Welcome!

Welcome to our community of professional responsibility teachers! This web site provides teaching resources, ranging from syllabi and powerpoints to real time updates and videos. The web site accompanies our casebook Professional Responsibility:  A Contemporary Approach (4th ed. 2020). The Casebook uses the problem method and offers learning outcomes, multiple choice assessment questions, role plays and simulations, and an interactive online version that includes short audio lectures. Please feel free to share your ideas and resources with our community of adopters.

You may review the Table of Contents here.

We look forward to getting to know you and working with you and our fellow adopters.

Renee Knake Jefferson, Russell G. Pearce, Bruce A. Green, Peter A. Joy, Sung Hui Kim, M. Ellen Murphy,  Laurel S. Terry, & Lonnie T. Brown, Jr.

Nominations for the Fred C. Zacharias Memorial Prize for Scholarship in Professional Responsibility

Submissions and nominations of articles are being accepted for the twelfth annual Fred C. Zacharias Memorial Prize for Scholarship in Professional Responsibility.  To honor Fred’s memory, the committee will select from among articles in the field of Professional Responsibility with a publication date of 2021.  The prize will be awarded at the 2022 AALS Annual Meeting.  Please send submissions and nominations to Professor Samuel Levine at Touro Law Center: slevine@tourolaw.edu.  The deadline for submissions and nominations is September 1, 2021.

 William Barr: D.C. Bar Disciplinary Counsel Refuses to Investigate

Source: OTHERWISE: William Barr: D.C. Bar Disciplinary Counsel Refuses to Investigate

Via a form letter the D.C. Bar Office of Disciplinary Counsel informed the lawyers – including four former D.C. Bar Presidents that it would not investigate the actions of former Attorney General William Barr.  The gravamen of the charges filed is stated concisely by   former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger in a post on Just Security.  The charges are that in his service to the President rather than the country Barr should be sanctioned

Asserting that the complainants lacked “personal knowledge” the Office of Disciplinary Counsel said it does not “intervene in matters that are being discussed on the national political scene.

Justice Barrett’s moment of conscience – Jackson Women’s Health v. Dobbs

Source: OTHERWISE: Justice Barrett’s moment of conscience – Jackson Women’s Health v. Dobbs

Justice Amy Coney Barrett will be confronted by the conflict
between precedent and conscience as her Notre Dame colleague
and philosopher John Finnis argues that every fertilized egg is a person under the 14th Amendment, making abortion unconstitutional.

Former DC Bar Presidents and Bar Members Renew Call Disciplinary Action against Former AG William Barr in Light of Court Ruling

Below is a press release by Lawyers Defending Democracy

Source: Former DC Bar Presidents and Bar Members Renew Call Disciplinary Action against Former AG William Barr in Light of Court Ruling

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Four former presidents of the DC Bar and twenty-three other distinguished DC Bar members today renewed their 2020 call to the DC Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel to investigate and take disciplinary action against former Attorney General William P. Barr.

Their submission today is prompted by the May 3, 2021 opinion of Judge Amy Berman Jackson in CREW v. DOJ

, confirming that Attorney Barr and the Department of Justice under his leadership misled Congress and the public about the findings of the Mueller report.

 

The arguments filed today serve as a supplement to the comprehensive and detailed 37-page ethics complaint the group submitted against the former U.S. Attorney General in July 2020.

In Count I of the original complaint, the signers analyzed the ethical rules violated by Mr. Barr’s communications to Congress and the public concerning the Mueller report. Judge Jackson’s decision, the authors state, confirm the core allegation that, in absolving former President Trump of criminal liability for obstructing justice upon receiving the Mueller Report last year, Mr. Barr repeatedly engaged in dishonest and deceitful conduct. This latest rebuke of Mr. Barr follows similar conclusions reached by Judge Reggie Walton in another case last year.

The original complaint is believed to be the first time that former DC Bar Presidents and other bar leaders have ever united to file an ethics complaint against an Attorney General.

Andrea Ferster, a former DC Bar President and a signer, stated:

“When it is the country’s chief law enforcement official whose conduct two federal judges independently describe as ‘misleading,’ ‘distorted,’ ‘disingenuous’ and ‘lacking in candor,’ the integrity of the legal profession requires holding him accountable.”

