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Legal Ethics

This course is a survey overview of the American legal profession, some of its leading institutions and fields of practice, and the ethical, legal, and administrative regimes that govern the practice of law. Topics will include overviews of the history and sociology of the profession; the role of lawyers as advocates in the adversary system, as counselors and as gatekeepers; obligations to clients, courts, adversaries, and third parties; obligations of competence, loyalty, and confidentiality; and modes of regulation.nThe course is in part designed to satisfy the American Bar Association's requirement that every law student have some instruction in professional responsibility and legal ethics. The course provides an introduction to and an overview of the ABA's Model Rules of Professional Conduct. (Most of the states - California is the major exception - base their ethics codes largely on the Model Rules, with modifications varying from state to state.) But the course also reflects the view that it is of limited use to learn the ethics rules in the abstract. Lawyers in different practice contexts face very different pressures and incentives to engage in unethical conduct; and develop very different norms and customs about how to interpret the rules. In any case, as we'll see, the Rules are wholly inadequate guides to practice. They are silent or vague on many of the important dilemmas lawyers face and they are only one of many sources of law governing lawyers.nThe "legal profession" is really many different sub-professions, segmented by education, practice institutions (e.g. large firms v. small and solo practices), practice specialties, and types of represented parties (e.g. plaintiffs or defendants, individuals or corporate entities, governments or private parties). Much of this course is given to descriptions and analyses of some of these various practices and of the organizations and incentives that structure lawyers' work. So, for example, we will be looking at large law firms representing and counseling corporate clients; plaintiff's lawyers representing individuals in personal-injury tort or mass-tort class-action litigation; prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers; and "public interest" lawyers.nCourse requirements may be satisfied in one of two ways: (1) A take-home examination given at the end of the course; or (2) A research paper on a topic within the scope of the course, based in significant part on primary source materials. A maximum of 10 students will be permitted to write the paper for R credit. After the term begins, 10 students may transfer from section (01) into section (02), which meets the R requirement, with consent of the instructor. If more than 10 students apply to write a research paper for R credit, a lottery will be run to determine the 10 students accepted in section (02).nElements used in grading: Attendance, class participation, take-home exam or research paper. nPreference for 3Ls.

2013-2014 Autumn
09/26/2013 - 12/05/2013 Mon ,Wed 11:10 AM - 12:40 PM at Law180
Instructors: Robert W. Gordon
Notes: Ethics Requirement for Law Degree. Law Lottery. One-Day Take-Home Exam.
09/26/2013 - 12/05/2013 Mon ,Wed 11:10 AM - 12:40 PM
Instructors: Robert W. Gordon
Notes: Ethics Requirement for Law Degree. Instructor consent required. Research Requirement for Law Degree.

Instructors for this course

Deborah L. Rhode
Robert W. Gordon