T C 357 • Lawyers, Ethics, and Justice
3:30 PM-6:30 PM
This seminar will examine aspects of the American legal system and how it addresses issues of justice. We will explore the relationship of law and values through a prism of the role that lawyers play in the legal system. We will examine ethical dilemmas that lawyers encounter in representing clients, as well as broader issues of ethics in public affairs and professional work. The particular topics vary from year to year and may include equality and affirmative action, compensation to victims of terrorists attacks on 9/11, the war on terrorism, deception and lying, environmental justice, and recent corporate frauds and crimes related to Enron, Arthur Andersen, and Tyco. Issues of personal ethics, justice, and role morality are relevant to all fields of work and to a liberal arts education. Accordingly, this seminar is designed for students of all majors, as well as those who might be considering law school. Some of the questions we will explore include: What values underlie the legal system in the United States? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this legal system? How are ethical dilemmas addressed in our legal system? What are the limitations of any legal system? Does professional role identification (e.g., a journalist, physician, business executive, lawyer, or scientist) erode moral sensitivity? What does it mean to act morally or ethically? How do you analyze an ethical issue? The last six weeks of the seminar will be devoted to small group research projects on current topics. The research projects change each semester. Examples of past semester group research projects include: capital punishment and the impact of DNA testing on the criminal justice system; trials of persons accused of terrorist crimes; and the collapse of Enron. The group research includes a written and oral report.
About the professor: Amon Burton teaches legal ethics at The University of Texas School of Law. In 1996, he served as a visiting lecturer in legal ethics at Cornell Law School. He also practices in Austin in the areas of corporate law and professional liability law. He is a member of the national committee that drafts the professional ethics examination required to obtain a law license. His avocations include cycling, photography, and travel.
45% Several short essays and other writing assignments 40% Group research project; requirements include an outline, research paper and oral presentation to the class 15% class participation No final examination
Burton and Dzienkowski's Case Studies of Lawyers' Ethical Dilemmas Sherron Watkins and Mimi Swartz, Power Failure: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Enron Jonathan Harr, A Civil Action Sissela Bok, Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life Articles from magazines.