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 (2nd. ed 2013), 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.
Yesterday was a snow day in Winston Salem and @ Wake Forest; in addition to my students instructional video assignments for our flipped class, I asked them to “build a snow person and explain the Rule 1.6 exceptions to him/her.” The pictures started rolling in mid-day, and I thought you might enjoy. These students’ sense of humor will take them far in practice.
David Cole has read the Senate Torture Report and finds it is an unsatisfactory political compromise which focuses on effectiveness rather than the illegality of torture – thus letting the political decision makers and the designers of spurious legal defenses off the hook. – gwc
Did the Torture Report Give the CIA a Bum Rap?
by David Cole
by John Steele//Legal Ethics forum
Howard Shipley, of Foley & Lardner, responded to the order from SCOTUS that he explain the unorthodox amicus brief that he had filed on behalf of an apparently demanding and idiosyncratic client in a patent case. The amicus brief was jargon-filled, odd in its rhetorical style, and full of super-condensed references. It also suggested that the client was a significant author of the piece — which SCOTUS guidelines suggest should not be included in briefs.
Shipley’s response, available below, politely affirms the right of Shipley to file such an amicus brief and suggests that a technical error (i.e., acknowledging the client’s participation in the drafting) should not be grounds for sanctions. (h/t: How Appealing)
What I find particularly interesting is the way that Shipley’s response, authored by Paul Clement, discusses the balance between the lawyer’s duties to the client and to the court.
OTHERWISE: Judge's DOJ Protest Shows Power of Judicial Independence | New Jersey Law Journal.
Judge Rakoff has a reputation for speaking his mind in written opinions, published articles and speeches on issues that concern people who are without political, legal or economic power. While some may view him an outlier, he is a frequent reminder of the positive force of an independent federal judiciary.
OTHERWISE: Legal Ethics Forum: Catherine Lanctot, "Becoming a Competent 21st Century Legal Ethics Professor: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Technology (But Were Afraid to Ask)".
Article. (Catherine Lanctot’s article, Attorney-Client Relationships in Cyberspace: The Peril and the Promise, 49 Duke Law Journal 147-259 (1999) was one of the first — the very first? — long form article applying the Law Governing Lawyers to lawyers’ behavior in cyberspace.) Abstract of her new article:
This Article provides a roadmap for rebooting the legal ethics curriculum. It describes how to revise a traditional legal ethics class to respond to twenty-first century law practice, and provides a detailed overview of the landscape of technological issues currently affecting the practice of law, including many cautionary tales of lawyers who ignored their ethical responsibilities.
We have finally hit the tipping point with respect to the use of technology within the legal profession, as bar regulators have begun to warn attorneys that they may no longer plead ignorance of technological advances if such ignorance harms the interests of their clients. With technological competence becoming more important for lawyers with each passing year, we do our students a disservice if we do not prepare them adequately for their future in the law.
Legal ethics professors are uniquely situated to impress upon our students the obligation to understand the risks and benefits of technology in the practice of law. But before we can ensure that our students are competent to enter a world of rapid and disruptive technological change, we need to be sure that we are competent ourselves. This may be unwelcome news for many colleagues, especially those who still harbor a little bit of the Luddite spirit that has always been a part of the legal profession.
Integrating ethical issues arising from technology can be readily accomplished if we commit ourselves to carrying out this objective. By embracing the challenge of imbuing our approach to the study of legal ethics with a focus on technological innovation, in both our teaching and our scholarship, we can be important voices at this time of transformation.