Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

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vanwinkle
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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby vanwinkle » Fri May 20, 2011 11:33 am

Gideon Strumpet wrote:As the article points out, it seems like they did a lousy job painting the line between the professional ethical and normative moral issues. It's clear the question, and the class, were (clumsily) designed to try and pose moral rather than ethical questions. And from the quotes, it sounds like at least some of their students got that distinction.

Still, there are all sorts of sticky issues you run into with this, some of which are actually a little interesting. For one, if you're advising Lisa only as her "friend," then that means the attorney-client privilege does not apply; so you can be called out to disclose anything she said to you. That's seems like a point worth discussing, if only to remind people of the important protections Lisa forfeits by not having you advise her as a lawyer.

You're trying to paint this as more complex than it actually was. If you look at the question, Lisa is asking for advice from you "as a friend who is a Christian lawyer" and later as a friend "who is trained in the law". The question also ends by asking (and this is the exact language) for "your counsel on how to think through her legal situation" and "how would you counsel Lisa?" The question clearly invokes the student's legal capacity and all the duties of law and ethics that go with it.

There doesn't appear to be any distinction here. You're drawing a false line between morals and ethics in a situation where legal ethics clearly applies. And it doesn't sound like this was a professional responsibility course trying to tease out the distinctions between lawyer-client and personal/other relationships anyway. It's safe to presume, in any law school class, that what is being primarily taught is the law and related principles such as legal ethics. Even a course on "morality" or "religion" in law school should be about how those things relate to the law. And a full, complex teaching of that relationship should leave students with a better understanding of the issues than simply believing their professor expected them to tell their client to violate the law, which is a dramatically inappropriate default to be teaching law students.

Given those rather safe assumptions, it's clear that one of two things happened here: Either 1) the course was intentionally teaching students to disobey the law and to "counsel" people asking them for advice in their capacity as a lawyer to violate the law when they personally disagree with it, or 2) they were so reckless with their teaching that some students left the classroom believing that's what was being taught. Either are so dangerous to the integrity of the legal profession that the ABA should at least investigate.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby Gideon Strumpet » Fri May 20, 2011 11:35 am

If you look at the question, Lisa is asking for advice from you "as a friend who is a Christian lawyer".

If you look at the question, Lisa is asking for advice from you "as a friend who is a Christian lawyer".

I can use bold too.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby vanwinkle » Fri May 20, 2011 11:37 am

Gideon Strumpet wrote:
If you look at the question, Lisa is asking for advice from you "as a friend who is a Christian lawyer".

If you look at the question, Lisa is asking for advice from you "as a friend who is a Christian lawyer".

I can use bold too.

But not your brain, apparently. One of these things overrides the other when both are involved. Do you really, seriously believe that friendship trumps legal ethics?

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby Gideon Strumpet » Fri May 20, 2011 11:40 am

vanwinkle wrote:Do you really, seriously believe that friendship trumps legal ethics?

Do you really, seriously believe that everyone you speak to becomes your client just because you hold a JD?

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Ty Webb
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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby Ty Webb » Fri May 20, 2011 11:46 am

Gideon Strumpet wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:Do you really, seriously believe that friendship trumps legal ethics?

Do you really, seriously believe that everyone you speak to becomes your client just because you hold a JD?


There is no short supply of people that enter my life and re-affirm my choice to avoid religion like the plague.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby gwuorbust » Fri May 20, 2011 11:48 am

Gideon Strumpet wrote:
If you look at the question, Lisa is asking for advice from you "as a friend who is a Christian lawyer".

If you look at the question, Lisa is asking for advice from you "as a friend who is a Christian lawyer".

I can use bold too.


As a lawyer, if you are offering legal advice to anyone, including a friend, then that counts as acting as a lawyer. And thus you are bound to uphold legal ethics.

No matter if you say: "This is not legal advice," "as a friend," "as your business partner"...if you then proceed to offer counsel on how to act, you are acting as a lawyer and are bound to legal ethics. Just saying "as a friend, I advocate you break the law" is a smokescreen that does not remove your professional responsibilities.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby bjsesq » Fri May 20, 2011 11:49 am

Gideon Strumpet wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:Do you really, seriously believe that friendship trumps legal ethics?

Do you really, seriously believe that everyone you speak to becomes your client just because you hold a JD?


If you are giving them legal advice, ethics apply, brah. Now stfu.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby vanwinkle » Fri May 20, 2011 11:50 am

Gideon Strumpet wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:Do you really, seriously believe that friendship trumps legal ethics?

Do you really, seriously believe that everyone you speak to becomes your client just because you hold a JD?

