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211.2 sec. 1 - Practical Ethics: A Simulation Approach (Fall 2014)

Instructor: Bruce Budner  (view instructor's teaching evaluations | profile)
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Units: 2
Meeting Time: W 6:25-8:15
Meeting Location: 145

Course Start: August 27, 2014
Course Control Number (Non-1Ls): 49550


This course is about the varied and often competing duties and influences that guide lawyers’ conduct.

These duties derive largely from written ethical rules and case law. The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct have been adopted in one form or another by every state except California. The MPRE and many states’ Bar essay exams are based on these rules. We will look closely at them. We will also consider the significant differences between the ABA Model Rules and California’s rules.

We will examine the majority of the Model Rules in depth. Though the course is not an MPRE prep course per se, it will provide a strong foundation for your independent MPRE preparation.

But we will drill much more deeply than a mere study of rules and cases. This course will challenge you to understand the limitations of the rules and to reflect on how you would conduct yourselves when facing a variety of ethical dilemmas.

We will explore a range of ethical problems faced by practicing lawyers. We will consider litigation and transactional matters, civil and criminal cases, and the particular concerns of prosecutors and other government lawyers. We will assess the kinds of ethical and moral decisions lawyers must make and the many consequences of those decisions.

The course is designed for those who enjoy learning by doing and discussing. This is not a lecture-format course.

Classes will focus on a series of hypothetical problems that simulate the kind of hard problems lawyers face every day. Most classes will feature one student presentation. Following each presentation, we will engage in a discussion of the issues raised by the hypo and variations of it. Other hypos will simply be the subjects of class discussions.

I look not just for active participation in discussions but for thoughtful, considered contributions that reveal an appreciation of the problems, an understanding of the applicable rules and standards, attention to the readings, and a willingness to share your own values.

The body of hypos will implicate a wide range of ethical issues. We will assess the kinds of choices lawyers must make and the many consequences of those choices to the lawyer, the client, and others.

The problems often defy the idea of a “correct” answer. They are intended to draw out varying points of view. You are encouraged to bring your own experiences from clinics and elsewhere into the conversation and to introduce your own values and worldview into the conversation.

Student presentations of the hypos will be in the form of a role play. Each presentation will involve three students. They should last approximately 15 minutes. Every student will participate in one presentation during the semester. Creativity and humor are most welcome, but the primary purpose of the presentations is to educate and to demonstrate an understanding of the range of issues the hypo presents.

This course satisfies the Professional Responsibility Requirement.

This course satisfies the Skills Requirement.

Exam Notes: TH
Course Category: Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility

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