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Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Interpreting Ethics Rules, Samuel J. Levine Feb 2024

Interpreting Ethics Rules, Samuel J. Levine

Pepperdine Law Review

This Article explores the interpretation of ethics rules through the prism of two rules that have been the subject of ongoing controversy and contention: Rule 4.2, the “no-contact” rule, which prohibits a lawyer from communicating with a represented client absent the consent of that client’s lawyer, and Rule 8.4(g), which prohibits various forms of discrimination and harassment. Each of these rules provides a model for a wider examination of different interpretive approaches to ethics rules, grounded in different attitudes toward the features and functions of ethics codes. Specifically, the debate revolving around Rule 4.2 illustrates competing approaches to interpreting a …


The Lawyer's Duty Of Competence In A Climate-Imperiled World, John C. Dernbach, Irma S. Russell, Matthew Bogoshian Jan 2024

The Lawyer's Duty Of Competence In A Climate-Imperiled World, John C. Dernbach, Irma S. Russell, Matthew Bogoshian

Faculty Works

The United States has more than 1.3 million practicing lawyers. Under Model Rule 1.1 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and every state’s rules of conduct, each of these lawyers owes clients competent representation. Under the rule, “[c]ompetent representation requires the knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the services.” While law and rules will undoubtedly change in response to the climate crisis, the duty of competence does not await such change or legal reform. The ubiquitous nature of the duty of competence means it is applicable to each lawyer now and will continue to evolve as …


Mandatory Anti-Bias Cle: A Serious Problem Deserves A More Meaningful Response, Rima Sirota Jan 2024

Mandatory Anti-Bias Cle: A Serious Problem Deserves A More Meaningful Response, Rima Sirota

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This essay addresses the problematic convergence of two recent trends: (1) the expansion of jurisdictions requiring anti-bias training (ABT) as part of mandatory continuing legal education (CLE), and (2) the growing recognition among social scientists that such training, at least as currently practiced, is of limited effectiveness.

Forty-six American states require continuing legal education (CLE), and eleven of these states now require lawyer ABT as one facet of CLE requirements. I have previously criticized the mandatory CLE system because so little evidence supports the conclusion that it results in more competent lawyers. The central question tackled by this essay is …


John Osborn's Enduring Words On Law & Learning, Walter Effross Mar 2023

John Osborn's Enduring Words On Law & Learning, Walter Effross

Popular Media

When I started my first year at Harvard Law School, 17 years after Osborn did, I wasn’t looking for enlightenment. But I expected to be — and was — intimidated by Socratic taskmasters who, like the movie version of Osborn’s Professor Kingsfield (a role for which John Houseman won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award in 1973), were ready with “always another question, another question to follow your answer.”


Modalities Of Social Change Lawyering, Christine N. Cimini, Doug Smith Mar 2023

Modalities Of Social Change Lawyering, Christine N. Cimini, Doug Smith

Articles

The last decade has seen the rise of new kinds of grassroots social movements. Movements including Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, Sunrise, and #MeToo pushed back against long-standing political, economic, and social crises, including income inequality, racial inequality, police violence, climate change, and the widespread culture of sexual abuse and harassment. As these social change efforts evolve, a growing body of scholarship has begun to theorize the role of lawyers within these new social movements and to identify lawyering characteristics that contribute to sustaining social movements over time. This Article surveys this body of literature and proposes a typology …


Trauma-Informed (As A Matter Of) Course, Natalie Netzel Jan 2023

Trauma-Informed (As A Matter Of) Course, Natalie Netzel

American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law

Law students are impacted by trauma and law professors are in a position to help by adopting a trauma-informed approach as a matter of universal precaution. The 2021 Survey of Law Student Well-Being (“SLSWB”) revealed that over twenty percent of responding law students meet criteria that indicate they should be evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”). The study also revealed that almost fifty percent of responding students reported an important motivation for attending law school was experiencing a trauma or injustice. Put differently, law schools are full of law students who have experienced trauma, many of whom are actively struggling …


