Course Information

Course Number

611A

Credits

0.5

Area of Study & Practice

  • Ethics and Professional Responsibility

Readings in Ethics

This discussion course centers around readings that, implicitly or explicitly, draw connections between the practice of law, the experience of being a lawyer, the substance of the law, and ethics (including not only professional responsibility but issues of moral commitment and action more generally). Each section of the course is expected to have a different specific focus, and different readings, but will center on the general topics of professionalism and ethics. This is a year-long course. Instructor: Law Faculty


Please note that course organization and content may vary substantially from semester to semester and descriptions are not necessarily professor specific. Please contact the instructor directly if you have particular course-related questions.

Sections/Instructors

Major General Charles J. Dunlap, Jr. USAF (Ret.)
Readings in Ethics 611A.01
Fall 2013
E-mail ListSakai Site
Ethical Issues in National Security

This course is a one-credit, pass-fail seminar that will meet at least six times over the course of the 2013-2014 academic year. The course is will introduce some of the issues confronting young lawyers as they try to navigate today's national security environment either as an attorney practicing in government, as a member of a law firm, or as a counsel for a corporation or non-governmental organization. We will consider, for example, how the existing rules of professional conduct may apply in the national security law setting, as well as examine specific cases of problematic behavior by lawyers. We will also address the practical issues of dealing with clients in very high-stress situations, as well as the ‘work-life’ balance in this area of practice. Readings will include various case studies, law journal articles, and other relevant material. A film will also be part of the curriculum. The instructor may augment his own experience with guest discussants. The four fall meetings will be on Sundays from 3:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. The dates (tentatively) are Sept 15th, Sept 29th, Oct 27th, and Nov 10th.

David F. Levi, James E. Coleman, Jr.
Readings in Ethics 611A.07
Fall 2012
E-mail ListSakai Site

Marin K. Levy
Readings in Ethics 611A.06
Fall 2012
E-mail List

Thomas B. Metzloff
Readings in Ethics 611A.04
Fall 2012
E-mail List

Major General Charles J. Dunlap, Jr. USAF (Ret.)
Readings in Ethics 611A.03
Fall 2012
E-mail List
Ethical Issues in National Security

Jeff Ward
Readings in Ethics 611A.01
Fall 2012
E-mail List

Jeff Ward
Readings in Ethics 611A.41
Fall 2011
Empathy & the Law

Major General Charles J. Dunlap, Jr. USAF (Ret.)
Readings in Ethics 611A.40
Fall 2011
Ethical Issues in National Security

Ernest A. Young
Readings in Ethics 611A.07
Fall 2011
The Large Law Firm

Marin K. Levy
Readings in Ethics 611A.06
Fall 2011
Ethics of Being A Young Professional

Neil S. Siegel
Readings in Ethics 611A.04
Fall 2011
E-mail List
Legal Ethics in Film

Thomas B. Metzloff
Readings in Ethics 611A.03
Fall 2011
Lawyers & Litigation

Myles V. Lynk
Readings in Ethics 611A.08
Fall 2010
Ethical Choices, Personal Honor & Social Order in Homer's Iliad

Ernest A. Young
Readings in Ethics 611A.07
Fall 2010
E-mail List
Readings in Ethics: The Large Law Firm
This course is a one-hour, pass-fail seminar that will meet seven times over the course of the 2010-2011 academic year. We will meet in the evenings either at my home or in some other informal (and well-provisioned) setting. The course is will introduce some of the issues confronting young lawyers as they try to navigate today's large law firms. We will consider, for example, the economics of large law firms and how different aspects of the firm's economic structure impact the lives of young lawyers; the changing nature of law firm billing; the tension between law-as-professional-calling and law-as-business; trade-offs between work and family life; and how to find good mentors in a large law firm setting. Readings will include works such as Anthony Kronman's "The Lost Lawyer." The instructor will augment his own limited experience by imposing on his own friends and mentors to visit and speak about their firms and practices.

