An Essay on Teaching Professional Responsibility
Patterson, L. Ray
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There is, I argue, need for a new approach to teaching law students how to become professionally responsible lawyers. The core problem in teaching the professional responsibility course is that it is a course in lawyer's law that treats only the ethical rules and ignores the fact that procedural and malpractice rules are also relevant. If, however, the professional responsibility course becomes a course in lawyer's law, it follows that it must encompass rules of procedure, rules of malpractice, and rules of ethics (which should be identified as what they are, rules of discipline). There is, however, a development that portends change: the American Law Institute's Restatement of the Law Governing Lawyers, which provides a unified approach that can be a basis for removing the built-in barriers that compartmentalize the concept of the lawyer's duties. The success of the Restatement will depend in part on the extent to which legal educators adopt its unified approach. The extent to which law teachers do adopt the ALI's approach is going to be determined in part upon how they answer two questions: (1) Why is it desirable to integrate the procedural, malpractice, and disciplinary components into a coherent body of lawyer's law?; and (2) How does one achieve the integration? I deal with each of these questions in turn.