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Fall 2023 Course

Legal Profession

Prerequisite: None

Exam Type: One-Day Take-Home

This course explores the richness of the legal profession. Until recently, the profession has held true to its guild origins. Recently, however, it has undergone dramatic change, driven in part by advances in technology and increasing demands for legal services. Whatever their area of specialization, lawyers today must navigate an increasingly complex economic and regulatory environment.

We will begin with a brief history of the profession, where a relatively egalitarian economic model has given way to an increasingly hierarchical one. We will examine fiduciary obligations (e.g., competence, conflicts of interest, confidentiality) that lawyers owe to their clients. Using both a normative and positive lens, we will analyze the interplay of lawyers’ professional and personal ethics with how lawyers actually practice. We will also discuss various efforts to regulate the profession, and compare lawyers with other professionals (e.g., physicians; engineers). We will explore ethical challenges that lawyers encounter in their practice, and the extent to which statutes and precedent provide guidance. We will also explore recent technology’s influence on how lawyers train and practice. During the term, guest speakers will come to class to provide their unique perspectives.

Note: This course is primarily available to JD 3Ls and LLM students. Seats will open to 2Ls as space becomes available.