Welcome! We would like you to join our community as we promote study of, and debate regarding, the professional responsibility of lawyers. Although our blog will serve as a resource for users of Professional Responsibility: A Contemporary Approach (2010), the current developments, innovative teaching materials, and commentary should be thought-provoking and fun for all those interested in the legal profession. Please feel free to share your ideas and we will post as much as we can.
Capital defense attorneys – like others who represent the despised – have long been held in high regard by the legal profession. “A lawyer’s representation of a client”, RPC 1.2 (c) tells us “does not constitute an endorsement of the clients political, economic, social or moral views or activities”. One would hope, we know now in vain, that the United States Senate would appreciate that point. Instead conservative Democrats from “red states” abandoned “Debo P. Adegbile, who headed the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund when it represented Mr. [Mumia] Abu-Jamal decades after his conviction, could not overcome a concerted campaign by Republicans, conservative activists and law enforcement organizations, still infuriated by the murder of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.” – gwc
George Anastaplo has died aged 88. The political philosopher and Loyola Chicago law professor as a young man defied the Illinois State Bar which refused to admit him because he refused to say if he was a Communist or not. He appealed – all the way to the Supreme Court which upheld the denial in a 1961 opinion by Justice John Marshal Harlan.
In dissent Associate Justice Hugo Black observed ” he had discontinued his education at the age of eighteen, and joined the Air Force during the middle of World War II — flying as a navigator in every major theater of the military operations of that war. Upon receiving an honorable discharge in 1947, he had come to Chicago and resumed his education, obtaining his undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago and entering immediately into the study of law at the University of Chicago Law School. His record throughout his life, both as a student and as a citizen, was unblemished.”
Andrew Dwyer – a plaintiff’s employment law practitioner – is by all accounts (including a recent adversary with whom I have spoken) a fine lawyer. New Jersey law provides for fee shifting in discrimination cases. Where he has succeeded judges have made findings regarding Dwyer’s skill and performance. He has advertised those judicial statements as facts – which they are.
But according to the Committee on Attorney Advertising of the New Jersey Supreme Court they are misleading statements that run afoul the Court’s Advertising Guideline 3 which the Committee adopted. It provides:
Attorney Advertisements: Use of Quotations or Excerpts From Judicial Opinions About the Legal Abilities of an Attorney
An Attorney or law firm may not include, on a website or other advertisement, a
quotation or excerpt from a court opinion (oral or written) about the attorney’s abilities or legal services. An attorney may, however, present the full text of opinions, including those that discuss the attorney’s legal abilities, on a website or other advertisement.
In the Committee’s view the statement while factually accurate as reports are misleading regarding their meaning. The statements are findings of fact – not judicial endorsements of a an attorney. To make such an endorsement would be improper for a judge and Dwyer’s use of them gives a misleading impression. Dwyer challenged the Guideline in federal courtas a violation of his First Amendment right to commercial speech. The disciplinary stricture was upheld last year in an opinion by by District Judge Faith Hochberg who granted summary judgment to the state. Dwyer has now taken the matter to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. – GWC
This ad appears to be an homage to the famous Apple “Great Thinkers” ad. Worth considering for Chapter 2 (nonlawyer practice).
Spring 2014 will be the first semester that I have used the Pearce, Capra, Green, Knake and Terry casebook. I am still in the process of adapting and figuring out my rhythm for this casebook since I had used my prior casebook for more than twenty years.
One of the things that I appreciate about the current casebook is that my co-authors Russ Pearce and Renee Knake posted their PowerPoint slides on the blog. On the one hand, I found this is extremely helpful. On the other hand, I find it very difficult to use other people’s slides – especially lengthy slides – because it limits my flexibility in the way I teach the class. For example, when I teach Civil Procedure, I use a casebook that has lengthy slides available. But I find that I only use a slide here or there (usually those with good graphics). I prefer to have a file folder of Word documents so that I can keep my flexibility in switching in between documents.
Although I am only at the beginning of Week 2 of this Semester’s Professional Responsibility course, I feel that I am beginning to get a sense of how I will prepare for class. I thought I would share my approach (and PowerPoint slides) in case anyone else would find them useful (especially those teaching from this casebook for the first time).
I teach the course primarily as a statutory course in which we try to figure out what the rules say, how they should be applied, and whether the students approve of the policy choices reflected in the rules. I focus quite a bit on methodology and consider that equally important as the substantive material we are covering. In my experience, students (and lawyers), are not as facile in dealing with statutes as I think they should be. This is one of the reasons why I like to teach using the problem method. After identifying a particular problem, my opening question is usually “how do we tackle this problem?” That question should elicit the correct rule. My second question often asks the students to “eyeball” the rule and try to understand and explain its structure – for example, whether a particular section sets forth a mandatory prohibition, whether it functions as an exception, or whether it is a definition. I will then ask the students to walk us through the particular elements, identifying whether elements are conjunctive or disjunctive. After that, we will turn back to the problem and apply the analysis to the particular fact pattern.
For this reason, I decided that I would prefer to have PowerPoint slides that contained ONLY the questions, rather than a PowerPoint that contains all the material we will use in class. I flip back and forth between the PowerPoint problems and the relevant ABA Model Rule, which I have saved as Word documents. (I prefer using a Word version of a Model Rule to the free online version because it is easier to annotate the Word version plus it includes the comment.)
For this reason, most of my PowerPoint slides set forth the structure of the material we are covering or the discussion problem (but not the choices or the applicable rule). I am happy to share my Word documents Via Dropbox if anyone is interested in them. Just this week, I decided that in the future, I would prepare a second PowerPoint file for each assignment and that this second file would include the case illustrations and video links. By having these in a separate file, I have more control over whether and how they are used.
I hope these observations have been helpful.
Here’s a dramatic, unusual lawyer ad that ran during the 2014 Superbowl in Savannah, Georgia. It’s two minutes long and probably wins the award for lawyer superbowl ads.
H/T Phil Crain. FYI, Bill Hancock of SB Nation describes it as “the most insane (local) Super Bowl ad ever.” And for more on attorney Jamie Casino, the lawyer who made the ad, see Elie Mystal’s Above the Law post.
Here’s a second — and more standard — ad that Joe Patrice of Above the Law absolutely hates.