Marin K. Levy
Readings in Ethics 611A.06
Fall 2010
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Ethics of Being a Young Professional
This ethics seminar will focus on the kinds of dilemmas one faces at the beginning of one’s legal career – as an associate, as a law clerk, or as someone starting out in government or public service. The course will cover such questions as: What do you do when you are assigned to defend a client whom you believe to be guilty? How should you handle a situation in which the more senior associates / partners for whom you work are adopting strategies that you do not feel comfortable with and do not believe are in the best interests of your client? As a law clerk, what do you do when your judge asks you to draft an opinion that you think is wrong and may harm the law? How would you advise your judge in a situation in which you think the law clearly dictates a particular outcome in a case, but you think that outcome is unjust? "In short, how do you handle situations in which you are being asked as a young professional to do things that you would otherwise not want to do and perhaps even find unethical?" The course will be structured around a different hypothetical or case study in each meeting, and will draw on various philosophical schools of thought (including the age-old debate of Consequentialism versus Deontology) as well as legal schools of thought (particularly Legal Realism).

David F. Levi, James E. Coleman, Jr.
Readings in Ethics 611A.05
Fall 2010
E-mail List
Ethics in Adversary Systems
This seminar will look at adversary systems in which cheating may reap large benefits or at least seem easier than adhering to what may seem like artificial ethical rules. The American legal system is such an adversary system, and we will spend much of our time considering circumstances in which we expect lawyers to forego the interests of their clients on behalf of some greater good. There are other areas of life that are also adversary systems subject to their own rules of conduct: professional sports, partisan politics, warfare, and business competition to name a few. We will look at some of these other systems with their own rules of engagement and their own temptations for violation and abuse. Ultimately we will be asking the question of how it is that one maintains a sense of perspective and restraint in the heat of battle. We begin with the now infamous lacrosse case and a consideration of prosecutorial ethics. We will look at the Arthur Anderson case and some of the new duties imposed on lawyers to expose wrongdoing by corporate clients. We may look at doping violations in baseball, Watergate and the excesses of partisan politics, and limits on interrogation in the War on Terror.

Neil S. Siegel
Readings in Ethics 611A.04
Fall 2010
E-mail ListBlackboard Site
Legal Ethics on Film
In this year-long course, we will meet at my home to view and discuss six movies implicating timeless questions in legal ethics. These issues will include, but will not be limited to, the duties that lawyers owe their clients, the roles and responsibilities of the lawyer in the community, whether and when the ends ever justify illegal means, and the relationship between law and morality. Films may include Judgment at Nuremberg, Michael Clayton, Mississippi Burning, My Cousin Vinnie, Philadelphia, To Kill a Mockingbird, Twelve Angry Men, and The Verdict.

Thomas B. Metzloff
Readings in Ethics 611A.03
Fall 2010
E-mail List
Lawyers and Litigation: Ethical Perspectives from Film and Literature
This course will consider the ethical roles and responsibilities primarily of plaintiff’s lawyers engaged in complex civil litigation. How do attorneys work to help individuals -- as well as communities -- cope with injury and disaster? Do they serve help reconstruct lives and communities? What responsibilities do they have in representing unpopular or disabled clients? Do the lawyers’ own interests in fame and fortune properly serve their clients’ needs in times of despair? Materials will include depictions of both actual cases as well as fictional accounts. The films or books to be studied will include The Sweet Hereafter, Civil Action, Class Action, Philadelphia, Rainmaker, and Erin Brockovich (and possibly others).

Lawrence G. Baxter
Readings in Ethics 611A.02
Fall 2010
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Ethics in the Amoral Bazaar: Can We Require Standards Beyond the Law in Financial Services?
The Financial Crisis has brought to public awareness many long-standing questions about whether the practices and conduct of members of the financial industry are acceptable, even if they might be lawful. This course will examine the ethics of the market and the standards we might reasonably expect from market participants and their lawyers. High profile incidents ranging from the Savings & Loan Crisis of the 1980s to the role of banks in the Enron Scandal, to the civil action brought recently by the SEC against Goldman Sachs will be discussed. We will meet at my home in the evenings about six to eight times through the year and will read books, articles and reports, and watch a few of movies. Students are required to read all assigned material on schedule and come to every meeting prepared to engage fully in the discussion.

Guy-Uriel Charles
Readings in Ethics 611A.06
Fall 2009
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The Ethics of Politics and Politicians
This course will consider ethical issues in politics. Are politicians bound by ethical considerations: in drafting and passing legislation, representing their constituencies, their dealings with one another, their dealings with non-political institutions and the like. We will meet at my house and will examine relevant information on the topic including books, films, and articles. We might also examine real live politicians.

