Legal Ethics

The Law School offers several courses in legal ethics, such as Professional Responsibility and the Regulation of Lawyers, Professional Responsibility in Criminal Practice, Professional Responsibility in Civil Litigation, Evidence and Professional Responsibility, and Professional Responsibility in Law and Business.

In Professional Responsibility and the Regulation of Lawyers, for example, students learn all the rules governing law practice and the attorney-client relationship. These rules come from professional conduct codes promulgated by state and federal courts, statutes, administrative agency regulations, court decisions, and even the Constitution. They define who may be a lawyer, where lawyers may practice, a lawyer’s obligations to clients, adversaries and tribunals, and a lawyer’s liability for discipline or money damages if he or she breaks the rules.

Full-time faculty including Stephen Gillers, a leading scholar in the field, Oscar Chase, co-director of the Dwight D. Opperman Institute for Judicial Administration, and William Nelson, a prominent legal historian whose class looks at U.S. lawyers in history, teach these classes, as do adjunct faculty who are successful practicing lawyers and judges.
Students come away with an understanding that legal ethics, broadly defined, is every practicing lawyer’s second most important area, right after the area in which he or she specializes. And for some, legal ethics will be the area in which they specialize, or one of them – in representing lawyers or advising clients who have claims against lawyers; or in helping to manage risk at a law firm or corporate or government law office.