Gershon (Gary) Ratner, the lead signer, co-founder of Lawyers Defending American Democracy and a former HUD Associate General Counsel for Litigation, continues:

“When lawyers’ gross ethical misconduct goes undisciplined, we give permission for others to do the same. As a self-regulating profession, we lawyers must show the public that this is not how lawyers of any kind, much less those in positions of power, may behave.” 

In urging the Bar to take action, the submission today concludes:

“The evidence here establishes that the highest law enforcement officer of the country misled the Congress and the public by blatant and cynical misuse of his office. . . . [T]he abuse of office by Mr. Barr and his subordinates is a critical test of the legal profession’s ability to regulate itself. If Mr. Barr’s misconduct is ignored or otherwise swept under the rug, the public may justly conclude that the powerful and connected are above the law.”

Today’s supplemental letter is being filed with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, District of Columbia Court of Appeals.  The letter is published by Lawyers Defending American Democracy and can be viewed online here.

Minnesota Legal Scholars Weigh In on Aftermath of Chauvin Verdict – Courthouse News Service

 

Source: OTHERWISE: Minnesota Legal Scholars Weigh In on Aftermath of Chauvin Verdict – Courthouse News Service

The astute former prosecutor who tweets as @legalnerd observes that there are serious issues to be raised on appeal.  Prominent among them, in my mind, are the refusal to move the trial from Minneapolis where jurors might feel pressured by the prospect of riots or social disapproval whether they acquitted or convicted; prejudicial publicity via the publicly announced $27 million settlement of civil claims by George Floyd’s family.  Such arguments are not frivolous.  They will fuel those unwilling to accept the conviction as just.- GWC

 California State Bar declares RPC 1.1 duty of tech competence, expands RPC 5.4 non-profit fee sharing rules

California State Bar declares RPC 1.1 duty of tech competence, expands RPC 5.4 non-profit fee sharing rules      Rule 1.1 addresses a lawyer duty of technical competence, and 5.4 declares that attorneys fees from a settlement – not simply court-awarded fees – may be shared with a non-profit….

Source: OTHERWISE: California State Bar declares RPC 1.1 duty of tech competence, expands RPC 5.4 non-profit fee sharing rules

 NJ ACPE Opinion 739: RPC 4.2 – Lawyers Who Include Clients on Group Emails and Opposing Lawyers Who ‘Reply All

Contrary to several other states, the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics holds that a lawyer who “cc’s” a client impliedly consents to his/her client receiving any replies directly.  – GWC

Source: OTHERWISE: NJ ACPE Opinion 739: RPC 4.2 – Lawyers Who Include Clients on Group Emails and Opposing Lawyers Who ‘Reply All

 Priscilla Read Chenoweth – lawyer, editor, crusader, dies at 90 – NY Times

She spent seven years and much of her retirement savings to prove that a teenager had been wrongly convicted of murder. 

Source: OTHERWISE: Priscilla Read Chenoweth – lawyer, editor, crusader, dies at 90 – NY Times

Priscilla Read Chenoweth was the most widely read lawyer in New Jersey for many years.  Her weekly precis of new decisions made the New Jersey Law Journal essential reading.  But she was also an impassioned advocate.  A passion she passed on to her daughter Lesley who, with her husband Michael Risinger leads Seton Hall’s Last Resort exoneration project. – gwc

 Meet The Voting Rights Heavy-Hitters That Biden Has Picked To Lead DOJ | Talking Points Memo

Meet The Voting Rights Heavy-Hitters That Biden Has Picked To Lead DOJ | Talking Points Memo By Tierney Sneed – February 25, 2021 President …

Source: OTHERWISE: Meet The Voting Rights Heavy-Hitters That Biden Has Picked To Lead DOJ | Talking Points Memo

By Tierney Sneed – February 25, 2021

President Biden has chosen for top positions at the Justice Department three advocates who have spent their lifetimes in the civil rights arena and the last four years in particular combatting the Trump-era’s most egregious assaults on democracy.

 

When then-President Trump put forward judicial nominees who had shown hostility to voting rights, Vanita Gupta organized the civil rights community pushback that helped sink the confirmations of at least two of them.

When the administration stood up a sketchy “election integrity” commission to validate Trump’s false voter fraud claims, Kristen Clarke spearheaded one of the early legal challenges that contributed to the panel’s eventual demise.