Unsettling Human Rights Clinical Pedagogy And Practice In Settler Colonial Contexts, Jocelyn Getgen Kestenbaum, Caroline Bishop Laporte Jan 2023

Unsettling Human Rights Clinical Pedagogy And Practice In Settler Colonial Contexts, Jocelyn Getgen Kestenbaum, Caroline Bishop Laporte

American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law

In settler colonial contexts, law and educational institutions operate as structures of oppression, extraction, erasure, disempowerment, and continuing violence against colonized peoples. Consequently, clinical legal advocacy often can reinforce coloniality—the logic that perpetuates structural violence against individuals and groups resisting colonization and struggling for survival as peoples. Critical legal theory, including Third World Approaches to International Law (“TWAIL”), has long exposed colonial laws and practices that entrench discriminatory, racialized power structures and prevent transformative international human rights advocacy. Understanding and responding to these critiques can assist in decolonizing international human rights clinical law teaching and practice but is insufficient in …


Ethical Lawyering: The Role Of Honor, Conscience, And Codes (Reviewing Michael S. Ariens, The Lawyer’S Conscience: A History Of American Lawyer Ethics), Vincent R. Johnson Jan 2023

Ethical Lawyering: The Role Of Honor, Conscience, And Codes (Reviewing Michael S. Ariens, The Lawyer’S Conscience: A History Of American Lawyer Ethics), Vincent R. Johnson

Faculty Articles

Michael Ariens’ new book, The Lawyer’s Conscience: A History of American Lawyer Ethics, is a monumental work, rooted in his decades of excellent scholarship in the fields of attorney professional responsibility and legal history. The Lawyer’s Conscience captures the great sweep and key features of the roughly 250-year period in American legal ethics running from colonial times to the present day. Richly detailed and vividly presented, the story takes the reader on a grand tour of the landmark events and changing ideas that have defined the aspirations, responsibilities, and accountability of members of the American legal profession.


Lawyers As Caregivers, Paula Schaefer Jun 2022

Lawyers As Caregivers, Paula Schaefer

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

This Article argues that clients—much like patients in a healthcare setting—need their lawyers to be caregivers. The Article opens by developing a definition of caregiving in medicine and law. It then turns to five key components of caregiving in medicine, explaining the substantial research that this care is crucial for patient satisfaction, trust, and healing. Medical educators have drawn on this research to better prepare medical professionals to be excellent caregivers. The Article then explores the evidence that an attorney’s clients have the same needs and suffer similar harm when attorneys fail to meet these needs. Next, the Article turns …


Protecting The Guild Or Protecting The Public? Bar Exams And The Diploma Privilege, Milan Markovic Jun 2022

Protecting The Guild Or Protecting The Public? Bar Exams And The Diploma Privilege, Milan Markovic

Faculty Scholarship

The bar examination has long loomed over legal education. Although many states formerly admitted law school graduates into legal practice via the diploma privilege, Wisconsin is the only state that recognizes the privilege today. The bar examination is so central to the attorney admissions process that all but a handful of jurisdictions required it amidst a pandemic that turned bar exam administration into a life-or-death matter.

This Article analyzes the diploma privilege from a historical and empirical perspective. Whereas courts and regulators maintain that bar examinations screen out incompetent practitioners, the legal profession formerly placed little emphasis on bar examinations …


Aba Model Rule 8.4(G), Discriminatory Speech, And The First Amendment, Bruce Green, Rebecca Roiphe Apr 2022

Aba Model Rule 8.4(G), Discriminatory Speech, And The First Amendment, Bruce Green, Rebecca Roiphe

Articles & Chapters

The ABA adopted Model Rule 8.4(g), which targets certain speech and conduct that are based on “race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status.” In particular, according to the accompanying comment, Rule 8.4(g) reaches speech that is “derogatory and demeaning” or that “manifests bias or prejudice towards others” and is “harmful” (including, presumably, emotionally harmful). This rule targets a significant amount of speech that would be constitutionally protected if it were uttered by a nonlawyer. This article argues that there is no justification for treating lawyers differently from others in many …


Ethical Limits On Promising To Pay An Adverse Award Of Attorney’S Fees Against One’S Client, Chase C. Parsons Jan 2022

Ethical Limits On Promising To Pay An Adverse Award Of Attorney’S Fees Against One’S Client, Chase C. Parsons

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

Abstract forthcoming.


