Professional Responsibility, Ethics Seminar
My section had
The following review was submitted to me anonymously on April 12, 2012:
Professor Duncan is a great professor. She is very good about conveying information to students. There are no computers in this class, but she is able to keep the class engaged and encourage conversation. Her panels (3 students a day) are helpful, and she is demanding, which is great. She makes sure that students read and know the material, and she won't easily let them off the hook. This is what keeps her classes entertaining. She also does a great job of making sure to correct someone who has stated the law wrong, so that other students don't get lost in peer comments.
The only problem with Professor Duncan is that she spends way too much time reviewing from the previous class. Almost 1/3 of each class is devoted to review of the last class, and often the review doesn't contribute anything extra from the prior class. This leads to a waste of time when we could be moving through the material more quickly and cover more subjects. If she cut down on the review time and made sure students asked "but I don't understand" questions during office hours, the class would be much more effective.
no big surprises. The multiple-choice were fair and were representative of the
material taught, but be sure to read them closely...some of the questions it
appeared that there wasn't a right answer, turns out you just had to not think
about the answer in a linear way. The fact pattern was a big “train
wreck” type, with a long fact pattern that contained lots of info.
Subsequent to the
posting of this information Professor Duncan has pointed out to me that some
might misconceive the above reference to her "shotgun approach" (my
term, not hers). This is not to say that your answers shouldn't be
organized, in fact a good way to answer her exam would be to subhead your essay
by potential causes of action, e.g. "Mr. Brown v Ms. Smith - IIED
claim" or "Ms. Smith v Mr. White - negligence claim". All
professors dig that kind of organization and it makes for a more readable
answer. By "shotgun approach" I mean to indicate that the exam covers
a broad spectrum of the topic taught throughout the semester. Update: I
got an email in March 2011 from a current student who suggested I add that
students should expect a policy question on
Outline – Anonymous – Grade B+ - outline based on new book authored
by Duncan and Turner added 03-07-2011
Duncan Torts Outline - anonymous contribution
Duncan Torts 1 Outline (circa 2002) - thanks to Carole Hitt
Duncan Torts 1 Outline (circa 2002) - thanks to Courtney Walsh
Negligence Map (this is a one page flow-chart style diagram that helps explain the elements of a negligence claim, as taught to us by Prof. Duncan)
will tell you that this is an area of the law she's particularly enthusiastic about
- she likes the issues and, of course, the policy questions.
There was a substantial amount of reading given for this class - 40 page casebook assignments. Toward the latter part of the semester the reading schedule was adjusted and trimmed back some, but in the early weeks expect to read a lot. The fact patterns in the ethics cases are often pretty messy - usually multiple law firms, lawyers and clients involved at varying levels - so contrary to popular opinion, you'll probably want to write case briefs.
places heavy emphasis on the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC).
There were practice problems posted online when we took the course,
which are posted with answers from our study group below. These are very
definitely worth talking through yourself for issue
spotting and practice at figuring out which rules and comments apply. As with
Preface to downloadable stuff: Give serious consideration to trying the practice problems yourself before reading our answers, and keep in mind that all they are is someone else's take on the questions - no guarantees that we hit every issue or even that we're right. Also - my outline is written in my shorthand...if I didn't think it would be helpful I wouldn't have posted it, but keep in mind it wasn't written to read like a casebook.
contributed criminal law outline, Grade A [this is a zip file since it
contains several outlines, one per topic] added 12/02/2012
Criminal law outline added 05/09/2012
Index of MRPC with rules emphasized in class highlighted
Fees problems and study group answers
Conflicts problems and study group answers
Miscellaneous problems and study group answers
Carter outline - casebook notes, briefs, etc.
While writing a seminar paper during the (allegedly relaxing) 3L year is not everyone's idea of a good time, it needn't be the chore you probably anticipate, particularly if you choose to take this class. Duncan's ethics seminar was two credits, which translates to a 25 page requirement for your seminar paper, exclusive of footnotes; I had a friend who took a 3 credit seminar class (which means a larger page requirement) and was sorry he didn't opt for a shorter paper. A unique and much appreciated feature of this class is the grading method; your entire grade does not hinge on the single paper you turn in at the end of the semester, rather the available points are spread out over the semester and break down thus:
A. Thesis and
Bibliography — 10%
B. Introduction — 10%
C. First Draft — 10%
D. Class Participation (co-teaching and class discussions) — 10%
E. Oral Presentation of Your Topic — 10%
F. Critiques — 10%
G. Final Paper — 40%
So doing the math, by the time your final paper is due, you've already completed 60% of the class. The class I was in was small (about 13 students I think) and the oral presentations were no biggie, lasting about 20 minutes including fielding questions from other classmembers. The reading was not your typical law school fodder; we read books like "There's no such thing as business ethics" and a book by Alan Dershowitz on his views of ethics in the legal profession. Class discussion is encouraged, and a couple of people will be assigned each class to facilitate the discussion (which is not a big deal, the conversation usually flows well on its own).
"critiques" mentioned above, worth 10%, are written critiques of
other classmembers draft papers; before you give an
oral presentation of your topic to the class, you email out your draft paper.
On the class meeting where your presentation is given, all the other people in
the class will turn in to you (with a copy to
You can pick just about anything as your paper topics, provided it touches on ethics. We had a handful of I.P. law guys in our class who had no trouble finding something to write about, some immigration law folks...there is no shortage of ethics issues, you won't struggle to find something to write about.
Unless there is some specific area of the law you really want to write about, give this seminar class a good look.