Kimberly D. Krawiec
Readings in Ethics 611A.05
Fall 2009
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Ethics & the Financial Crisis
This course considers the ethical issues implicated by financial crisis, including the current financial crisis. The following topics are illustrative of course coverage: risk-taking leading up to the crisis, financial innovation, government bailout, and compensation issues. The class meets seven times during the year, once each in September, October, November, January, February, March, and April. Class meetings are on Tuesday evenings (the exact dates to be decided) from 6:30-8:30, at various locations. At least one class meeting will be at my home. Course materials will include non-fiction, but popular, books about financial crisis. Students are required to prepare for, attend, and participate in all class meetings, and specifically to lead one class meeting during the year.
The first class will meet on September 29. Our first reading will be a classic in this genre: Michael Lewiss Liars Poker (available new or used from most bookstores). At our first meeting, well discuss future meeting dates and readings.

Doriane Lambelet Coleman, James E. Coleman, Jr.
Readings in Ethics 611A.04
Fall 2009
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Law, Ethics & Innovations in Science and Medicine
This course considers the ethical issues, including the legal ethics, implicated by innovations in science and medicine. The following topics are illustrative of course coverage: the use of neurobiological technologies to detect crime before it happens; the use of genetic and genomic information in both forensic and predictive contexts relevant to the criminal process; the use of genetic engineering technology to manipulate human characteristics; brain doping; advances in organ transplantation; and the exportation of human subjects research to increase population diversity, to reduce costs, and to avoid associated regulatory requirements. The class meets seven times during the year, once each in September, October, November, January, February, March, and April. Class meetings are on Monday evenings from 6:30-8:30 at our home. Course materials typically include novels, substantial works of non-fiction, movies, and collected writing from the legal, scientific, and medical literatures. Students are required to prepare for, attend, and participate in all class meetings, and specifically to lead one class meeting during the year.

Lisa Kern Griffin
Readings in Ethics 611A.03
Fall 2009
E-mail ListBlackboard Site
Prosecutorial Ethics
Prosecutorial Ethics
This year-long course will consider prosecutorial ethics, with a focus on federal prosecutors and white collar cases. We will first discuss the role of prosecutors, the formal and informal ethical rules that govern them, and prosecutorial independence. We will then consider the use of informants in investigations, prosecutorial discretion to indict, discovery issues, cooperating witnesses, and the conduct of trial. We will meet over dinner at my home to reflect on depictions of prosecutors in film and media, as well as decisions by prosecutors in recent cases.

Neil S. Siegel
Readings in Ethics 611A.02
Fall 2009
E-mail List
Legal Ethics on Film
In this year-long course, we will meet at my home to view and discuss six movies implicating timeless questions in legal ethics. These issues will include, but will not be limited to, the duties that lawyers owe their clients, the roles and responsibilities of the lawyer in the community, whether and when the ends ever justify illegal means, and the relationship between law and morality. Films may include Judgment at Nuremberg, Michael Clayton, Mississippi Burning, My Cousin Vinnie, Philadelphia, To Kill a Mockingbird, Twelve Angry Men, and The Verdict.

James E. Coleman, Jr., David F. Levi
Readings in Ethics 611A.01
Fall 2009
E-mail ListBlackboard Site
Ethics in the Adversary System
This seminar will look at adversary systems in which cheating may reap large benefits or at least seem easier than adhering to what may seem like artificial ethical rules. The American legal system is such an adversary system, and we will spend much of our time considering circumstances in which we expect lawyers to forego the interests of their clients on behalf of some greater good. There are other areas of life that are also adversary systems subject to their own rules of conduct: professional sports, partisan politics, warfare, and business competition to name a few. We will look at some of these other systems with their own rules of engagement and their own temptations for violation and abuse. Ultimately we will be asking the question of how it is that one maintains a sense of perspective and restraint in the heat of battle. We begin with the now infamous lacrosse case and a consideration of prosecutorial ethics. We will look at the Arthur Anderson case and some of the new duties imposed on lawyers to expose wrongdoing by corporate clients. We may look at doping violations in baseball, Watergate and the excesses of partisan politics, and limits on interrogation in the War on Terror.