Building Fierce Empathy, Binny Miller Jan 2022

Building Fierce Empathy, Binny Miller

Articles in Law Reviews & Other Academic Journals

In this Article I explore the process of building and sustaining empathy with clients in the context of representing juvenile lifers-- people convicted of serious crimes as children and sentenced to life or sentences that ensure that they spend most of their lives in prison--in a law school clinic. Before turning to my own lawyering experiences and those of my clinic students, I ground the discussion of empathy in the competing theories of Charles Ogletree and Abbe Smith about the value of empathic lawyering for public defenders. These theories, together with the contributions of other scholars, provide a springboard for …


The Appearance Of Appearances, Michael Ariens Jan 2022

The Appearance Of Appearances, Michael Ariens

Faculty Articles

The Framers argued judicial independence was necessary to the success of the American democratic experiment. Independence required judges possess and act with integrity. One aspect of judicial integrity was impartiality. Impartial judging was believed crucial to public confidence that the decisions issued by American courts followed the rule of law. Public confidence in judicial decision making promoted faith and belief in an independent judiciary. The greater the belief in the independent judiciary, the greater the chance of continued success of the republic.

During the nineteenth century, state constitutions, courts, and legislatures slowly expanded the instances in which a judge was …


Anti-Discrimination Ethics Rules And The Legal Profession, Michael Ariens Jan 2022

Anti-Discrimination Ethics Rules And The Legal Profession, Michael Ariens

Faculty Articles

“Reputation ought to be the perpetual subject of my Thoughts, and Aim of my Behaviour. How shall I gain a Reputation! How shall I Spread an Opinion of myself as a Lawyer of distinguished Genius, Learning, and Virtue.” So wrote twenty-four-year-old John Adams in his diary in 1759. He had been a licensed lawyer for just three years at that time and had already believed himself to be hounded by “Petty foggers” and “dirty Dablers in the Law”—unlicensed attorneys who, Adams claimed, fomented vexatious litigation for the fees they might earn.

Adams believed his embrace of virtue, along with genius …


Designing Interdisciplinary, Early Intervention Dispute Resolution Tools To Decrease Evictions And Increase Housing Stability, Christine N. Cimini Jan 2022

Designing Interdisciplinary, Early Intervention Dispute Resolution Tools To Decrease Evictions And Increase Housing Stability, Christine N. Cimini

Articles

This Article provides a unique glimpse into the development of an early-intervention, pre-court, interdisciplinary dispute resolution project intended to decrease evictions and increase housing stability for recipients of subsidized housing in Seattle. With a grant from the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), a coalition of non-profit organizations had the rare opportunity to design a dispute resolution system into existence. A dispute system design team was formed and began by examining the interconnected problems of housing instability, eviction, and houselessness. Despite thorough research on dispute system design and extensive meetings with stakeholders, the deign team encountered numerous challenges. This Article identifies the …


The Fall Of An American Lawyer, Michael Ariens Jan 2022

The Fall Of An American Lawyer, Michael Ariens

Faculty Articles

John Randall is the only former president of the American Bar Association to be disbarred. He wrote a will for a client, Lovell Myers, with whom Randall had been in business for over a quarter-century. The will left all of Myers’s property to Randall, and implicitly disinherited his only child, Marie Jensen. When Jensen learned of the existence of a will, she sued to set it aside. She later filed a complaint with the Iowa Committee on Professional Ethics and Conduct. That complaint was the catalyst leading to Randall’s disbarment.

Randall had acted grievously in serving as Lovell Myers’s attorney. …


The Overreach Of Limits On 'Legal Advice', Lauren Sudeall Jan 2022

The Overreach Of Limits On 'Legal Advice', Lauren Sudeall

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Nonlawyers, including court personnel, are typically prohibited from providing legal advice. But definitions of “legal advice” are unnecessarily broad, creating confusion, disadvantaging self-represented litigants, and possibly raising due process concerns. This Essay argues for a narrower, more explicit definition of legal advice that advances, rather than undercuts, access to justice.


