Location: McDonough 156
Date: March 3, 2022

The Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics will be hosting its bi-annual symposium on March 30th. The theme of the symposium is who is (and who is not) being served by legal ethics.


Why This Symposium Matters:

When considering how the legal profession can improve the standard of ethics, scholars often spend a great deal of time focusing on how the model rules can hold lawyers more accountable or how specific provisions can be better enforced. Yet, when scholars discuss improvements to legal ethics, it is not always clear who is supposed to be served by these changes. Without a firm understanding of who legal ethics is currently serving, who it is trying to serve, and most importantly, who legal ethics fails to serve, the profession will be unable to properly address its most fundamental challenges. Therefore, the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics would like to use this symposium to focus on this fundamental question: Who is Being Severed and Who is Not Served by Legal Ethics.


The symposium will consist of two panels:

(1) The Democracy Panel

The Democracy Panel will focus on the role that legal ethics has to play in our democratic process. The discussion is based off of a piece in our symposium issue by Abbe Smith, Cynthia Godsoe, and Ellen Yaroshefsky, entitled Can You Be a Legal Ethics Scholar and Have Guts? which address lawyers’ duty to “self-police” ethical violations within the profession. The panelists will discuss how ethical sanctions interact with free speech, which lawyers are in the best position to report the ethical violations for their collogues, and more.

The panel will be moderated by Rakim Brooks, the president of Alliance for Justice.

Professor Abbe Smith is the Director of the Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic, Co-Director of the E. Barrett Prettyman Fellowship Program, and Professor of Law at Georgetown University. Before joining Georgetown Law, Professor Smith was Deputy Director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School, and a Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law at Harvard. She has authored or co-authored countless books and articles on legal ethics and criminal defense, including her recent book, Guilty People, as well as a piece that will be featured in today’s discussion, Can You Be A Legal Ethics Scholar And Have Guts?

Professor Rebecca Roiphe is a Professor of Law at New York Law School. Before joining New York Law School, Professor Roiphe worked as a prosecutor in Manhattan. She also served as a law clerk for The Honorable Bruce Selya, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Professor Roiphe writes extensively on legal ethics and criminal justice in both academic circles and mainstream media, such as U.S. News, Politico, CNN, and more.

Professor Angela J Davis is a Distinguished Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law. Her work in criminal law and procedure focuses on prosecutorial power and racism in the criminal justice system. Before joining American University, Professor Davis was the director of the D.C. Public Defender Service and law clerk to the Honorable Theodore R. Newman, former Chief Judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals. Professor Davis has authored or co-authored numerous books and articles, including Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor, and many more.


(2) The Access to Justice Panel

The Access to Justice Panel will focus on the Unauthorized Practice of Law Rules and how these rules potentially limit nonlawyers’ ability to provide basic legal advice to clients who can not afford a lawyer. The discussion will center around the recent complaint filed in the federal district court in Manhattan where the party is challenging that the prohibition against non-lawyers providing legal advice is a violation of the First Amendment. This is a unique lawsuit that has the potential to reshape the legal landscape for years to come by making basic legal services both more affordable and more easily accessible by beginning to allow non-lawyers to represent clients in court.

Our panelist for this discussion will include Bruce Green, Eli Wald, and Nora Engstrom. The bios of each of these distinguished scholars can be found below. The panel will be moderated by Rashaud Hannah.

Professor Bruce Green

Bruce A. Green is the Louis Stein Chair at Fordham Law School, where he directs the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics. He teaches and writes primarily in the areas of legal ethics and criminal law, and is involved in various bar association activities. Currently, Professor Green chairs the ABA Criminal Justice Standards Committee and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination drafting committee and is a member and past chair of the NY State Bar Association’s Committee on Professional Ethics. He previously chaired the NYC Bar Association’s Committee on Professional Ethics and the ABA Criminal Justice Section, served on the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, was the Reporter to both the ABA Task Force on Attorney-Client Privilege and the ABA Commission on Multijurisdictional Practice, and co-chaired the ethics committee of the ABA Litigation Section and Criminal Justice Section. Since joining the Fordham faculty in 1987, Professor Green has engaged in various part-time public service, including as a member of the NYC Conflicts of Interest Board, as a member of the attorney disciplinary committee in Manhattan, as Associate Counsel in the office of the Iran/Contra prosecutor, and as a consultant and special investigator for the NYS Commission on Government Integrity. Previously, Professor Green was a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, where he served as Chief Appellate Attorney, and he was a judicial law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall and Circuit Judge James L. Oakes. In May 2018, Professor Green received the Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award, given by the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility.

Professor Eli Wald

Eli Wald is the Charles W. Delaney Jr. Professor of Law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. A legal ethics and legal profession scholar, Wald has written on topics such as increased lawyer mobility, conflict of interests and attorney disqualification, lawyers’ fiduciary duties to clients, the nationalization and globalization of law practice, the challenges facing lawyers representing clients in the emerging marijuana industry and, most recently, in-house lawyers. Professor Wald is a co-author of a leading casebook on the law governing lawyers. His work has appeared in leading journals such as the Fordham, Stanford, University of Colorado and Wisconsin law reviews, and our very own Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics. Wald’s articles have been cited in ABA ethics opinions and excerpted in legal ethics casebooks.

Professor Nora Freeman Engstrom

Nora Freeman Engstrom is a nationally recognized expert in legal ethics.  Much of her work explores the day-to-day operation of the tort system and particularly the tort system’s interaction with alternative compensation mechanisms, such as no-fault automobile insurance, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, and workers’ compensation. Professor Engstrom has also written extensively on trial practice, complex litigation (including MDLs), attorney advertising, alternative litigation finance, contingency fees, tort reform, and law firms she calls “settlement mills”—high-volume personal injury law practices that heavily advertise and mass-produce the resolution of claims.

Professor Engstrom is the Co-Director of the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession and also co-authors a leading professional responsibility casebook, Legal Ethics (with Deborah Rhode, David Luban, and Scott Cummings). Her scholarly work has appeared in a wide array of law journals, including the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, the NYU Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the Georgetown Law Journal, and the Michigan Law Review, among many others.

Professor Engstrom is an elected member of the American Law Institute, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and member of the World Tort Law Society.  She also serves as an elected member of the Executive Committee of the Section on Torts and Compensation Systems of the AALS, and, from 2016 through 2018, she served as Stanford Law School’s Associate Dean for Curriculum.