James E. Coleman, Jr., David F. Levi
Readings in Ethics 611A.06
Fall 2008
E-mail ListBlackboard Site

Kathryn Webb Bradley
Readings in Ethics 611A.05
Fall 2008
E-mail ListBlackboard Site

Doriane Lambelet Coleman, James E. Coleman, Jr.
Readings in Ethics 611A.04
Fall 2008
E-mail ListBlackboard Site

Curtis A. Bradley
Readings in Ethics 611A.03
Fall 2008
E-mail ListBlackboard Site
Law, Policy & Ethics in the War on Terrorism

Neil S. Siegel
Readings in Ethics 611A.02
Fall 2008
E-mail List
Matters of Life & Death

Karla F. Holloway
Readings in Ethics 611A.01
Fall 2008
E-mail ListBlackboard Site
Law, Ethics & Identity

Jedediah Purdy
Readings in Ethics 611A.07
Fall 2007
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The American Environment: Ethics and Crisis

Several times in the past, Americans have reconsidered their relationship to the natural world. These changes have had legal results, such as creation of the national parks system at the turn of the last century and passage of major environmental statutes in the 1970s. They have been spurred in part by crises, actual and perceived: for instance, the "closing of the frontier" at the end of the nineteenth century and the twentieth-century fear that the industrial world was poisoning itself. They have involved practical judgments about resource management, but also questions about what kind of civilization the United States is, what kinds of lives Americans will live, and what role the natural world has in American identity. In this course, we will examine some of the key moments in this history in order to create some context for our own major environmental problems, most notably climate change. We will try to understand the present better by approaching it from several starting points in the past. Readings are likely to include Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, Teddy Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, Jared Diamond, and others. The course will conclude with sessions on current problems.

James E. Coleman, Jr., David F. Levi
Readings in Ethics 611A.06
Fall 2007
E-mail ListBlackboard Site

Ethics in Adversary Systems

This seminar will look at adversary systems in which cheating may reap large benefits or at least seem easier than adhering to what may seem like artificial ethical rules. The American legal system is such an adversary system, and we will spend much of our time considering circumstances in which we expect lawyers to forego the interests of their clients on behalf of some greater good. There are other areas of life that are also adversary systems subject to their own rules of conduct: professional sports, partisan politics, warfare, and business competition to name a few. We will look at some of these other systems with their own rules of engagement and their own temptations for violation and abuse. Ultimately we will be asking the question of how it is that one maintains a sense of perspective and restraint in the heat of battle. We begin with the now infamous lacrosse case and a consideration of prosecutorial ethics. We will look at the Arthur Anderson case and some of the new duties imposed on lawyers to expose wrongdoing by corporate clients. We may look at doping violations in baseball, Watergate and the excesses of partisan politics, and limits on interrogation in the War on Terror.

Neil S. Siegel
Readings in Ethics 611A.05
Fall 2007
E-mail ListBlackboard Site

Matters of Life and Death

This seminar will critically analyze a number of ethical problems involving matters of life and death. Topics will include the uses of moral reasoning, problems involved in sacrificing the innocent, abortion, assisted suicide, capital punishment, interrogational torture, and a subject of the students’ choosing. The readings will focus on the ethical dilemmas posed by these problems, not on legal doctrine, although the latter will of course be part of our discussions to the extent there is interest in tracing out legal implications.

H. Jefferson Powell
Readings in Ethics 611A.04
Fall 2007
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Is Law without Values?

In his 1897 “The Path of the Law,” perhaps the best known law review article of all time, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., propounded his “bad man” approach to understanding American law. One best comprehends the law, Holmes argued, when one seeks to comprehend it as a lawless and immoral person would, asking only what conduct would evoke a negative response from the state. Over a century later, Holmes and his approach are widely seen as a deliberate attempt to drain the law of moral meaning. For some, that interpretation is a cause of lament (Professor Albert Alschuler, Law without Values), and for others it suggests a celebration (Judge Richard Posner, The Probematics of Moral and Legal Theory). In this seminar, we will reconsider both what Holmes meant and what we should think about his understanding of the law.

