This course introduces students to ethics and professional responsibility in the legal profession. A core question will involve how we – individually and collectively – should act. Our focus will be both conceptual and practical. Students will be expected to participate extensively. The course has three main learning objectives.
Knowledge. The first objective is two-fold: to look at what the landscape of the legal profession is, can and should be; and then to situate lawyers and their conduct in that landscape. We will look at ethical codes that govern lawyers, their relationships with clients and the profession. We will also look more broadly at various aspects of lawyering and the profession, including self-regulation, the nature of the adversary system, demographics, ethical tensions between zealous representation and a commitment to the public interest, various practice contexts, access to justice and innovation.
Skills. The second objective of the course is to help students to think about what ethical issues arise in practice, how they arise and how they can – and in some cases must – be dealt with. To help develop these skills and identify available tools and resources, in addition to the assigned materials, we will regularly use hypothetical problems and exercises to spark thinking and active in-class discussion.
Reflection. The third objective – primarily through participation, a group presentation and a final paper – is to encourage students to identify and reflect on issues and topics of specific interest to them.