Professional Responsibility, Legal Malpractice, Cybersecurity, And Cyber-Insurance In The Covid-19 Era, Ethan S. Burger Oct 2021

Professional Responsibility, Legal Malpractice, Cybersecurity, And Cyber-Insurance In The Covid-19 Era, Ethan S. Burger

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, law firms conformed their activities to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and state health authority guidelines by immediately reducing the size of gatherings, encouraging social distancing, and mandating the use of protective gear. These changes necessitated the expansion of law firm remote operations, made possible by the increased adoption of technological tools to coordinate workflow and administrative tasks, communicate with clients, and engage with judicial and governmental bodies.

Law firms’ increased use of these technological tools for carrying out legal and administrative activities has implications …


Negative Commentary—Negative Consequences: Legal Ethics, Social Media, And The Impact Of Explosive Commentary, Jan L. Jacobowitz Ms. Oct 2021

Negative Commentary—Negative Consequences: Legal Ethics, Social Media, And The Impact Of Explosive Commentary, Jan L. Jacobowitz Ms.

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

Connecting and sharing on social media has opened communication channels and provided instantaneous information to billions of people worldwide. Commentary on current events, cases, and negative online reviews may be posted in an instant, often without pause or thought about the potential repercussions. This global phenomenon may not only provide news of the day updates, humor, and support for those in need but also is replete with ethical landmines for the unwary lawyer. Lawyers commenting on current events, their cases, or responding to a client’s negative online review, have suffered damage to their careers. In some instances, they have even …


Model Rule 8.4(G) And The Profession’S Core Values Problem, Michael Ariens Oct 2021

Model Rule 8.4(G) And The Profession’S Core Values Problem, Michael Ariens

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

Model Rule 8.4(g) declares it misconduct for a lawyer to “engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law.” The American Bar Association (ABA) adopted the rule in 2016 in large part to effectuate the third of its four mission goals: Eliminate Bias and Enhance Diversity. The ABA adopted these goals in 2008, and they continue to serve as ABA’s statement of its mission.

A …


The Incorporation Of Government Lawyering In The Teaching Of Legal Ethics In Canadian Law Schools, Andrew Martin, Leslie Walden Apr 2021

The Incorporation Of Government Lawyering In The Teaching Of Legal Ethics In Canadian Law Schools, Andrew Martin, Leslie Walden

Articles, Book Chapters, & Popular Press

Government lawyers, and the specific legal ethics issues that arise in their practices, remain largely overlooked in Canadian legal education. The authors argue that government lawyering should be better incorporated into legal ethics curricula in law schools, for both practical and conceptual reasons. Most importantly, understanding issues unique to government lawyering helps students better understand core concepts in legal ethics, and thus better prepare for the practice of law both in the public and private sectors. While law teachers face serious challenges in incorporating government lawyering into legal ethics education, many of those challenges can be confronted and ameliorated. The …


“Listserv Lawyering”: Definition And Exploration Of Its Utility In Representation Of Consumer Debtors In Bankruptcy And In Law Practice Generally, Josiah M. Daniel Iii Jan 2021

“Listserv Lawyering”: Definition And Exploration Of Its Utility In Representation Of Consumer Debtors In Bankruptcy And In Law Practice Generally, Josiah M. Daniel Iii

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

The author examines the communications and activities of bankruptcy lawyers participating in the listserv of the Bankruptcy Law Section of the State Bar of Texas and finds that those activities constitute a previously unrecognized form of “lawyering,” which he has defined as the work of lawyers in and through the legal system to accomplish the objectives of their clients. Review of specific postings about legal issues and practical problems by Texas bankruptcy lawyers, whose practices are primarily on behalf of individual debtors in cases under Chapters 7 and 13 of the Bankruptcy Code, and observations about the voluntary, collaborative, and …


Punishing The Victim: Model Rule 1.16(A)(2) And Its Relation To Lawyers With Anxiety, Depression, And Bipolar Disorder, Daniel G. Esquivel Jan 2021

Punishing The Victim: Model Rule 1.16(A)(2) And Its Relation To Lawyers With Anxiety, Depression, And Bipolar Disorder, Daniel G. Esquivel

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

Abstract forthcoming.