When they ask you for advice as a lawyer and based on your legal training, and you give it to them, then yes, obviously.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby Gideon Strumpet » Fri May 20, 2011 11:52 am

gwuorbust wrote:No matter if you say: "This is not legal advice," "as a friend," "as your business partner"...if you then proceed to offer counsel on how to act, you are acting as a lawyer and are bound to legal ethics. Just saying "as a friend, I advocate you break the law" is a smokescreen that does not remove your professional responsibilities.

I said this back on page one. Several other people said the same thing; it's a terrible question, with a lot of issues, and easy to misunderstand. I'm also not convinced you can draw this line in front of an ethics committee. It's a bad lesson, taught badly. But it doesn't amount to teaching students, as lawyers, to counsel a client to commit a crime. Liberty is a terrible school for lots of reasons; this just isn't one of them.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby bergg007 » Fri May 20, 2011 12:07 pm

The question asks the the respondent to give their advice "as a Christian" and not as a lawyer. So yes it's important to keep your professional ethics in line. But if you read the question carefully, as i mentioned in an earlier post, It asks the respondant to help Lisa "think through her legal situation... and give advice as a christian" in other words, inform your "friend" of the legal ramifications of her actions and then likely tell her to break the law.

Liberty is a joke and a terrible school, what else could you expect from Jerry's kids? but this question does not suggest that lawyers should suggest their clients break the law, it is saying that "christians" should "follow God's Law and not man's" even though their idea of God's law is horribly flawed. I agree that Liberty should lose or have never gained it's accreditation, but this question is not the reason why.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby gwuorbust » Fri May 20, 2011 12:31 pm

bergg007 wrote:The question asks the the respondent to give their advice "as a Christian" and not as a lawyer. So yes it's important to keep your professional ethics in line. But if you read the question carefully, as i mentioned in an earlier post, It asks the respondant to help Lisa "think through her legal situation... and give advice as a christian" in other words, inform your "friend" of the legal ramifications of her actions and then likely tell her to break the law.

Liberty is a joke and a terrible school, what else could you expect from Jerry's kids? but this question does not suggest that lawyers should suggest their clients break the law, it is saying that "christians" should "follow God's Law and not man's" even though their idea of God's law is horribly flawed. I agree that Liberty should lose or have never gained it's accreditation, but this question is not the reason why.


lolololololol 0L fail.

if you are a lawyer and are giving legal advice to anyone, you are bound by the code of professional ethics.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby bergg007 » Fri May 20, 2011 1:24 pm

gwuorbust wrote:
bergg007 wrote:The question asks the the respondent to give their advice "as a Christian" and not as a lawyer. So yes it's important to keep your professional ethics in line. But if you read the question carefully, as i mentioned in an earlier post, It asks the respondant to help Lisa "think through her legal situation... and give advice as a christian" in other words, inform your "friend" of the legal ramifications of her actions and then likely tell her to break the law.

Liberty is a joke and a terrible school, what else could you expect from Jerry's kids? but this question does not suggest that lawyers should suggest their clients break the law, it is saying that "christians" should "follow God's Law and not man's" even though their idea of God's law is horribly flawed. I agree that Liberty should lose or have never gained it's accreditation, but this question is not the reason why.


lolololololol 0L fail.

if you are a lawyer and are giving legal advice to anyone, you are bound by the code of professional ethics.



That's my point, they are not being asked to give legal advice. They are asked to give fundamentalist christian advice.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby Bill Cosby » Fri May 20, 2011 1:34 pm

bergg007 wrote:
gwuorbust wrote:
bergg007 wrote:The question asks the the respondent to give their advice "as a Christian" and not as a lawyer. So yes it's important to keep your professional ethics in line. But if you read the question carefully, as i mentioned in an earlier post, It asks the respondant to help Lisa "think through her legal situation... and give advice as a christian" in other words, inform your "friend" of the legal ramifications of her actions and then likely tell her to break the law.

Liberty is a joke and a terrible school, what else could you expect from Jerry's kids? but this question does not suggest that lawyers should suggest their clients break the law, it is saying that "christians" should "follow God's Law and not man's" even though their idea of God's law is horribly flawed. I agree that Liberty should lose or have never gained it's accreditation, but this question is not the reason why.


lolololololol 0L fail.

if you are a lawyer and are giving legal advice to anyone, you are bound by the code of professional ethics.



That's my point, they are not being asked to give legal advice. They are asked to give fundamentalist christian advice.


