Lawyers are professionals. This is a course about professionalism in the practice of law, and how attorneys can develop and maintain it in the face of today’s pressures, including increased competition. It is not a course in the formal rules of professional responsibility, although there is considerable overlap involving ethics and professionalism. This overlap will be explored, along with the enduring core values essential to the legal profession.
This course also serves as a way to prepare students for the transition from law school to law practice, by attempting to address some of the real-life situations that will likely face new attorneys. It has been suggested by past students that the course should be subtitled “What they never told me in my other law school classes.”
The course will address, among other things, professionalism issues that arise in the context of the lawyer's relationships with clients, judges, opposing counsel, co-counsel, the public, court staff, and support staff. Guest speakers from the legal profession and the judicial branch will be invited from time to time to address the class.
A sampling of the subjects to be covered includes:
Professionalism vs. Ethics
Civility and courtesy vs. strategy and tactics
The meaning and role of advocacy
The purging of "zealous advocacy"
Discovery abuse and other unhappy practices
Core values of the profession
Competence in an increasingly complex field
Lying by lawyers
Traditional roles of the lawyer
Officer of the Court
Professionalism vs. money
Are they mutually exclusive?
Pro bono service
Transactional lawyers vs. litigators
Costs of unprofessionalism
To the profession
To the justice system
To the public
To the client
To civilized society
To the individual lawyer
Text and materials compiled by professor, including law review and journal articles on professionalism.
Lecture and discussion. This course will require attendance at each class and active student participation. The class will involve extensive use of hypotheticals raising the subjects mentioned in the course overview.
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Class participation and paper.