This course examines Professional Responsibility as it applies to representing poor and/or underrepresented clients (in criminal and civil cases), as well as to lawyering for social justice causes, through impact litigation and other means. We will explore the substantive law of Professional Responsibility, focusing on ethical challenges frequently encountered in social justice representation (e.g., representing clients who are uneducated or 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 requirements of Professional Responsibility are at odds with the attorney's personal morality or vision of social justice). While we will work mostly from the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, required reading will also include scholarship on the unique ethical and moral dilemmas of social justice lawyers, and students will be encouraged to think critically about the rules of Professional Responsibility and their application in social justice contexts. Throughout the course, we will consider and practice the lawyering skills needed to ethically represent clients and social causes, through in-class resolution of hypotheticals and experiential learning, such as simulations or role-playing. Several practicing, social-justice attorneys will join us to guest-speak. Grades will be based on writing assignments, quizzes, and class participation; there will not be a final exam.
The Duke way
» Public service is a core value of the legal profession and central to the Duke Law experience.
Emerging tools for more equitable policy
» Professor Matthew Adler co-edited the new Oxford Handbook of Well-Being and Public Policy.
Prof. Sam Buell discusses his new book on the rise of criminal behavior in corporations and why it’s so difficult to prosecute.
Ethics of Social Justice Lawyering
*Please note that this information is for planning purposes only, and should not be relied upon for the schedule for a given semester. Faculty leaves and sabbaticals, as well as other curriculum considerations, will sometimes affect when a course may be offered.