Professional Responsibility: Legal Ethics in the Digital Age
This course will cover a variety of ethical issues arising from the integration of technology into legal practice. Students will study the Rules of Professional Responsibility (looking to both the structure of the profession and the standards of bar admission and maintaining admission) while learning about the impact of technological advancements on ethical law practice. The course will cover the themes and topics covered in the standard Professional Responsibility course, including maintaining client confidences, ethically marketing legal services, identifying and preventing conflicts of interest, effective delivery of legal services and attorney misconduct but this course will focus on how technology is creating new challenges and opportunities in maintaining the standards of the bar. Some of the issues that arise as a result of new technology that will be explored in depth include: the use of the Internet for client development, the use of cloud-based computing and outsourcing by a law firm, new online methods of lawyer advertising, concepts of “virtual presence”, duties to prospective clients when interacting online, and virtual law practice in general. Additional topics for discussion that would especially address the small firm and entrepreneurial lawyers include: unbundled legal services and alternative forms of technology-driven legal service delivery, online dispute resolution, franchised law firm models, the role and limits of a web advisor, alternative billing methods, entrepreneurship in the development of new law firm models, and collaborative methods of online delivery.
Professor Rebecca Roiphe