Business Law: Lawyering and Ethics
NOTE: There are 5 choices to fulfill the Ethics requirement and no student may take more than one Ethics class from among LAW-132, LAW-150 and LAW-151 (must take both), LAW-152, LAW-153, and LAW-154 without prior approval of John Parry or Libby Davis.
The title and content of the course should be considered in light of the title of our primary casebook: “Lawyering and Ethics for the Business Attorney,” by Marc I. Steinberg. In addition to meeting the ABA requirement that law students take a course on legal ethics, we propose to address the question of whether and how good ethics and a prosperous business law practice can work hand-in-hand. Consistent with the Steinberg text, we hope that students will learn and develop good “lawyering” skills and approaches in order to serve clients, through a deep understanding and implementation of ethical rules. In this regard, we will consider whether effective and efficient adherence to such rules can result in both clients and their lawyers perceiving that net economic benefit is thereby conferred.
The course will cover the essential statutes, rules, case law and other guidance necessary for an understanding of the legal obligations, ethical expectations, and professionalism standards of an attorney engaged primarily in a business-focused practice.
As a general rule, we will seek to enlist the assistance of one student each week to help co-teach the material. Guest lecturers will also be invited. Where possible, we will teach from our experience as long-time legal practitioners about what actually works as distinct from what may look good in theory but is not likely to work. We will also endeavor to go beyond “doctrinal” issues of rule interpretation. We will facilitate the students assessing, on a holistic basis and in terms of real-world human encounters, the problems that lawyers must confront not only with their own clients but also with adverse counsel and their clients. In this process, we will, from time to time, “step back” for a few moments, and focus on language and human communication in an effort to more fully understand particular scenarios set forth in the Steinberg text.
We will also utilize, as much as possible, given the limited techie skills of the professors, snippets from popular culture, past and present, in an endeavor to make the class memorable and hopefully enjoyable.
Of course, the course (repetition intentional!) will seek to prepare students for the ethics component of state bar exams.
Grading is based on class participation and on one final essay exam.