Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Introduction to the Legal Profession - Second Writing Assignment

Below is the second essay assignment for the Introduction to the Legal Profession course, which is based on the play that we saw last week.

The essay is due on Wednesday, October 12 by 10:00 a.m. Hand in a hard copy of your essay to LeAnn Baie in the faculty secretaries’ office. Please format your essays, using standard paragraphing, and double-space throughout. Put your word count at the top of your paper near your name. You will have a conference with Dr. Porterfield on this paper after she edits it. She will send an email to you, letting you know when she has posted the sign-up sheets. Remember to bring two copies of the EDITED paper with you to the conference.


“Inferences are not the same as facts.” Because this line was said twice in the play Defamation, we can infer that the author, by repeating the phrase, meant to make a point. If we define a fact to be that which is verifiable as well as that which is held to be “true” by a majority of people at a given time and an inference to be how one interprets a fact, then we can see that how one understands a fact, i.e., how one views its significance in context, is crucial. We can also recognize, then, that the identity of the person who does the interpreting of the facts (that is, their race, gender, class, religious affiliation, age) may be crucial as well.

For example, in the play, the attorneys for both the plaintiff and the defendant established the facts of the case and then proceeded to draw conclusions (to infer) based on those facts. Their inferences were synonymous with their arguments.

If we acknowledge that identity plays a role in how we all interpret the facts of a situation, what is an attorney’s professional responsibility, when arguing a case, in terms of understanding or managing her own biases?

Please write an approximately 400-word essay on this question. If you find the passage below from the American Bar Association's Rules of Professional Conduct to be helpful in forming your answer, please feel to consult it.

Maintaining The Integrity Of The Profession
Rule 8.4 Misconduct
It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:
(g) engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law....This paragraph does not preclude legitimate advice or advocacy consistent with these Rules.