This course provides an overview of the legal profession, including the business, culture, and ethics of lawyering in different practice contexts. Ethical issues for lawyers will be studied as they arise in different fields of law, in small and large firm settings, and in representing individuals, corporations, or government entities. Although some lawyers remain in a single practice area and practice setting throughout their entire careers, it is not uncommon for lawyers to switch or expand their concentrations or change their practice settings (e.g., from private practice to government or in-house). Even if lawyers stick to the same practice area, most lawyers will eventually encounter lawyers in other practice areas—either because their professional work involves a practice area outside of the lawyer’s expertise or personal events occasion the retention of a specialized lawyer. Finally, because the legal profession remains predominantly self-regulated, it is important to understand how the general rules of professional responsibility are approached across different practice contexts.
Course materials will include the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct and studies of ethical (and unethical) decision making in different areas and settings–for example, insurance defense, corporate litigation, criminal law, divorce law, patent law, immigration, in-house, and legal services. A central theme of the course is how one resolves the tension between the ideal of the lawyer as an autonomous professional and the economic, social, and political realities of legal practice. While this course is designed to satisfy the Professional Responsibility Requirement as reflected in the current ABA Standard 302(a)(5) and the revised ABA Standard 303(a)(1), students who have already satisfied their Professional Responsibility Requirement are still invited to enroll and may consider writing a rigorously analytical paper in satisfaction of the S.A.W. requirement. Although this course is designed to familiarize the student with the rules covered by the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), it is not intended to supplant the traditional Professional Responsibility course, as it does not cover all the materials tested on that exam. Hence, the student is strongly encouraged at least to enroll in an MPRE review course or otherwise individually prepare for the MPRE. Students are required to participate in class, write a minimum of three response papers, write one seminar paper and give an oral presentation about his/her seminar paper in order to receive credit for the course.