Volume 34

Teaching Conflicts of Interest

by Emily Hughes

Analyzing conflicts of interest is a critical part of the daily life of a lawyer, although the urgency and complexity of conflicts are difficult to teach in a meaningful way. After teaching conflicts to law students enrolled in Professional Responsibility courses and discussing conflicts with lawyers in ethics presentations, the author has developed a method for teaching conflicts of interest that is accessible and (hopefully) memorable. This Article presents that method. By using an evolving fact pattern as the analytical lens for studying conflicts, students learn how conflicts emerge, converge, and diverge as facts develop. Beginning with a personal injury accident that causes a married couple to seek legal advice, the narrative progresses through predictable—and unpredictable—turns. As the narrative evolves, so do the conflicts. By learning conflicts through a focused and evolving lens, law students better understand the complexity of conflicts of interest analysis.

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