And when Trump hijacked the U.S. foreign policy apparatus to smear his 2020 presidential opponent, Pamela Karlan testified in House impeachment proceedings about the implications that gambit had for democracy.

Now all three have been selected for key DOJ positions from which they can revitalize the department’s role in the voting rights space — at a time when the threats to democratic participation are historically daunting.

 Chafetz: Nixon/Trump: Strategies of Judicial Aggrandizement – Georgetown – forthcoming

The rhetoric of judicial impartiality, of non-partisanship, of separation of powers dominates the language of judges – and of lawyers and acolytes in the media….

Source: OTHERWISE: Chafetz: Nixon/Trump: Strategies of Judicial Aggrandizement – Georgetown – forthcoming

Chafetz’s forthcoming Strategies of Judicial Aggrandizement is a rare treatment of the courts the way others are treated.  We are accustomed to the charge that bureaucracies try to increase their power, that legislatures overreach, and that Presidents tend toward the imperial (thank you Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.).  But rarely does “judicial aggrandizement” get any attention.

Sherrilyn A. Ifill: Lawyers Enabled Trump’s Worst Abuses – The New York Times

We have arrived at a time of reflection.  When Barack Obama was elected we felt, just perhaps, we have moved decisively toward that promised…

Source: OTHERWISE: Sherrilyn A. Ifill: Lawyers Enabled Trump’s Worst Abuses – The New York Times

NAACP LDF President Sherrilyn A. Ifill looks to South Africa’s  Truth & Reconciliation Commission as a model for use to follow – to look at our profession’s failures.  – GWC

Arizona Supreme Court opens door to non-lawyer ownership of law firms

Source: OTHERWISE: Arizona Supreme Court opens door to non-lawyer ownership of law firms 

The Arizona Supreme Court – effective January 1 – has authorized non-lawyer ownership of law firms and other “Alternative Business Structures” including licensed paraprofessionals who can complete forms and represent clients.

The ABA Journal reports that Arizona Vice Chief Justice played a key role with David Byers of the state Administrative Office of the Courts in examining how legal services are delivered.  The task force of the Arizona Supreme Court reported in October 2019:  It recommended that the Court

Eliminate Arizona’s ERs 5.4 and 5.7 and amend ERs 1.0 through 5.3 to remove the explicit barrier to lawyers and nonlawyers co-owning businesses that engage in the practice of law while preserving the dual goals of ensuring the professional independence of lawyers and protecting the public.

Editorial: Limit mandatory arbitration in retainer agreements – NJ Law Journal

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled that a lawyer may provide for mandatory arbitration  even of malpractice claims – in its retainer agreement.  But it must explain to its client the advantages and disadvantages of the choice.  The court referred the issue to is Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics – on which I serve, as I do on the amicus committee of the State Bar, and the Editorial Board of the New Jersey Law Journal half of whose members recused because they are involved one way or another in the issue which is a truly hot button issue in the New Jersey Bar.

The Law Journal Editorial Board calls for independent representation of clients in such matters.  The ACPE has solicited comments from the Bar.  It may be a bumpy ride. Published Opinions of the ACPE are binding – but subject to discretionary review by the Court itself.

  • GWC

Source: Torts Today: Editorial: Limit mandatory arbitration in retainer agreements – NJ Law Journal

 

“We believe that requiring a prospective client, not independently represented, to give up the right to choose the forum of dispute resolution at the outset of a relationship is detrimental to the client’s interest and should be banned. If, and when, a dispute arises between lawyer and client, the respective parties may agree that it is in their individual interest that the dispute be arbitrated rather than fought in court. Presumably, at that time, the client will have secured new counsel who can, independently, advise the client of the wisdom of resolving the dispute in one forum or another.

We cannot conceive of a lawyer independently consulted by a client about the wisdom of signing a mandatory arbitration clause advising that client to forfeit the choice of forum for dispute resolution at the outset of a representation. Some courts require a client to get independent advice before agreeing to mandatory arbitration in a retainer agreement. Others ban it outright. The ABA allows such a provision provided “the advantages and disadvantages are discussed.”

