Name: Lois R. Lupica
Title: Professor of Law
School: University of Maine School of Law
Mailing Address:
246 Deering Avenue
Portland, Maine 04102

Phone: 207-780-4599
Home Page:
Summary Description:

I developed a Professional Responsibility course that had two central objectives: (i) to teach students, so that they learn, not only the Rules of Professional Responsibility, but also the values of professionalism, and (ii) to re-engage members of the practicing bar and bench in discussions of professional values. This course is offered as a seminar (16 students). A member of the local bench or bar is invited to each class to participate in the discussion of the day with the students. The guest participant is not there to lecture, but to participate in the discussion. Each class revolves around a hypothetical problem and related readings, and is led by a two-student discussion-leader team. My role is to introduce the topic of the day, keep the discussion on course, and to ask pointed questions. The students’ task is to engage the guest participant in the discussion and analysis of the issue of the day.

Through this engagement, the students were presented with the opportunity to observe and internalize professional behaviors and decision-making modeled by the guest. In turn, the guests found a mirror in the students, and were “forced” to critically examine their professional behaviors and attitudes. What developed was a continuing dialogue and exchange of ideas on the subject of professionalism between students (with their idealism), and practitioners (with their practicality, grown out of experience). What also evolved was an informal mentoring program; the guest participants served as a proxy for the often-elusive mentor. The mentoring of new lawyers is often compromised in competitive practice environments; newer lawyers therefore have fewer opportunities to learn the habits, behaviors and practices expected of professionals. Enrolled students were afforded the opportunity to meet and spend some time with practicing lawyers and judges, and to develop a healthy appreciation of the complexity and ambiguity of the lawyer’s role in and relationship with society. The students began to recognize the value of their reputation for integrity, and how easily it could be lost. They also were afforded through this class, the opportunity and methodology to critically analyze the traditional conception of professionalism, in light of the diversity that currently exists among members of the legal profession; greater diversity in the bar has meant that “unspoken codes of conduct” can no longer be relied upon.

The course created a “buzz” on the subject of professionalism among members of the bar, as well as among the students. It also offered our invited practitioners an opportunity for a more meaningful “continuing ethical education” than they might have received through their experience in more traditional CLE programs. It has become one of the most popular offerings at the law school, with long waiting lists for enrollment. The standards for both discussion and student evaluation were high. Fifty percent of the students’ final grade was based upon class participation and engagement. Due to the course’s relevance and the credibility presented by a respected member of the bar, the students were motivated, engaged and regularly met and exceeded high standards set.
Program History:

The Professional Responsibility offering described above was first offered in the Spring 2003 semester. It grew out of my frustration with ineffectiveness of the traditional professional responsibility course. It also grew out of a meeting I attended with some local judges, justices and attorneys, at which they decried declining attorney professionalism. The judges and lawyers observed that many attorneys did not behave in ways that reflected a full understanding of the “codes” of professional conduct. They questioned what was being taught in law schools, and how might the law school facilitate a mentoring program, where young (and not-so-young) lawyers could learn these “codes” from other lawyers, both more and less experienced. I considered the extent to which lawyers could learn, and relearn from students (and me) as well.

This class has been offered every semester (but one), since its inception. In five semesters, eighty students (out of a student body of ~275) have had the opportunity to enroll. In addition, over seventy-five practicing lawyers and judges have participated in the course. It is very easy to get to know lawyers and judges in the culturally intimate Maine Bar, and as such, I found that there was no shortage of willing guest participants. Indeed, at Bar functions and meetings, lawyers and judges regularly approach me to ask about the course, and to volunteer their participation. Just about every guest invites me to ask them again, and invites the students to call with questions, issues, and for information interviews.

As mentioned above, 50% of the students’ final grade is based upon class participation. The remaining 50% is based upon a reflective paper/take-home exam. The quality of these exams, after five semesters of offering the course, has been uniformly high.
Confidential Items:

Expanded Program Description (Optional):

I will e-mail you a copy of the article I wrote describing the course in greater detail, entitled, Professional Responsibility Re-designed: Sparking a Dialogue between Students and the Bar, forthcoming in the Journal of the Legal Profession.

Supporting Materials:

Copy of the Syllabus from a representative semester

Article I wrote describing the class, Professional Responsibility Re-designed: Sparking a Dialogue between Students and the Bar, forthcoming in the Journal of the Legal Profession.