Paul H. Haagen
Readings in Ethics 611A.03
Fall 2007
E-mail List

Ethics and the Restraint of Athletic Competition

Competition is at the center of most human activity. It has proven a valuable and efficient way of creating and allocating scarce resources. It operates effectively, however, only when confined within certain parameters that define the limits of the competition. This seminar will concentrate on the ethical limitations imposed on competition in what is an important, if highly artificial, part of human endeavor, athletic competition. Readings and discussion will focus on who is allowed to compete and on what terms, and who gets to decide. They will also consider the interrelationship among broader background laws and social policies, sport specific regulations, and more informal understandings about what “is done.” Specifically, the seminar will consider eligibility, application of general rules to persons with disabilities, doping, “spirit of sport,” and informal enforcement of social norms.

Mitu Gulati
Readings in Ethics 611A.02
Fall 2007
E-mail List

Ethics, International Finance, and Dictatorial Regimes

This seminar will look at the question of how laws, particularly those that govern international transactions, can be structured to restrain the misbehavior of rogue regimes. We will discuss books, articles, and movies that attempt to capture two specific problems in international commerce – the problems of the “Resource Curse” and “Odious Debts.” Among other matters, we will look at the question of the responsibilities of the U.S. lawyers who, for example, helped repressive regimes such as that in apartheid era South Africa raise capital to purchase military equipment. Questions that come up include: Who did these lawyers see as their clients? If their real clients were the people of South Africa, were they violating their duties to their clients in assisting in these transactions?

Kathryn Webb Bradley
Readings in Ethics 611A.01
Fall 2007
E-mail List

Perceptions of the Legal Profession, Past and Present

It is no secret that many people today take a very dim view of the legal profession and its members. Contemporary media and literary accounts commonly depict lawyers as unprincipled, greedy, and self-serving, focused more on finding technical loopholes and advocating dubious legal positions than on serving the public interest. Is this criticism of the legal profession something new, or is it merely the latest chapter in a long history of lawyer bashing? This seminar will look at lawyers through the ages, focusing on their evolving professional, ethical, and public obligations, and the public perception of the extent to which lawyers individually and as a class have succeeded in fulfilling those duties. Readings will be drawn from a variety of historical and fictional accounts of lawyers, ranging from ancient Greek comedy to contemporary fiction. Film and television depictions of lawyers may also be used. This seminar will meet approximately every other Wednesday during the lunch hour.

Lee C. Buchheit, Mitu Gulati
Readings in Ethics 611A.05
Fall 2006

Neil Vidmar
Readings in Ethics 611A.03
Fall 2006

Kathryn Webb Bradley
Readings in Ethics 611A.02
Fall 2006

Theresa Newman, James E. Coleman, Jr.
Readings in Ethics 611A.01
Fall 2006

Mitu Gulati
Readings in Ethics 611A.07
Fall 2005

Kathryn Webb Bradley
Readings in Ethics 611A.06
Fall 2005

George C. Christie
Readings in Ethics 611A.05
Fall 2005

Sarah H. Ludington, Christopher H. Schroeder
Readings in Ethics 611A.04
Fall 2005

Jedediah Purdy
Readings in Ethics 611A.02
Fall 2005

Catherine Fisk
Readings in Ethics 611A.01
Fall 2005
Download: Course Information

George C. Christie
Readings in Ethics 611A.05
Spring 2005

Christopher H. Schroeder
Readings in Ethics 611A.04
Spring 2005

Jedediah Purdy, H. Jefferson Powell
Readings in Ethics 611A.03
Spring 2005

James E. Coleman, Jr.
Readings in Ethics 611A.02
Spring 2005

Karla F. Holloway, Katharine T. Bartlett
Readings in Ethics 611A.01
Spring 2005

George C. Christie
Readings in Ethics 611A.05
Fall 2004

Christopher H. Schroeder
Readings in Ethics 611A.04
Fall 2004

H. Jefferson Powell, Jedediah Purdy
Readings in Ethics 611A.03
Fall 2004

James E. Coleman, Jr.
Readings in Ethics 611A.02
Fall 2004

Karla F. Holloway, Katharine T. Bartlett
Readings in Ethics 611A.01
Fall 2004