Ethics in Practice - Saint Louis University

Ethics in Practice: Developing
Practice-Ready Graduates in a
Field Placement Course that
Teaches Legal Ethics
2012 Midwest Clinical Conference
St. Louis, MO
Denise Platfoot Lacey
University of Dayton School of Law
Liz Ryan Cole
Vermont Law School
◦ Excite you about teaching ethics as a
component of a field placement course or
other type of clinic
◦ Identify potential obstacles and benefits
◦ Include your experience and perspective
◦ Consider factors important in implementation
◦ Provide one model for your consideration
Can we be
expected to
We CAN prepare Ethics practice-ready grads.
Course Models for Teaching Legal Ethics
Stand alone podium based
Pre or post field experience
Simultaneous but not integral
Simultaneous with and integral to field
Why is teaching legal ethics in
conjunction with an externship a
good idea and how might it produce
“practice-ready” graduates?
Externships foster development
of professional identity:
Carnegie’s third apprenticeship
Kelly S.Terry, Externships: A Signature Pedagogy for the
Apprenticeship of Professional Identity and Purpose, 59 J.
LEGAL EDUC. 240 (2009). See also Laurie Barron,
Learning How to Learn: Carnegie’s Third Apprenticeship, 18
CLIN. L. REV. 101 (2011)
Context-based learning is key
“…contextualized practice does an infinitely better job of
inculcating the understandings, skills, and dispositions that comprise
competence in the real world, be it a job, a profession, or a service
activity. Likewise, although there may be a useful synergy or
complementarity between the classroom and practice, that mutual
reinforcement occurs only if practice is placed in the foreground. In
reaching this conclusion that performance activities in actual
practice settings are crucial to ecological learning, I draw principal
support from researchers who propose that apprenticeship-like
experiences are a cornerstone of effective learning even during
formal schooling.” Brook K. Baker, Practice-Based Learning:
Emphasizing Practice and Offering Critical Perspectives on the Danger of
“Co-Op”tation, 56 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 619 (2011).
“Law schools cannot prepare students for practice unless they
teach doctrine, theory, and practice as part of a unified, coordinated
program of instruction.” Roy Stuckey et al., Best Practices for Legal
Education 73 (2007).
“Law schools can provide opportunities for students to engage in
context-based learning in hypothetical as well as real life contexts.”
Id. at 105.
As a result of this approach,
students should be able to:
Recognize ethical dilemmas
Identify relevant rules of professional conduct
Apply the rules and other law
Identify other considerations (e.g., moral, economic,
social, strategic, and practical factors) that must be
considered in resolving specific dilemmas
 Discover where to go to get guidance on ethical
dilemmas and how to collaborate and consult with
colleagues to resolve dilemmas
 Consider the roles that lawyers might/should play in
representation when ethical issues arise
 Enter practice enthusiastic about the role they may
play in writing and enforcing rules
Level of Course
Survey course with no pre-requisite
Advanced Course with PR as pre-requisite
Course Credit
Ethics component as a separate course from the
externship field work component
Role of Faculty
Who monitors students’ externship field
work experiences?
Ethics instructor vs. Externship Faculty/Director
Who teaches the ethics course?
Full-time faculty vs. adjunct faculty
Student-Faculty Ratios
Benefits of small ratios
Confidentiality Issues
Field office confidentiality must be maintained when
students are asked to relate their field experience to the
seminar content
Role of Field Supervisors
Selection and training
Course Format
2-credits, survey course
 Teaching Materials
 Support
 Whether students can return to campus
 CALI lessons
 Role of MPRE
 TWEN based discussion group
 Smaller tutorials by practice area
What benefits does tying the externship to
the study of ethics offer?
What would/do you do?
Confidentiality concerns on the part of mentors
Louisiana's anti-SLAPP statute does not prevent a legal aid group from suing a former summer law
clerk that it claims has revealed client confidences in literary works she has published about her
experiences, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana held Nov. 23 (Louisiana
Crisis Assistance Center v. Marzano-Lesnevich, E.D. La., No 11-2102, 11/23/11).
Time for faculty member to respond to student
Modified quote from a student journal - “As a legal writing sample, I submitted a legal memorandum
I wrote. Because all the documents are available for public access and no one told me my work
product was confidential, I used this memorandum without asking approval. Then at one of our
classes I suddenly realized my potential problem. I sent an email to my supervisor to ask for
approval and admitted I had already sent out this memorandum to several entities. This issue
evolved and has haunted me since.”
Impliedly authorized (MR 1.6 cmt. 5)
Express client agreement
Techniques to tie externship
experience to doctrinal concepts
Externship “audits” (thanks for this term to Cindy Slane and
Carrie Kaas who codirected the clinics at Quinnipiac for many years)
Students as “Ethics detectives”
Class discussions prompted by observed ethical
Field Supervisor interviews and class visits
Directed journals
Students draft multiple choice type questions
Externship “audits”
Students assess a particular PR topic at the externship
field office, determine how it is addressed in that setting,
and consider alternatives and best practices
Students devise a PR dilemma on a topic that is
common to their field office practice area or type
Students identify “practice realities” they have observed
in their field work and describe how those affect a
lawyer’s ability to comply with the Rules or engage in
best practices (e.g., economic realities, case load,
support staff, office organization, etc.)
Tell students they are “Ethics Detectives”. Assign
them to interview field supervisors and other
lawyers at practicum site regarding a PR topic and
bring knowledge back to class
Class Discussion
Structure class discussions prompted by observed
ethical dilemmas
Field Supervisors in class
Invite field supervisors to speak during class on a
PR topic they deal with on a regular basis
Invite field supervisors with a experience similar
to the topic for the class to read the materials in
advance of class, then respond to students’
resolution of problems from course book
Assign a student to work with her mentor to
write a “better” problem, based on their own
Other ideas
Directed journals on ethics topics
Assign students to draft multiple choice type
questions and answers reflecting their experience
in the practicum

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