Lawyers – en masse – call for Giuliani to be disciplined, suspended

New York Supreme Court Appellate Division First Department It began with the New York State Bar Association announcing an inquiry into wh…

Source: OTHERWISE: Lawyers – en masse – call for Giuliani to be disciplined, suspended

 

It began with the New York State Bar Association announcing an inquiry into whether it should expel the former United States Attorney, Mayor of New York, and personal counsel to a President Rudy Giuliani.  The Trump confidant had fallen into disrepute as he played a role in the sixty failed lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign to somehow undermine the results of an election which the sitting lost by over seven million votes.  The movement gained momentum and gravity after the former prosecutor at the now notorious January 6 White House rally warmed up the soon to be riotous mob by declaring ““Let’s have trial by combat.””

Donald Trump’s narrow margins in a handful of states presented a theoretical path to snatch an electoral college victory from a popular vote defeat. Giuliani was coordinator of unsuccessful electoral challenges in a dozen states, according to Democracy Docket which itself coordinated Democratic Party defenses.  Things quickly went badly for Giuliani;s efforts as even conservative judges spurned the efforts to discount votes.  In a key state – Pennsylvania District Judge Matthew Brann, a former GOP official, repudiated the action saying

…this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more.

Brann was quickly affirmed by a conservative panel of the Third Circuit which wrote  Voters, not lawyers, choose the President. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections.” 

Criticism mounted but it was the January 6 rally which pushed things off a cliff.  Two carefully crafted and detailed letters to New York disciplinary authorities in the First Department of the Appellate Division of New York Supreme Court have demanded action against Giuliani.  The first was filed by former Massachusetts Attorney General and Common Cause President Scott Harshberger on behalf of Lawyers Defending American Democracy, Inc.  The LDAD complaint, co-signed by dozens of prominent lawyers, former prosecutors and judges has now garnered over 4,000 signatures.  Citing factually and legally groundless litigation to invalidate millions of votes Harshberger et al. call for Giuliani to be suspended while the “Committee… investigates”.

Another complaint, filed the next day by Ronald C. Minkoff, of New York, and co-signed by dozens of prominent lawyers and academics, is brought on behalf of Michael Miller, a past President of both the New York State Bar Association and the New York County Lawyers Association.  The carefully drafted and comprehensive complaint centers on the Pennsylvania action and the January 6 “attempted insurrection”. It calls for unspecified discipline against Giuliani, a New York attorney for KEEP READING:

OTHERWISE: Lawyers – en masse – call for Giuliani to be disciplined, suspended

 

OTHERWISE: Amicus Cases – NJ State Bar Association – 2015 – 2020

 

Source: OTHERWISE: Amicus Cases – NJ State Bar Association – 2015 – 2020

The New Jersey State Bar Association – the largest private organization of lawyers in the State – frequently appears (often by invitation) before the New Jersey Supreme Court on issues of particular concern to the Court, the Bar, and the public.  I am proud to be a member of the amicus committee and to have briefed and argued for the NJSBA in two cases (Kernahan and Chaparro Nieves) in the past couple years before the State Supreme Court.  
This body of work illustrates a bar association which takes to heart its role as both advocate for the interests of lawyers, and for defending the principle of access to justice. – GWC

California: Duty to Prospective client – Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 17-0003

The California State Bar has solicited comment on its proposed Formal Opinion No. 17-0003 regarding duties of confidentiality to and avoidance of conflicts of interest to prospective clients.  The deadline for comment is March 22, 2021. – gwc

Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 17-0003 [Duty to Prospective Client]

ISSUES: 
1. When a prospective client has provided confidential information to an interviewing lawyer, may the interviewing lawyer disclose that information or use it to the prospective client’s disadvantage? 
2. When the interviewing lawyer has received material confidential information from a prospective client, under what conditions is ethical screening available so that other lawyers in the lawyer’s law firm may represent other clients who are adverse to the prospective client in the same or substantially related matters? 
3. To what extent can a prospective client give advanced informed written consent to permit other lawyers in an interviewing lawyer’s law firm to be adverse to a former prospective client in the same or substantially related matter in circumstances where the interviewing lawyer is screened from the representation but the precondition for screening in rule 1.18(d) has not been met because the interviewing lawyer did not take the “reasonable measures” required by that rule?

