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Monroe, I will continue my speculations by suggesting that if we there is a conflict of the type you suggest, an informed client like GM could choose K&S nonetheless and K&S could choose to do the assignment.
Liz, I assume that the contents are relatively safe, but I was told by a criminal defense specialist that the government scans the face of all hard mail. Can anyone confirm that?
Patrick, there is an ABA rule that is often referred to as a "superior orders" rule. You can find it here: http://www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/publications/model_rules_of_professional_conduct/rule_5_2_responsibilities_of_a_subordinate_lawyer.html
Monroe & Patrick, my attempt to get an accurate description isn't a normative endorsement of overcharging, which I condemn. Btw, a white collar defendant is trying to release to the public the PowerPoint slides the DOJ used when coercing him to settle. Supposedly the slides will starkly illustrate how over-charging works. If the slides are released, I will try to post them here. http://abovethelaw.com/2014/01/unsealing-the-trial-penalty/
Ben, I have the same skepticism as you, but to interpret the court's action most charitably, they might have felt that the employee lawyer was standing in the shoes of the disciplining court and hence the sarcastic tweets impugned the court's legitimacy.
Just as an aside to Doug's statement of the general rule, out here in California, the fee agreement itself can be privileged. Our Business & Professions code provides, "6149. A written fee contract shall be deemed to be a confidential communication within the meaning of subdivision (e) of Section 6068 and of Section 952 of the Evidence Code." Section 952 is our attorney client privilege law. I don't know why California took that approach. Does anyone out there know?
Laurel, do you mind if I elevate your query to a post?
Patrick, I think I'll add one more thought. PR is one of the very few courses that's mandatory at every law school. Yet I've seen lots of lists like Posner's that don't include PR at all. I get the feeling that in certain quarters PR doesn't count as a real course. That's the reason I made this post.
That's a powerful argument against requiring 3Ls to take that sixth semester of law school. (And against the fifth semester, for that matter.)
The logistics would be easy, but the politics would be difficult (impossible?). You’d need info from students and profs. You could start with the profs suggesting what they’d like to teach over the next two years. That document would get published to students, as Berkeley now does (unfortunately, I can’t like to it) at the time that students select courses for the following semester. No doubt, the profs could offer the students good reasons that students should take those particular courses. Students would also seek that kind of input from practicing lawyers, judges, alums, 3Ls, through course evals, etc. When the students select their courses for the semester, they’d also select their probable courses for the following two semesters. Then, someone in administration looks at the gap between student demand and professors’ supply. (At Berkeley, the students analyzed the gap by looking at waitlist data and then debating it online. See link 1 below.) Then the administration closes the gap on the supply side. You might also think up some incentive structure that would drive profs to close the gap themselves, with less administrative strong-arming. For example, if the prof fails to attract a sufficient teaching load—students multiplied by credit hours—the prof must teach legal ethics. (Just kidding about that.) Perhaps the administration declares that profs have four “free choice” teaching credits per year but only if their load hits a certain number. But either way, by administrative fiat or by professorial self-interest, it is student choice that drives the offerings. I suppose that the politics of this suggestion render it a mere thought experiment. It would be a massive transfer of power from profs to students. Students are likely to select courses that vary too far from what profs want to teach. (Again, we could offer profs some protected credits per year to soften the blow.) And I expect that there would be heavy selection for skills courses that the profs might be unable to teach—the kind of courses the new Carnegie Report discusses. But I’d strongly disagree with any suggestion that the students lack sufficient intelligence to choose their courses wisely. Given the ability to choose, information about the utility of the courses, and the motivation of their heavy debt loads, students would make terrific choices. Some of them would still opt for courses like Icelandic Feud Law (a course I wish I could have taken myself). Some of them would continue to take courses in critical jurisprudence, social justice, etc. Link 1: http://boaltalk.blogspot.com/2009/01/who-sets-our-priorities.html#comments