If it's advice on a legal matter, it's legal advice. Really no getting around that.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby gwuorbust » Fri May 20, 2011 1:40 pm

bergg007 wrote:
That's my point, they are not being asked to give legal advice. They are asked to give fundamentalist christian advice.


Image

When a lawyer, is discussing the law while giving advice to one individual..she is bound by the code of professional ethics. If she is (a) discussing someone's individual situation (b) the law (discussing the ramifications of an action count as discussing the law) and (c) giving advice (be that normal legal advice or some Christian bullshit advice).. she is acting within her professional capacity, whether she likes it or not. And as such, she are bound by the code of professional responsibility. She cannot hide behind a false veil of "I'm going to advise you as a Christian friend." How much clearer can I make this?

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby vanwinkle » Fri May 20, 2011 1:53 pm

bergg007 wrote:The question asks the the respondent to give their advice "as a Christian" and not as a lawyer.

bergg007 wrote:That's my point, they are not being asked to give legal advice. They are asked to give fundamentalist christian advice.

Epic RC fail. As was already pointed out multiple times, the hypo says she asks for advice "as a Christian lawyer" and as as someone "who is trained in the law". She is very clearly asking for legal advice. She's asking for legal advice consistent with her (and presumably the student's) Christian morals, and she's making the request as a "friend", but none of that changes the fact that she's asking for legal advice and the expected responses on the exam clearly involved legal analysis.

Please actually read the problem and then try again.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby JamMasterJ » Sat May 21, 2011 8:17 pm

Ty Webb wrote:
Gideon Strumpet wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:Do you really, seriously believe that friendship trumps legal ethics?

Do you really, seriously believe that everyone you speak to becomes your client just because you hold a JD?


There is no short supply of people that enter my life and re-affirm my choice to avoid religion like the plague.

As a Christian with what I hope is a modicum of tolerance, I hope you see some of us that are not like this.

BTW, isn't the bolded essentially the same type of intolerance that sickens you about the people at Liberty?

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby gwuorbust » Sat May 21, 2011 8:59 pm

JamMasterJ wrote:
Ty Webb wrote:
Gideon Strumpet wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:Do you really, seriously believe that friendship trumps legal ethics?

Do you really, seriously believe that everyone you speak to becomes your client just because you hold a JD?


There is no short supply of people that enter my life and re-affirm my choice to avoid religion like the plague.

As a Christian with what I hope is a modicum of tolerance, I hope you see some of us that are not like this.

BTW, isn't the bolded essentially the same type of intolerance that sickens you about the people at Liberty?


religion, especially organized religion, is a human creation controlled and directed by humans. sexual preference is not.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby JamMasterJ » Sat May 21, 2011 11:37 pm

gwuorbust wrote:
religion, especially organized religion, is a human creation controlled and directed by humans. sexual preference is not.

Not really what I was saying. I meant that intolerance of religion was akin to intolerance of homosexuality or any other form of intolerance, though I guess not quite as socially harmful in most people's eyes. I have no issue with people being turned off to certain groups of my faith because of personal experiences, but to write off everyone because of the actions of an extremist few is ludicrous. It would be like disassociating from all Muslims because of 9/11, which I believe that any of us would think is asinine

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby zanda » Sat May 21, 2011 11:52 pm

In his (her?) defense, the poster said he avoids religion, not religious people, like the plague.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby Lawquacious » Sun May 22, 2011 12:15 am

flcath wrote:
Lawquacious wrote:
BruceWayne wrote:GASP! I mean it's not like people disagree on this! They're a private Christian school and it's within their rights. I'm not sure why people flip out every time Christians express their rights but don't mind when other groups do so. Freedom of speech/religion applies to everyone---not just the groups most popular with fans of Real Time with Bill Mahr.


+1...

On a separate note, regarding the school purportedly telling students it's ok for a lawyer support or encourage civil disobedience in certain contexts (assuming the client wanted to do the civil disobedience, and the role of the lawyer was primarily to advise about legal risks and not push the client in that direction), I don't think that is necessarily an ethical violation per se. Attorneys help shape, guide, and challenge laws--not just pedantically follow them in all situations. There are constitutional cases (e.g. some civil rights cases) that probably wouldn't have been brought if the lawyers involved were too afraid to support the client in breaking unfair laws in order to challenge them in court IMO. This is just my opinion, and although I am a rising 2L, I haven't taken professional responsibility yet, so my position may change.

But really this is an extremely contentious issue (faith and politics generally lol), almost guaranteed to stir up a hornet's nest. But I do respect OP's willingness to bring it up, because he obviously strongly disagrees with it and is exercising his freedom of speech.

