Curriculum Guide · Curriculum
Legal Profession/Professional Responsibility
Each J.D. student is required to take a course in Professional Responsibility in order to graduate. Many students, however, may want to go further to deepen their understanding of the profession they are about to enter, or to prepare for one of the emerging ethics-related careers, such as bar counsel prosecuting attorneys for ethics violations, in a role defending attorneys in trouble, or within a law firm or corporate legal officer as an "ombudsman," "ethics czar," or "managing partner" concerned about the ethical conduct of the attorneys within that organization. In at least one state, there are now professional judges who hear only cases involving charges of ethical violations by attorneys.
The basic two-credit Professional Responsibility course examines the professional and ethical obligations and duties of the lawyer in today's society. It examines the Model Rules of Professional Conduct in some depth drawing comparisons, when appropriate, with the Model Code of Professional Responsibility. But it does so in a larger context of the profession and the relationship of attorney to client as well as the attorney's ethical duty as a professional in relation to a moral duty to him or her self as well as to society as a whole, including representing (or refusing to represent) persons who are unpopular, guilty, or personally repugnant. The course also introduces the student to the bar admission process and to attorney disciplinary proceedings and how they work.
The focus of each section of the basic course varies somewhat by professor. The two-credit course, Professional Responsibility and the Future of the Legal Profession, deals with ethical problems from the standpoint of the practicing lawyer confronted with real world issues requiring decision making on the lawyers part, rather than abstract speculation. The course also focuses on the changes in the legal profession in recent years (i.e. rise of mega firms, entry of women and minorities).
The three-credit course, Professional Responsibility and the Legal Profession, examines ethical problems that illustrate the kinds of situations with which lawyers must deal, which call for deliberation on moral, legal, and practical considerations. The course gives students an appreciation for the importance of careful judgment in confronting both the opportunities and pressures they will face in modern law practice.
A three-credit course, American Legal Profession, that meets the professional responsibility requirement was added to the curriculum in 1996-1997 and has been taught for the past decade by Professor Michael Frisch. The course, combines study of the Model Code of Professional Responsibility and the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility (now covered in the two-credit course) with examination of broader issues related to the legal profession, including such topics as the history and sociology of the profession, philosophical approaches to professional ethics, the role of legal education in the evolution of the legal profession, diversity issues in the profession, the profession and public perception, and the role of some leaders in the profession.
The course in Professional Responsibility in Law Firm and Corporate Practice explores ethical issues, tensions, and dilemmas that arise in the representation of corporations.
Professional Responsibility: Ethics in Public Interest Practice (two credits) examines legal ethics through the lens of public interest practice and the representation of otherwise unrepresented groups and individuals. The course, required for Public Interest Law Scholars (PILS), is open to other interested students. This course also meets the Professional Responsibility requirement.
Several advanced courses build upon the basic course. The Advanced Legal Ethics Seminar, a three-credit seminar, treats in depth some of the major ethical concerns of legal practice. Specialists in ethical problems in various areas of practice address the seminar. This seminar requires the writing of a major paper.
The Legal Ethics Seminar: Can Good Lawyers Be Good Ethical Deliberators?, a three-credit seminar, is taught by Professor Heidi Li Feldman. The course examines the questions: Are the skills of lawyers suited for good ethical deliberation? Or is there an ineliminable tension between being a good lawyer and being a good ethical deliberator? The seminar will investigate these questions, examining the institutional settings in which lawyers practice, the codes of conduct that regulate lawyers, and some relevant philosophical literature.
Professor Areen’s Judgment and Decision Making Seminar uses business school style materials to introduce law students to the problems that can arise in both the private and public sectors. Students are asked to analyze problems and recommend solutions that both resolve the issue at hand and prevent the reoccurrence of similar problems in the future. Readings include such works as Judgment and Choice: The Psychology of Decision, by Robin M. Hogarth; Lawyers, Clients and Moral Responsibility, by Thomas L. Schaffer and Robert F. Cochran.
Three “mini” courses are relevant to issues of professional responsibility. Truth, Falsehood and the Law taught by Adjunct Professor Jacob Stein, covers in depth the way the law deals with falsehood. Fiduciaries: Myths and Realities, taught by Adjunct Professor Alan Ullberg, highlights for students a lawyer’s fiduciary obligations in a variety of roles. Doing Well and Doing Good: Enhancing Pro Bono at Major Law Firms focuses on the tension between the realities of practice in large law firms and the public service obligation of the profession. Students in the seminar develop a plan to enhance or introduce a pro bono project at a law firm.
The graduate program offers a course addressing ethical problems specific to tax practice. Tax Lawyering and Professional Responsibility in Federal Tax Practice (Professional Responsibility and Taxation I required) build upon the basic course in Professional Responsibility and do not satisfy the J.D. professional responsibility requirement.
Courses that satisfy the Professional Responsibility Requirement:
Full-time and Visiting Faculty:
Appellate Litigation Clinic
Center for Applied Legal Studies
Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic
Criminal Justice Clinic
Domestic Violence Clinic
Federal Legislation and Administrative Clinic
Harrison Institute for Public Law: Housing and Development Clinic
Harrison Institute for Public Law: Policy Clinic
Institute for Public Representation
Babcock, Hope (Offered)
Campbell, Angela J. (Offered)
Nicholls, Leah M.
Wolfman, Brian (Offered)
International Women's Human Rights Clinic
Juvenile Justice Clinic
Law Students in Court
Ahn, Kathy (Offered)
Bentzen, Marc (Offered)
Goemann, Richard C. (Offered)
Neal, Nathan A.
Neal, Nathan A.
Parker, Ara D.
Parker, Ara D.
Pettus, Brandee A.
Pettus, Brandee A. (Offered)
Street Law: Community
Street Law: High School
American Legal Profession
Counseling the Corporation in Crisis
Legal Ethics in Corporate Practice
Barclay, Lisa L.
Bowman, Joseph N. (Offered)
Castillo, Justin G. (Offered)
Causey, William F.
Causey, William F.
Cohen, Barry E. (Offered)
Dahl, Scott S. (Offered)
Fox, Hamilton P. (Offered)
Isbell, David B.
Kelner, Robert K. (Offered)
Martin, Joyce M. (Offered)
Mason, Thomas B. (Offered)
Miller, Alexandra W.
Porter, Julia L. (Offered)
Reynolds, Caroline E.
Rosenthal, Michael L. (Offered)
Tague, Peter W. (Offered)
Vargason, James B. (Offered)
Professional Responsibility and Small Firm Practice: How to Start and Build a Law Firm
Professional Responsibility and the Future of the Legal Profession
Professional Responsibility for Tax Lawyers
Professional Responsibility in Law Firm and Corporate Practice
Professional Responsibility: Ethics in Public Interest Practice
Professional Responsibility: Lawyers’ Ethics in an Adversary System (formerly Lawyers' Ethics)
Professional Responsibility: Problems from Practice
The Problematic Economics of Legal Education and Its Broader Implications
International White Collar Crime
Tax Lawyering and Professional Responsibility in Federal Tax Practice
Advanced Legal Ethics Seminar
Ethics and Professional Identity Seminar: The Practicing Lawyer and the Poor
Judgment and Decision Making Seminar
Law Firm Economics and the Public Interest: Advancing the Commitment to Pro Bono Publico through Law Firms and Other Legal Institutions
Truth, Falsehood, and the Law