The Law of Lawyering: Ethics of Social Justice Representation
This course will focus on the law governing lawyers as it applies to representing indigent clients (in criminal and civil cases) as well as social justice causes, through impact litigation or other means. We will examine the substantive law of Professional Responsibility and also explore the lawyering skills needed to practice law ethically when representing indigent clients and social causes. The course will examine issues such as the formation of the attorney-client relationship, allocation of authority between client and lawyer, confidentiality, communication with clients, representing clients with diminished capacity, conflicts of interest, representing groups and/or causes, unauthorized practice of law, and pro bono requirements. In addressing these issues, we will consider the challenges of representing clients who are often uneducated and culturally different than the attorney, practicing with limited resources in an environment of many unmet legal needs, defining who the client is when representing a group or cause, and the tensions created when the law of ethics and/or the substantive law are at odds with the attorney’s personal morality and vision of social justice. While particular attention will be paid to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, the class will also examine other sources of relevant law, as well as scholarship on the unique ethical dilemmas of public interest lawyers. Class will rely heavily on the use of hypotheticals and simulated client interactions and in-class resolution of ethically challenging scenarios. We will also have several guest speakers throughout the semester. Grading will be based on four writing assignments and class participation.
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.