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Course Details

Professional Responsibility (Sandman)

Spring 2023   LAW 555-002  

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James Sandman

Distinguished Lecturer and Senior Consultant to the Future of the Profession Initiative

Additional Information

Skills Training
Other Professional Skills: Statutory construction and textual analysis, developing good judgment, thinking like a client.

100% Exam,
Other (Students with strong class participation will be eligible for a step increase in grade if their exam result is on the cusp of a break in grade distribution.)

Take Home,

Satisfies Senior Writing Requirement



Class meets in person.

Course Continuity
Students are encouraged to stay home if you are ill or experience flu-like symptoms. If you miss a class for any reason, it is still your responsibility to make up the work missed.

I offer the following to students who miss class due to illness:

- Class sessions are regularly recorded. I will make these recordings routinely available on the course site to everyone in the class.

- I will make PowerPoint slides or other class materials routinely available on the course site to everyone in the class.

Meeting Times/Location
W 4:30PM - 6:20PM
Silverman Hall 240B



This course will prepare you to be a successful, sought-after lawyer who models integrity and high ethical standards. The course is practical. It draws on my experience in a big law firm, in government service, and as a public interest lawyer. It focuses not merely on the Rules of Professional Conduct, but also on how to serve clients effectively.

We will study starting and ending the lawyer-client relationship, lawyer-client decision-making, client confidentiality, and conflicts of interest. We will discuss the limits of proper advocacy, adversarial abuses, and lawyer discipline. We will explore how the rules regulating lawyers affect the functioning of the legal marketplace and access to justice for people who cannot afford a lawyer. We will see that you can be a great, wildly successful lawyer without ever having to compromise your principles.

The course will consider the different contexts in which lawyers practice – as advocates and as counselors, representing individuals and organizations, and working in law firms, corporate legal departments, government agencies, public interest organizations, and legal aid and public defenders’ offices. No matter what kind of practice you intend to pursue, this course will be useful for you. Our guest speakers will include a state Supreme Court Justice, the Executive Director of a legal aid provider, the General Counsel of a Fortune-500 company, and the General Counsel of a big law firm.

Classes will be a combination of Socratic method and lecture. I do not cold-call. At the beginning of the semester, I designate several students for each class on whom I will call if there are no volunteers.

Our readings will be from the casebook Legal Ethics (8th ed. 2020), by Deborah L. Rhode, David Luban, Scott L. Cummings, and Nora Freeman. We will also use the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, available for free online at https://www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/publications/model_rules_of_professional_conduct/model_rules_of_professional_conduct_table_of_contents/

Grades will be based on a takeaway final exam consisting of three short essay questions.

Course Concentrations

Professional Responsibility and Ethics Learning outcomes: Demonstrate an understanding of how the law affects, and is affected by, the individual course topic; Perform legal analysis in the context of the individual course topic; Communicate effectively on the legal and other aspects of the individual course topic; Demonstrate the ability to use other disciplines to analyze legal issues relevant to the individual course topic, including economics, philosophy, and sociology, as appropriate.


"Legal Ethics" by Deborah L. Rhode, David Luban, Scott L. Cummings, Nora Freeman
Edition: 8th 2020
Publisher: Foundation Press
ISBN: 9781642426892

"Model Rules of Professional Conduct" by ABA
Edition: 2022 Edition
Publisher: ABA
ISBN: 9781639051281