Professional Responsibility:
Heroes and Villains
Law 6020

Clark D. Cunningham

W. Lee Burge Chair inn Law & Ethics
Semester 2015
Wednesday, 2:45 pm - 4:25 pm

Room 201

Copyright 2013

Last updated
April 17, 2015
This course is offered in Fall 2015 in a new 3 credit version called
The Client Relationship


Comments from course evaluations:
"This was the most conducive atmosphere for learning I have seen in law school. There was group participation every class, interactive quizzes, real world problem solving, and client interaction. Every day was different and I always felt engaged."
"Great course and I really learned a lot."
"The professor really wanted to create the most optimal experience for the students."
"The quizzes were a great way to prompt discussion, and I liked that sample questions were given ahead of time."
"The design of the course was very good."
"His class is very supportive. He is very responsive to student feedback and concerns."

THIS CLASS MEETS in Room 201 from 2:45pm - 4:25pm. The reading assignments are posted on this web site, linked to the syllabus, except for the Materials on Georgia Legal Ethics and the Case Studies which will be passed out in class at no charge.

Constance Baker Motley with James Meredith



Course Description

This course is one section of the required Professional Responsibility course but course requirements, teaching methodology, and grading are very different than the other sections.
Is "lawyer-hero" a contradiction in terms? If not, do lawyers become heroes because of their lawyer role or in spite of it? This course will explore the possibility that the answer can be "yes" to both parts of the question, because law is unique among the professions in the way it creates for its members profound moral dangers and also offers opportunities for honorable action and inspiring self sacrifice. Three interconnecting themes will recur throughout the course:

(1) Regulation--what do the Rules of Professional Conduct and other sources of legal authority require, prohibit and permit lawyers to do in various situations? You will learn the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct and, to the extent they differ in important ways, the comparable American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

(2) Client Centered Practice--what does it mean to be committed to serving your clients and how does such a commitment go beyond what the rules require or prohibit?

(3) Heroism--how does the practice of law challenge lawyers to be heroes of their own lives?

The course is organized around a series of exercises and case studies which are intended to illustrate and develop all three themes.

Students will be assigned to Firms.

ATTENDANCE: Students are expected to attend every class absent good cause for absence. A student may be required to withdraw from the course without credit based upon repeated absence and/or a pattern of being tardy or leaving early without good cause. If a student is absent or late when a quiz is given, it is the student's responsibility to notify the instructor promptly (and preferably before class) if the student wishes to take the quiz as a make-up; such a student must provide in writing an explanation of the good cause and make arrangements with the instructor to take the quiz, which must normally be completed before the next class. Although class participation is not formally factored into the course grade, students will be evaluated on their preparation and contribution to firm work.

COURSE GRADE: The course grade will be calculated as follows:
Writing assignment: 40%
Composite score based on in-class quizzes, firm assignments, and evaluation of work in firms: 30%
-- Appealing quiz grades
Final exam: 30%

EXERCISES: There will be two major exercises, which each involve two role plays based on the same fact pattern. Each student must prepare to play an assigned role (lawyer or sometimes a client) for each role play.(A student's performance in a role play is not graded.) A writing assignment based on one of these exercises will count as 40% of the final course grade.

CASE STUDIES: The case studies are based on actual cases. Students must be prepared to engage in rigorous class discussion about the details of the cases and to analyze the decisions and actions of the lawyers in terms of all three themes (compliance with regulations, client service, and heroism).

Required Materials

No materials are required for purchase at the bookstore

Duplicated Materials: Distributed in class at no cost
Materials on Georgia Legal Ethics (including the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct)
Case Studies
Frank Armani and the Garrow Case (edited from Tom Alibrandi & Frank Armani, Privileged Information)

General Information (Course Administration)


Clark D. Cunningham
Office: Law School 442
Phone: (404) 413-9168
Fax: (404) 413-9225
Faculty Assistant: Karen P. Butler
    Room 402   (404) 413-9082
Office Hours: Wednesday, 2:00 - 2:30 pm and 4:30 - 5:00 pm in Room 201 and by appointment

EXAMINATION   The final examination will count for 30% of the course grade and will be a two-hour closed book multiple choice exam consisting of 50 questions.

Students will be expected to be familiar with all the assigned readings, including all pages assigned from the case studies. Students must also be familiar with the fact patterns for the exercises. Students who attend all exercises and case study discussions will be better prepared for the examination.  

You will need to know the content of the ABA Model Rules and Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct assigned on the course syllabus (including the comments) but are not expected to identify them by rule number. If you are asked to compare a specific Georgia rule with an ABA model rule, the text of the ABA model rule will be attached to the exam. Except for such comparison questions, exam questions that refer to a specific rule will provide a description of the topic of the rule rather than the rule number (e.g. "the Georgia rule of professional conduct for lawyers who represent corporations" rather than "GRPC 1.13").

Some of the questions will be MPRE type questions that ask you to apply the rules of professional conduct to a hypothetical fact pattern. Some questions will test knowledge and comprehension of court decisions and other materials assigned for reading. Many of the questions will be based on fact patterns from the Exercises and Case Studies and will focus on issues of ethical decisionmaking and professional judgment discussed in class and in the writing assignments. (In terms of the exercises, complete review of the "Exercises" section of the course web site is an excellent method of preparation; by "complete" I mean all the background information, specific instructions, videos, student papers posted on the web site, and instructor comments on the papers.)

The final exam will contain the following instructions:

No notes or outlines. No copy of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct or the ABA Model Code or Model Rules other than the ABA Model Rules which are attached to the end of this exam.

Assume the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct of Professional Conduct apply unless otherwise specified. The phrase “Rules of Professional Conduct” includes the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct as well as the identical provisions of the hypothetical “New York Rules of Professional Conduct” applied to the Simon and OPM Exercises and the hypothetical “Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct” applied to the Baby Jessica Exercise. MUST, REQUIRED, PROHIBITED or SUBJECT TO DISCIPLINE asks whether the conduct referred to or described in the question subjects the attorney to discipline under one or more provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct. MAY, PERMITTED OR PROPER asks whether the conduct referred to or described in the question is professionally appropriate in that it would not subject the attorney to discipline under one or more provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Click here to see raw scores on prior exams.