I also question exactly what has been encouraged (and whether this is just one professor or is a clear school policy statement). I suspect that perhaps there is a bit of a strawman phenomenon that could be occurring, but really don't know.

I disagree.

I strongly believe in euthanasia in situations where modern law would call it murder or manslaughter. It would still be wrong for me to encourage a fragile old woman or scared daughter who looks to me for counsel to pull the plug on their husband/father, even if I did make the legal consequences clear beforehand.

Lawyers have formal avenues through which they can change the law, including the representation of someone who has committed an act of civil disobedience. Using your law school as a breeding ground for legal practitioners who will--if you've done your job effectively--force a specific law out of existence by abusing their privileged status within the legal system is not one of them.



So I take it you wouldn't have taken Jack Kevorkian as a client? (assuming you couldn't get him to clearly renounce what he was doing, but where he was seeking your counsel about consequences if he choose to continue with assisted suicides. I realize this would be different than affirmatively counseling him or pushing him to do so, but my statement re: addressing civil disobedience with a client was reduced from affirmation [which I believe is alleged ITT of Liberty]. It was not clear to me that there was a clear suggestion that a professional practitioner affirmatively counsel someone to break the law for some of the reasons I mention below, though even if there is such evidence available I think the countervailing ethical principle argument may nevertheless have some validity. But I don't necessarily endorse Liberty law school or the views expressed by any faculty). :wink:

But more seriously (than the Kevorkian reference), I don't feel like I really disagree with what you are saying in terms of the importance of respect for the law and formal procedure (though I do think formalism can be a problem in some scenarios). There are indeed appropriate and inappropriate ways of addressing what are arguably defects in the law or in particular judicial rulings, and as a general rule advising a client to break the law, or perhaps even tolerating it, is out IMO (I do think that there are sometimes countervailing ethical principles involved in a given scenario, so to focus too much on one ethical principle-- general respect for formal law--while ignoring other potentially compelling ethical principles--the priority that the Constitution places on religious beliefs, which historically have been give precedence over other formal legal mandates at times--can be problematic). But my posting was somewhat impulsive (including the +1), even though I do get the feeling that there is at least a bit of a strawman that has been created out of the Liberty test hypo.

I'm not entirely comfortable myself with the idea of themed law schools (Christian or other religion), and I do think some of what was reported in the article tends to support the idea that some of what is being taught there is at the very least on the fringe of what is professionally acceptable, nevermind being a 'best practice.' But I also think that there is risk with the ABA getting too involved in promulgation of rules that intervene in polarized moral issues (such as I feel the APA has done in the psychology world). To some extent such intervention is probably necessary or desirable though, especially where the rules try to provide 'neutral principles' to help guide practice or appropriate boundaries (though there is some paradox, because perhaps nobody can have a truly neutral view on certain issues, including those promulgating the rules).

Regarding my concern about the strawman phenomenon: what I mean is that while I think some of what is going on at Liberty sounds at least sketchy to me, making the leap to saying (or clearly implying) that the school policy is to teach that lawyers should directly professionally counsel people to break the law or to fly in the face of legal process seems to me like it may be a stretch, especially when the main evidence for this is an exam hypo and speculation that arguing the exam one way resulted in higher grades. I think that the discussion or inclusion of difficult normative issues in the context of law school by a professor doesn't necessarily mean that you have to share their view or that they are necessarily counseling a particular professional course of action in what they are saying (though they could be, and I feel that I have even had the experience of having a professor whose normative bias came out on the exam and where the best argument in the context of the exam was one that I find normatively questionable).

In summary, there are difficult ethical and moral questions that are touched on in this thread, and I think these are made more difficult because there is limited information being reported that has been significantly extrapolated from and interpreted.

One other note--in response to the earlier attempt (VanWinkle) to distinguish the civil disobedience of breaking a law within the jurisdiction it can be enforced in and breaking the law by leaving the jurisdiction in contravention of an order: I think that is largely a distinction of form rather than substance; in both cases the person is breaking the law and liable for the specified legal consequences if caught and prosecuted. Civil disobedience doesn't necessarily imply turning oneself in, or in otherwise making oneself available for arrest. But really I think a lot of this type of argument (on all sides) stands on the cloudy and shaky foundation of numerous extrapolated and questionable assumptions.

TL;DR- Liberty (or some of the faculty) may be off-base and in violation with professional ethics, but for reasons mentioned above (and perhaps others) it is difficult to conclude this with any certainty based on the information provided IMO.
Last edited by Lawquacious on Sun May 22, 2011 1:26 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby JamMasterJ » Sun May 22, 2011 12:15 am

zanda wrote:In his (her?) defense, the poster said he avoids religion, not religious people, like the plague.

