Law 312 - Professional Responsibility and Lawyering Dilemmas

Joseph Lipner

Joseph Lipner

Lecturer in Law
B.A. Yeshiva College, 1985
J.D. Harvard Law School, 1988
Course Description:

The course described below will teach the key concepts of professional responsibility with an emphasis on lawyering dilemmas that frequently arise in modern law practice.  This will be a 2 unit course meeting once a week that would fulfill the professional responsibility requirements for LLM and JD students. 

The decisions applying the rules of legal ethics present a unique body of law in which the lawyers themselves, rather than their clients, are the principal actors.  Professional responsibility is the law of lawyering:  what conduct by attorneys is worthy of praise, and what is forbidden?  This course will teach the basics of this law by focusing on the ethical problems that lawyers in the United States often face, including, for example:  When is it permitted to file a lawsuit that may or may not be meritorious?  When may – or must – an attorney report the fraudulent or criminal conduct of her client?  When does a lawyer conducting a business negotiation violate the ethics rules by not revealing facts about his position to the opposing side?  Under what circumstances, if any, may an attorney counsel a client that destruction of documents is permissible?

Correctly analyzing – and as importantly, recognizing – the ethical issues that arise in complex situations is critical to any practicing attorney.  After taking the course, a student should be able to spot the ethical issues that arise in legal practice, identify the principles and rules governing attorney conduct and analyze the legal responsibilities of the lawyers in those circumstances.  The reading for this course will include selections from Legal Ethics in the Practice of Law (4th edition) by Zitrin, Langford and Cole, excerpted case law, the ABA Model Rules and the California Rules of Professional Conduct. 


Course Information:
​Faculty Term Course Section ​Schedule ​Units Requisite Satisfies SAW
Joseph Lipner 17S 312 LEC 2 W 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM 2.0 No No
  LLM students have priority for enrollment during first enrollment pass. Although the course is not limited to LLM students, the course will most likely be filled with LLM students after the first enrollment pass period.
Textbook Information:
Textbook for Spring 2017 LEC 2
Morgan and Rotunda. Model Rules of Professional Conduct and Other Selected Standards Including California and New York Rules on Professional Responsibility   2017 ed.  
ISBN: 9781634607131. Foundation Press. REQUIRED
Zitrin, Langford, and Cole. Legal Ethics in the Practice of Law  4th ed.  
ISBN: 9780769852836. LexisNexis. REQUIRED $213.75