Going Beyond Rule 8.4(G): A Shift To Active And Conscious Efforts To Dismantle Bias, Meredith R. Miller Jan 2021

Going Beyond Rule 8.4(G): A Shift To Active And Conscious Efforts To Dismantle Bias, Meredith R. Miller

Journal of Race, Gender, and Ethnicity

No abstract provided.


Change At The Speed Of Leadership, Lee Fisher Jan 2021

Change At The Speed Of Leadership, Lee Fisher

Law Faculty Articles and Essays

“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born—that there is a genetic factor to leadership. . . That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.”

“Lawyers are in the anomalous position of serving as leaders but generally lacking leadership training and skills. Competency in lawyering skills often functions as a proxy for leadership skills, despite the evidence that leadership skills are distinct and may take years to develop. Our neglect of leadership skills is reaching crisis proportions because nearly half of all current law firm partners will retire within the next ten …


Where Are We Going? The Past And Future Of Canadian Scholarship On Legal Ethics For Government Lawyers, Andrew Flavelle Martin Jan 2021

Where Are We Going? The Past And Future Of Canadian Scholarship On Legal Ethics For Government Lawyers, Andrew Flavelle Martin

Articles, Book Chapters, & Popular Press

In this essay I assess and reflect on the past and future of the Canadian literature on legal ethics and professionalism for government lawyers in order to identify strengths and weaknesses and areas for growth and to evaluate its long-term viability. I call for the existing and continuing first wave of doctrinal work to be joined by a second wave of analytical and critical work. Ultimately, I conclude that this literature is at a defining moment and that, without timely and sustained contributions by both academics and government lawyers, it risks failure as a meaningful area of study.

Dans cet …


Technology And The (Re)Construction Of Law, Christian Sundquist Jan 2021

Technology And The (Re)Construction Of Law, Christian Sundquist

Articles

Innovative advancements in technology and artificial intelligence have created a unique opportunity to re-envision both legal education and the practice of law. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the technological disruption of both legal education and practice, as remote work, “Zoom” client meetings, virtual teaching, and online dispute resolution have become increasingly normalized. This essay explores how technological innovations in the coronavirus era are facilitating radical changes to our traditional adversarial system, the practice of law, and the very meaning of “legal knowledge.” It concludes with suggestions on how to reform legal education to better prepare our students for the emerging …


Lawyers, Mistakes, And Moral Growth (Reviewing Mike H. Bassett, The Man In The Ditch: A Redemption Story For Today), Vincent R. Johnson Jan 2021

Lawyers, Mistakes, And Moral Growth (Reviewing Mike H. Bassett, The Man In The Ditch: A Redemption Story For Today), Vincent R. Johnson

Faculty Articles

In the literature of legal ethics, relatively little is said about the psychic turmoil that lawyers face while anticipating or defending a grievance, malpractice claim, or criminal charge. Even less is said about how lawyers who are found guilty of violating professional standards should go about rebuilding their reputations and personal lives after such proceedings have run their course, often with embarrassing results having been made public. Against this bleak backdrop, a dazzlingly introspective and hopeful book about lawyers and their mistakes-and about their suffering and possible moral growth-has been published.


Model Rule 8.4(G) And The Profession's Core Values Problem, Michael Ariens Jan 2021

Model Rule 8.4(G) And The Profession's Core Values Problem, Michael Ariens

Faculty Articles

Model Rule 8.4(g) declares it misconduct for a lawyer to "engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law." The American Bar Association (ABA) adopted the rule in 2016, in large part to effectuate the third of its four mission goals: Eliminate Bias and Enhance Diversity. The ABA adopted these goals in 2008, and they continue to serve as ABA's statement of its mission.

A …