Professional Responsibility Syllabus - 2015

Professional Responsibility Syllabus  (Preliminary*)
Spring 2015                updated January 29, 2015

George W. Conk, Adjunct Professor & Senior Fellow, Stein Center for Law & Ethics, Fordham Law School  

Office: Room 8-122 
Phone: 212-636-7446
Cell: 201-264-1177

Mondays and Wednesdays 12:30 - 1:50, Room 3-01

Required materials:
Casebook: Professional Responsibility,  A Contemporary Approach
Pearce, Capra, Green 
(West – Second Edition)
Interactive casebook: (purchasers of hard copy also receive access to the interactive version)

Supplement: Rules, Standards, Statutes, and Codes: The Law Governing Lawyers, (LGL) Martyn, Fox, Wendel (Wolters Kluwer 2014-205 Edition)


(syllabus, links to resources, etc.)


Four or more students will be assigned to be "on call" for classroom discussions.
Attendance is required.  If you cannot attend class you must send me an email explaining the reason prior to class.
Classroom participation: particularly helpful participation in classroom discussions may support an increase of 1/3 grade (e.g. B+>A-)
Final exam:in-class multiple choice type exam

Writing requirement
If you use the class to satisfy the writing requirement you need not take the final exam - but classroom participation will still be considered in your grade.  

Term paper: if you have elected to write a term paper the topic must be submitted to me for approval.  You need not take the final exam - but classroom participation will still be considered in your grade.

Upperclass writing requirement: 
Notice of intent must be filed with Registrar within two weeks of start of semester (January 26) Topic must be approved by me in advance of filing.

March 2, 5:00 PM - outlines due
March 23, 5:00 PM - rough drafts due
April 24, 5:00 PM - final papers due

Term papers

Term paper topic proposals due:  March 2, 5:00 PM
Outline  or abstract due: March 23, 5:00 PM
Final paper due: April 24

Principal reading will be from the casebook, supplemented by the relevant Rules and Comments in the Supplement.  Page assignments have not yet been selected.
The basic approach should be to read the excerpted cases in the casebook, then read the sample questions.  Much of our discussion will center on the sample MPRE questions in the casebook.

I will make additional assignments of cases and articles beyond the casebook .  As you can see below there are hyperlinks to those materials.

Discussion leaders - when assigned - are "on call".  You should be prepared to discuss each of the multiple choice questions in the case book, and any additional questions I may add to the syllabus or otherwise.


Unit 1 Introduction
Week 1, class 1
Discussion slides - Chapter 1 Introducing Professional Responsibility and Legal Ethics Read:
Chapter 1 - pages 1-25

Course overview: What inspires and guides legal ethics? Role of  the RPC's; the business vs. profession debate; personal morality and ideology.

Read: black letter rules of ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct

Read: Antonin Scalia at Duquesne Law School Centennial 2011
`My Catholicism is irrelevant to my  understanding of the law's requirements. '
“If I thought that the Catholic doctrine held the death penalty to be immoral, I would resign.” Should Antonin Scalia resign?  

Unit 2 Basics
Class 1
Discussion slides - Basic elements of Law Practice- part 1
-Defining the practice of law – unauthorized practice, creating the lawyer-client relationship.

Read: Chapter 2, pages 27 - 77
NOLO  Legalzoom
Key cases: Florida Bar v. Brumbaugh, Birbrower v. Montalbano et al., [Cal. Civil Code 1282.4]; Morris v. Margulis & Grant; Tennessee Ethics Opinion; Nathanson v.MCAD

Do state restrictions on out of state lawyers improperly regulate interstate commerce and the client's right to the counsel it chooses?
How should the trial judge decide the Tennessee case?
Is the judge obligated to enforce the legal right to abortion if, like Justice Scalia, he adheres to Catholic doctrine which forbids abortion and provides for automatic excommunication of one who aids or abets an abortion ?  

Class 2
Chapter 2- Basic elements of Law Practice 
Discussion slides - part 2
–  Creating and terminating the attorney-client relationship
The Duties of Competence, Communication, Allocating Decision-making, Civil Liability
Read casebook: 82 - 121
Termination: Restatement LGL 31; MRPC 1.16
Competence: MRPC 1.1, 1.3
Malpractice: Restatement LGL 48, 51, 52; MRPC 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.8
NJ Model Civil Jury Charge: Attorney Negligence 5.51A, 5.51B
Application- Lawyers Professional Liability
Specimen policy of insurance

Week 3
Competence in criminal defense and removal of aliens (Ch.2)
discussion slides
Gideon's Army - (video - NY Times) Public Defenders struggle to answer the call
Casebook pages: 122-130
Search "public defenders" on Otherwise - read posts
Effective assistance of counsel (Justia)
6th Amendment - Constitution of the United States of America
McMann v. Richardson 397 U.S. 759 (U.S. 1970) 
Padilla v. Kentucky (2010) - collateral consequences
Jed Rakoff - Why Innocent People Plead Guilty (NY Review)

Allocating Decision-Making Between Lawyers and Client

Casebook p. 142-183

Week 4
-             Finding clients (advertising, solicitation)

 Week 5
-             Confidentiality and Attorney client privilege

Confidentiality under R. 1.6 and the Duty of Corporate Counsel Under Sarbanes Oxley
Final Rule - SEC - 17 CFR 205.1 et seq. Implementation of Standards of Professional Conduct for Attorneys Securities and Exchange Commission

Week 6
Concurrent conflicts (when our clients are in conflict)
Volunteer Lawyers for Justice - NJ Supreme Court (2014)

Week 7
Lawyer-client conflicts of interest 

IIs BP Deepwater Horizon claims administrator Juneau conflicted?
Memorandum in support of motion to remove Juneau

Week 8 Legal malpractice
Lawyers' duties to clients and to third parties

Week 9
Prosecutors ethics

Stepping over the line: power point justice (read State v. Walker and State v. Herbin- linked therein)
Bruce Green – Lawyering at the edge 

Wrongful convictions

Week 10 – 11 
Attorneys fees
The reasonable fee; regulated fees
Contingent fees
Fee shifting (civil rights, intellectual property)
Judicial control of fees in class action and mass tort cases

Week 11
An independent judiciary? How should we select judges? (Election or appointment)
Judicial ethics – Code of Conduct of U.S. Judges
Ouster of Iowa Justices Sends Message - (NY Times, November 3, 200)
Does the 1st Amendment protect judges' fund-raising appeals? Yulee v. Florida Bar (cert. granted)

Should a judge recuse when a litigant has financially supported his election?  Capertonv. A.T. Massey (2008)

Changing the court: Christie ads. Supreme Court of New Jersey (Torts Today)

Week 12
Lawyers in the public interest (guest speakers - Public Defenders, Prosecutors, Court Attorneys)

Week 13
Mass torts and the problem of consent to settlement
Erichson & Zipursky: Consent v. Closure, 96 Cornell L. Rev. 265 (2011)

Exam: 48 hour take-home (download/upload)
Essay type questions