the warning signals of a collapse of shared values, closely tied to current events and with reference to statistical studies, opinion polls, and relevant examples.

SESSION 2: Values Definition

Not to be confused with "values clarification," this step consists of group exercises that:

  • Identify the shared values of the group, and
  • Set these values against 12 years of Institute research into core values around the world.

The research suggests that there exists a core of shared values that is global, deeply held, and unaffected by gender, race, religion, age, culture, political persuasion, or economic status.

The result is a working "code of ethics" upon which the following sessions can be built.

SESSION 3: Ethical Analysis

This session begins with the concept of "dilemma paradigms," based on the understanding that "right versus right" dilemmas, however complex and varied, typically reduce themselves to one or more of the four dilemma paradigms: Truth versus loyalty; Self versus community; Short-term versus long-term; and Justice versus mercy.

The session continues by examining ethical issues drawn not from written case studies but from fresh, individual experiences shared by the participants in the seminar. In this step, participants are encouraged to:

  • Share with a small group the story of a dilemma they themselves have experienced;
  • Identify the ethical elements in the dilemma;
  • Articulate the fundamental values at work within the dilemma; and
  • Recognize the issue as either a "right versus wrong" moral temptation or a "right versus right" ethical dilemma that pits two valid but opposing principles against each other.

SESSION 4: Dilemma Resolution

The last session explores three decision-making principles—Ends-based, Rule-based, and Care-based, drawn from the traditions of moral philosophy—that help us determine whether a given decision:

  • If followed would result in the greatest good for the greatest number (Ends-based); or
  • If adopted would create a suitable rule for others to follow in similar situations (Rule-based); or
  • If adhered to would be in accord with the Golden Rule (Care-based).

The session then examines the dilemmas raised in Session 3 to suggest resolutions by:

  • Describing competing "rights" present in the dilemma and identifying the paradigms involved;
  • Determining the "higher right" by applying the resolution principles;
  • Recognizing that the "lesser right" is not "wrong," and that individuals drawn to it in this circumstance cannot be dismissed as unethical; and
  • Building consensus for a course of action based on the higher right in accordance with the values defined in Session 2.

Call 888-607-0883 or complete the form below to schedule an Ethical Fitness Seminar for members of your firm today.