Curriculum Guide · Courses
Professional Responsibility: Lawyers’ Ethics in an Adversary System
Professor Abbe Smith
J.D. Course 361 | 2 credit hours
This course will examine critically the law governing lawyers' ethics. The course will address the role of the lawyer in an adversary system, professional ethics and personal morality, the allocation of decision-making between lawyer and client, zealous representation, lawyer-client trust and confidence, conflicts of interest, preparing and examining witnesses, client perjury, prosecutors' ethics, judicial ethics, solicitation of clients, and the ethics of torture. Readings will include the rules and standards of professional conduct, case law, legal scholarship, and anecdotal materials. Class discussion will be based on these materials as well as excerpts from film and television. This course will be of special interest to those interested in criminal law, public interest law, and litigation generally. Please note: This is not a preparation course for the MPRE. Many of the ABA's Model Rules of Professional Conduct will be assigned, and you will be expected to have a working familiarity with them. However, the Model Rules will not be the focus of the course except in the context of broader discussions of lawyers' professional conduct in an adversary system. The emphasis of the class will be principally, but not exclusively, on litigation in the criminal context. Although differing ethical views will be discussed, the instructor will emphasize a client-centered view of lawyers’ ethics, rooted in the Bill of Rights. The examination will be closed-book.
This course meets the J.D. Professional Responsibility graduation requirement. Students may receive credit for only one offering in the Professional Responsibility series. For a list of the PR series courses, please see the Legal Profession/Professional Responsibility cluster essay. The courses in the PR series are open to only J.D. students.