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VOL. 80 PART 3 MAY 2022
creates division elsewhere, applies to any person who chooses to leave their
conscience at home.
It is surprising that conscience receives little official emphasis in contemporary
discussions of legal ethics.13 Conscience must be near if the legal
process is meant to pursue truth and justice and if our professional codes of
conduct emphasize integrity, honesty and honour. Despite the paucity of
references to conscience in the modern canons of legal ethics, I suspect that
most lawyers would say that conscience looms large in their daily work.
This is good news for the profession and the public, but I believe More
would say that we should be less timid about being conscientious.
As I said at the outset, I feel a particular closeness to More. I studied law
at Oxford, as did More. I visited the church in Canterbury where More’s
head is interred. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on freedom of conscience.
During my journey in the law thus far, I have frequently asked More to pray
for me. I have no doubt that he has.
I conclude, as I am sure More would like me to, with a prayer. Because of
his humility, he will not be pleased with my choosing a prayer he wrote. I
hope he will forgive me.
O Lord, give us a mind that is humble, quiet, peaceable, patient and charitable,
and a taste of your Holy Spirit in all our thoughts, words and deeds.
O Lord, give us a lively faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, a love of You.
Take from us all lukewarmness in meditation and all dullness in prayer.
Give us fervour and delight in thinking of You, your grace, and your tender
compassion toward us. Give us, good Lord, the grace to work for the
things we pray for. Amen.14
1. Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons: A Drama in Two
Acts (New York: Samuel French, 1990) at 111.
2. Raymond W Chambers, Thomas More (London:
Jonathan Cape, 1936) at 177.
3. Keith Watson, “Sir Thomas More (1478-1535)”
(1994) 24:1/2 Prospects: Quarterly Review of Comparative
Education 185 at 192.
4. Winston S Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking
Peoples, Vol. 2: The New World (New York:
Dodd, Mead & Company, 1956) at 64.
6. Ibid at 65.
7. Bolt, supra note 1 at 56.
8. PS Allen, HM Allen & HW Garrod, Opus epistolarum
Desiderii Erasmi (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1906–58) at xxv.
9. Thomas More, The Sadness of Christ (Scepter:
Princeton, 1993) at 16–17.
10. William Roper, The Life of Sir Thomas More (London:
JM Dent & Sons Ltd, 1932) at 102–03.
11. Federation of Law Societies of Canada, Model Code
of Professional Conduct (as amended October 19,
2019), Rule 2.1-1, Commentary 1, online: <flsc.
12. Bolt, supra note 1 at 23.
13. In a leading Canadian textbook on legal ethics, for
example, focused commentary on the role of conscience
in the practice of law is virtually absent. See
Alice Woolley, Richard Devlin & Brent Cotter, eds,
Lawyers’ Ethics and Professional Regulation, 4th ed
(Toronto: LexisNexis Canada, 2021). Apart from a
few instances in which the word “conscientious”
appears, conscience is also rarely seen within professional
codes of conduct for Canadian lawyers.
The Model Code of the Federation of Law Societies of
Canada, cited above, is a case in point.
14. “Prayer of St. Thomas More”, online: <lordcalls.