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23 May 2007



Bill -- As a fellow PR teacher, I will be very interested in your experiences with this class. Congratulations and good luck!

david giacalone

Thank you, Bill. Very helpful. I turn to Lowell B. Komie's short-story fiction for the essence of solo practice.

William Henderson


Getting pushed for clarity is a good thing.

Ethnography is a genre of writing explore a social phenomena based on some type of field work. Often it includes both quantitative and qualitative components. When I said "carefully crafted", however, I should have written "carefully edited". We want to use the descriptive component of this research without necessarily focusing on the social science theory and methodology.

For example, in my Law Firms class, I use Jerry Van Hoy's work on franchise law firms, Bryant Garth's and Sara Parikh's work on Phil Corboy (the famous Chicago trial lawyer), Michael Kelley's The Lives of Lawyers, which has lots of vignettes of different practice settings, Lynn Mather et al.'s work on New England divorce lawyers, and Stephen Daniels and Joanne Martin's work on the Texas plaintiffs' bar.

david giacalone

Bill, I have no idea what a "carefully crafted ethnography" might entail. Could you enlighten this barbarian?

Bill Henderson

Rick, Eric, and John raise a interesting point.

It would be hard to operationalize an "ethical lawyering" variable. My own observation, cobbled together from anecdote, is that ethics are a major component of a successful law practice, and perhaps required for longterm happiness in the profession. This course, through involvement of IU alumni, will explicitly ask these questions.

John has been teaching legal ethics and practicing law for many years--his observations above carry a lot of weight with me.

One empirical note: IU Law has participated in LSSSE since it began five years ago, and the LSSSE survey contains quite a few questions pertaining to ethics and personal and professional values. If the theory behind the course is correct, many of our historic numbers should trend up--that is our goal.

Further, LSSSE is set up to facilitate longitudinal studies. So Rick, I may be seeking your advice on a research design. bh.

John Steele

One metric worth tracking is student satisfaction in the course. Anecdotally, I've found that empirical approaches to the required PR course, which help students map out career choices, have much higher satisfaction that doctrinal approaches, moral philosophy approches, etc.

As for whether or not it makes them more ethical, I can't say and out of respect to this blog's empirical approach I won't even speculate. However, I will speculate that the sooner the law student finds the place in the profession that suits her ethical sensibilities, the more satisfying her career.

Eric Goldman

This is great, Bill. Congratulations. Following Rick's Q, do you have any metrics to test the assumptions above and to gauge the efficacy/success of the course? Eric.

Rick Lempert

Has anyone ever studied empirically whether ethics courses in any profession pay off in more ethical conduct by students later in their careers? I would be interested in references to such work if there is any.


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