Good point, and I guess my ballbusting isn't doing anything positive toward his/her view of run-of-the-mill Christians anyway :oops: Guess I should shut up now.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby kalvano » Sun May 22, 2011 12:19 am

Lawquacious - from the link in the OP:


Students at Liberty Law School tell RD that in the required Foundations of Law class in the fall of 2008, taught by Miller’s attorneys Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, they were repeatedly instructed that when faced with a conflict between “God’s law” and “man’s law,” they should resolve that conflict through “civil disobedience.” One student said, “the idea was when you are confronted with a particular situation, for instance, if you have a court order against you that is in violation of what you see as God’s law, essentially... civil disobedience was the answer.”

This student and two others, who all requested anonymity for fear of reprisal by Staver (who is also the law school’s dean), recounted the classroom discussion of civil disobedience, as well as efforts to draw comparisons between choosing “God’s law” over “man’s law” to the American revolution and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. According to one student, in the Foundations course both Staver and Lindevaldsen “espoused the opinion that in situations where God’s law is in direct contradiction to man’s law, we have an obligation to disobey it.”


That sounds like directly instructing students to advise clients to break the law.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby Lawquacious » Sun May 22, 2011 1:21 am

kalvano wrote:Lawquacious - from the link in the OP:


Students at Liberty Law School tell RD that in the required Foundations of Law class in the fall of 2008, taught by Miller’s attorneys Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, they were repeatedly instructed that when faced with a conflict between “God’s law” and “man’s law,” they should resolve that conflict through “civil disobedience.” One student said, “the idea was when you are confronted with a particular situation, for instance, if you have a court order against you that is in violation of what you see as God’s law, essentially... civil disobedience was the answer.”

This student and two others, who all requested anonymity for fear of reprisal by Staver (who is also the law school’s dean), recounted the classroom discussion of civil disobedience, as well as efforts to draw comparisons between choosing “God’s law” over “man’s law” to the American revolution and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. According to one student, in the Foundations course both Staver and Lindevaldsen “espoused the opinion that in situations where God’s law is in direct contradiction to man’s law, we have an obligation to disobey it.”


That sounds like directly instructing students to advise clients to break the law.


Or at least advising the students to break the law themselves by civil disobendience if a ruling goes strongly against their personal conscience and beliefs (though that this should be advised of clients is probably implied as well). An attorney directly disobeying a court order they don't agree with would be at risk of contempt, though I'm not sure that a lawyer who who is found in contempt is per se in violation of ABA standards (I think there is at least an investigation though).

I did mention that I don't think my position necessarily depends on whether students were affirmatively told to counsel clients this way (which it sounds like they probably were, at least by implication); it still strikes me that there is a lot of extrapolation going on in terms of the significance of what was said and done (and how it was reported), but I'm not necessarily saying that Liberty isn't in violation of ethical principles-- I don't know. I do think that if it was clear they were in violation of professional ethics the ABA would be investigating the situation now that this is public information (maybe there is an investigation).

I appreciate you clarifying with text- I really didn't read it particularly carefully; I think my general argument points could have benefitted from a more careful review of the background.

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Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby Gideon Strumpet » Sun May 22, 2011 1:36 am

kalvano wrote:That sounds like directly instructing students to advise clients to break the law.

No. "I think she should disobey the court order" =/= "I would counsel my client to disobey the court order." The same article reports that Liberty Counsel insists they always "counseled Lisa to obey the law." One of the partners in that firm is the guy who taught the class. As a practicing attorney, this guy understands the professional conduct problem with a lawyer advising a client to break the law; hence his (admittedly ham-fisted) attempt to pose the question on the exam as one where a person is advising Lisa as "a friend" and "a Christian."

Despite this clumsy attempt to skirt the issue, as the one professor in the article points out, it sounds like they could have done a lot better job discussing the problems that could come up, and painting a clear line between the professional ethical issues and normative moral questions. Still, it is a "Foundations of the Law" class, not professional responsibility; it's obviously meant to be about normative "foundations" of the law, including sources of law, which obviously Liberty and this guy have some opinions on that aren't shared by most of us.

Either way, nothing they apparently did, however stupid and badly done, amounts to teaching students, as lawyers, to counsel a client to commit a crime.
Last edited by Gideon Strumpet on Sun May 22, 2011 1:39 am, edited 3 times in total.

Curry

Re: Oh... holy sh*t... Liberty Law School actually does this?

Postby Curry » Sun May 22, 2011 1:36 am

Holy fuck, walls of texts.




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