Sunday, June 5, 2011
New "skills" scholarship: "Practical preparation, student focused, serving the community--the Wills Clinical Lab experience"
This one is by Professor Camille M. Davidson of the Charlotte School of Law and is available at 35 S. Ill. U. L.J. 1-25. From the introduction:
Although “[t]he mission statements of many law schools in the United States include some reference to the preparation of law students for the practice of law,” law schools often struggle with how to provide meaningful experiences for large numbers of students. “The American Bar Association has encouraged law schools to be creative in developing instruction in professional skills related to a lawyer's practice responsibilities, using the strengths and resources available to the school.” The clinical lab is a one-credit course that combines practical experience and classroom training. It is a way to bridge the gap between clinical and doctrinal courses because a doctrinal faculty member teaches the course as either an “add on” or “follow up”to a doctrinal course. Rather than *2 separate practice from theory, the Lab provides an opportunity to apply theory to practice. Moreover, the Lab offers a cost effective alternative to in-house clinics. Given the cost of in-house clinics, it is nearly impossible to offer all law students an in-house clinical experience prior to graduation. As law schools look for lower costs methods to introduce clinical methodology into the law school curriculum, the Lab is a valuable alternative.The clinical lab approach expands the number of existing faculty teaching clinical courses, and therefore more students receive an in-house clinical experience. Often, this potentially less expensive approach to expanding clinical opportunities involves a larger percentage of the law faculty and the pedagogical advantage of directly linking substantive courses with clinical experience. If a large number of clinical labs is offered, and if students are permitted to take multiple labs, this approach can result in a pervasive approach to the teaching of lawyering skills and professional values.
In a helpful article on US Law Week online, attorney Thomas Spahn offers Part II of his discussion of dealing with confidential information of a client when representing joint clients. On this difficult issue, the ethics rules are not clear. Here are the introductory paragraphs to the article:
As explained in Part I of this article (79 U.S.L.W. 2571), the ethics authorities disagree to a remarkable extent on what lawyers must or can do if one jointly represented client provides confidential information to the lawyer that the client does not want shared with the other jointly represented client. Both the American Bar Association and the Restatement (Third) of the Law Governing Lawyers are internally inconsistent and disagree with each other on the “default” rule governing “information flow” when the clients and the lawyer do not agree in advance on such information flow.
For this and other reasons, the authorities unanimously agree that a lawyer who jointly represents clients should arrange for some agreement about information flow at the beginning of the representation. One might think that such an agreement would resolve any ambiguity about the lawyer's role. However, even such advance careful planning will not resolve all of the lawyer's difficult issues.
Part II of this article addresses the lawyer's information flow duties or discretion if the lawyer has arranged for one of two agreements about information flow: (1) a “keep secrets” approach in which the lawyer will not share any material confidences learned from one client with the other jointly represented clients, absent the first client's consent at the time; or (2) a “no secrets” approach, in which the lawyer will share with all jointly represented clients whatever the lawyer learns from one of them.
Spahn states that most lawyers endorse the “no secrets”approach. But even with this approach, difficult issues arise.