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Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Legal Profession (Spring 2019)

  • Course Number: LAW-505
  • Class Number: 03040
  • Instructor: Bryant Danner

Course Description

In this three-unit course, we will be looking at the legal profession from two perspectives: the standards established for a lawyer’s professional responsibilities and current developments that are significantly affecting the profession. Specifically, we will focus on how these matters shape what practicing attorneys do when interacting with clients or other lawyers. Throughout the course, we will also consider situations illustrating the extent to which lawyers are engaged in both a profession and a business.

We will mostly be concerned with the issues that arise when lawyers represent fee-paying clients in a solo practice or a law firm (large or small), or who serve as in-house counsel in a business enterprise. But we will also touch briefly on some of the special issues arising for public interest, criminal defense, and government lawyers (though not in as much depth as they are covered in LAW-531).

We will give much attention to the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the guidance they provide on professional responsibility issues frequently encountered in the practice.  Familiarity with the Model Rules is also important for purposes of the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam. Almost all states have adopted the Model Rules with relatively minor variations. Until November 2018, California was the most notable exception; but California’s Rules are now – in format and substance – quite closely aligned with the Model Rules. The most significant exceptions relate to the confidentiality rules. We will discuss these differences regarding confidentiality and a few other topics as we work through the course.

Needless to say, the full scope of a lawyer’s responsibilities goes beyond the requirements described in the Model Rules or in the specific professional conduct rules adopted by the state in which he or she practices law. Additional dimensions of a lawyer’s responsibilities are defined in various aspects of agency law, corporate law, tort law, criminal law, constitutional law, and the rules of civil procedure and evidence.

In addition to W. Bradley Wendel’s Professional Responsibility - Examples & Explanations book, the course materials will include the Model Rules (with accompanying Comments), Opinions issued by bar associations, judicial decisions, law review articles, and other commentaries and reports about the profession. Many of the current developments in the legal business receive prominent coverage in the press and on various internet sites. One objective of the course is to provide a context for evaluating the potential long-term significance of these current headline items.

Student participation in class discussions is an essential part of the course. We will talk about how lawyers and clients might deal with some specific and important issues, such as the factors involved in selecting a lawyer (or law firm) to handle a litigation or transaction, how to resolve a question about disclosure of client-confidential information, and how best to cope with the ethical and other issues presented when a lawyer is thinking about moving from one firm to another.

In addition to the in-class final exam, consisting of both multiple-choice and essay questions, grading will also take into account each student’s participation in class sessions.

Course Details

  • Unit Value: 3
  • Grading Options: Numerical Only
  • Schedule: M/W 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm
  • Room Number: Room 3
  • Exam: In-class exam
  • Writing Requirement: No
  • Skills/Experiential Unit Requirement: no
  • Participation: Graded