Deborah Rhode, Who Transformed the Field of Legal Ethics, Dies at 68 – The New York Times

Any discussion of Deborah Rhode’s work and impact inevitably is a flood of superlatives. We are fortunate that Clay Risen of the New York Times took the time to tell the story of a woman who was a powerful debater, teacher, writer, and thinker.  A high school classmate of Merrick Garland, the Biden-Harris administration will unfortunately be unable to turn to her for the passion and powerful intellect and integrity she brought to her work in legal ethics.   The field was little heeded until the Watergate debacle put prominent lawyers like White House counsel John Dean in the dock, and Attorney General John Mitchell in jail.

Deborah Rhode, perhaps more than any other legal scholar changed that. – GWC

Source: OTHERWISE: Deborah Rhode, Who Transformed the Field of Legal Ethics, Dies at 68 – The New York Times

By Clay Risen

Deborah L. Rhode, a law professor who transformed the field of legal ethics from little more than a crib sheet for passing the bar exam into an empirically rich, morally rigorous investigation into how lawyers should serve the public, died on Jan. 8 at her home in Stanford, Calif. She was 68.
Her husband, Ralph Cavanagh, confirmed her death but said that the cause had not yet been determined.
With 30 books and some 200 law review articles to her name, Professor Rhode, who spent over four decades teaching at Stanford, was by far the most-cited scholar in legal ethics, with a work ethic that astounded even her hard-charging colleagues.
“She was done with all her chapters before I started mine,” said David J. Luban, a law professor at Georgetown and one of her co-authors on “Legal Ethics,” a casebook now in its eighth edition.

Lawyers’ response to online comments sharply limited: ABA Formal Opinion 496

Source: OTHERWISE: Lawyers’ response to online comments sharply limited: ABA Formal Opinion 496

Lawyers’ ability to respond to online criticism is sharply limited by both confidentiality and prudential concerns according to the ABA’s newly issued Formal Opinion.  The opinion largely tracks the opinions of bar associations, and official ethics committees.
One of the closer questions is what constitutes a controversy between attorney and client, relieves the lawyer of certain strictures of confidentiality under RPC 1.6.  The ABA Committee opines:
even if an online posting rose to the level of a controversy between lawyer and client, a public response is not reasonably necessary or contemplated by Rule 1.6(b) in order for the lawyer to establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between the lawyer and the client. Comment [16] to Rule 1.6 supports this reading explaining, “Paragraph (b) permits disclosure only to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes the disclosure is necessary to accomplish one of the purposes stated.”
It is, however, a noteworthy suggestion that

A lawyer may request that the host of the website or search engine remove the post. This may be particularly effective if the post was made by someone other than a client. If the post was made by someone pretending to be a client, but who is not, the lawyer may inform the host of the website or search engine of that fact. In making a request to remove the post, unless the client consents to disclosure, the lawyer may not disclose any information that relates to a client’s representation or that could reasonably lead to the discovery of confidential information by another, but may state that the post is not accurate or that the lawyer has not represented the poster if that is the case.

= GWC

 New York State Bar Association Launches Historic Inquiry Into Removing Trump Attorney Rudy Giuliani From Its Membership – New York State Bar Association

Source: OTHERWISE: New York State Bar Association Launches Historic Inquiry Into Removing Trump Attorney Rudy Giuliani From Its Membership – New York State Bar Association

By Susan DeSantis

24/09/2019 Rudolph Giuliani, Ex-Prefeito de Nova York

The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) strongly condemned the violent uprising that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, orchestrated by individuals bent on subverting the will of the voters by disrupting the certification of the 2020 presidential election results.

Thankfully, Congress overcame this assault and fulfilled its constitutional responsibility in certifying the Biden-Harris victory. However, we must address the root cause of this abhorrent incident, the blame for which lies first and foremost with President Donald Trump.

But the president did not act alone. Hours before the angry mob stormed the Capitol walls, Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, addressed a crowd of thousands at the White House, reiterating baseless claims of widespread election fraud in the presidential election and the Georgia U.S. Senate runoffs.

“If we’re wrong, we will be made fools of, but if we’re right a lot of them will go to jail,” Mr. Giuliani said. “Let’s have trial by combat.”

 Investigate and Prosecute | New Jersey Law Journal

 The New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board today calls for impeachment of Donald Trump and for incoming A.G. Merrick Garland to “relentlessly investigate and prosecute” those responsible for the near catastrophe at the Capitol on January 6.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Board

Source: OTHERWISE: Investigate and Prosecute | New Jersey Law Journal