2006 Workshop

December 15, 2006 - 3:30pm to December 17, 2006 - 12:00pm


Fellows, speakers and discussants were encouraged to:

  • Review the 20 minute webcast on the Signet Accreditation program in Scotland which is the model for the Tennessee pilot project for professional proficiency training. You can view this webcast at: http://law.gsu.edu/Communication/Signet.htm
  • Read the short article by Professor Lisle Baker, "Enhancing Professional Competence and Legal Excellence Through Teaching Law Practice Management," 40 Journal of Legal Education 375 (1990). Professor Baker had originally planned to participate in the workshop.

OPM Exercise. This exercise, originally designed for use in Professional Responsibility: Heroes & Villains at at GSU, was discussed during Session 2 on Saturday morning through viewing a videotape of two students conducting this simulation.  You may view the 4 page PDF file here.

 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.  Opening Session 
9:30-11:00 a.m. Session 1: Pilot Project for Professional Proficiency Testing 
(see description below)
11:15-12:30 p.m. Session 2: Teaching Demonstration: The OPM Client Meeting Exercise
2:00-3:00 p.m. Session 3: The Practice of Law as a Business: Not a Bad Thing? 
(see description below)
3:15-4:30 p.m. Session 4: Teaching Ethics and Professionalism as Part of a Course on Fundamentals of Law Practice
 (see description below)
8:15-10:00 a.m. Closing plenary
10:00-12:00 p.m. Working group meetings

Session Descriptions

Pilot Project for Professional Proficiency Testing
The Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization is considering a pilot project to develop realistic, in-context proficiency examinations for practicing lawyers, with a particular focus on client communications, ethical decision making, and law practice management. The first application of such tests would be a new series of intensive and demanding CLE programs, perhaps specifically designed for in-house lawyers at large corporations; these lawyers would be at the 4-6 year point in practice, getting ready to handle major matters without supervision and to supervise others. This pilot is inspired by the example of the innovative Signet Accreditation program being launched in Scotland by the Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet, an independent membership organization for lawyers which is one of the oldest professional bodies in the world. More information on the Signet Accreditation program is available at: http://law.gsu.edu/Communication/Signet.htm Session 1 on Saturday was led by David Shearon, Executive Director of the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization, and NIFTEP Director Clark Cunningham, who is serving as an academic consultant on the Signet Accreditation program.

The Practice of Law as a Business: Not a Bad Thing?
This session was led by Professor Timothy Mahoney, PhD, CPA, CFA, who teaches philosophy and business ethics at Providence College in Rhode Island. Professor Mahoney explored how models of good business practice might address some of the most pervasive problems of ethics and professionalism in the legal profession. He developed this theme during his session at the Inaugural NIFTEP Workshop in September 2005 and expanded it as a NIFTEP presenter at the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Conference on New Ideas for Law Teachers held in Vancouver in June 2006. He was joined by Steve Olson, Associate Director of the Southern Institute for Business & Professional Ethics at Georgia State University.

Teaching Ethics and Professionalism as Part of a Course on Fundamentals of Law Practice
One of many innovative ideas discussed at the 2005 Inaugural Workshop was to integrate the teaching of ethics and professionalism into a type of education urgently needed in the law school curriculum – a course on the fundamentals of law practice, especially in the context of setting up and managing a small or solo law firm. This topic garnered considerable discussion at the NIFTEP session at the AALS Conference on New Ideas for Law Teachers and also has connections with enhanced bridge-the-gap and mentoring programs for new lawyers (see. e.g. http://www.gabar.org/programs/transition_into_law_practice_program/)  and alternate routes to licensing such as the Webster Scholars program being piloted in New Hampshire (see http://law.gsu.edu/ccunningham/PDF/BarExaminer-Nov05-Cunningham.pdf )

These three topics were selected for the 2006 NIFTEP Workshop because they are timely, they provide common ground for discussion among academics and the practicing bar, and they all represent “out of the box” thinking about ways to promote ethics and professionalism.


Heidi Li Feldman
Professor of Law
Georgetown University Law Center
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Georgetown University

Roberta (Bobbi) K. Flowers
Stetson College of Law

Thomas C. Grella
McGuire, Wood & Bissette, P.A.

Peter Joy
Washington University School of Law

Michael Kuhn
Bracewell Giuliani LLP

Denise Platfoot Lacey
Commission on Professionalism

Reed Elizabeth Loder
Vermont Law School

Paul Paton
Faculty of Law, Queen's University

Josh Perry
Vanderbilt University

Barbara M. Seymour
Office of Disciplinary Counsel
South Carolina Supreme Court

Sylvia E. Stevens
General Counsel
Oregon State Bar

Justin P. Wilson
Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis

Melvin F. Wright, Jr.
Executive Director
North Carolina Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism

Speakers and Discussants

Doug Ashworth
State Bar of Georgia Transition Into Law Practice Program

John T. Berry
Legal Division Director
The Florida Bar

Clark Cunningham
W. Lee Burge Professor of Law and Ethics
Georgia State University College of Law

Avarita L. Hanson
Executive Director
Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism

Tim Mahoney
Providence College

Patrick Longan
William Augustus Bootle Chair in Ethics and Professionalism
Walter F. George School of Law
Mercer University

Ellwood F. (Ebb) Oakley, III
Associate Professor of Legal Studies
J. Mack Robinson College of Business
Georgia State University

Steve Olson
Associate Director of Southern Institute for Business and Professional Ethics
J. Mack Robinson College of Business
Georgia State University

David N. Shearon
Executive Director
Tennessee Commission on continuing Legal Education and Specialization

Jim O. Stuckey II
American Bar Association Standing Committee on Professionalism

Robert M. Wilcox
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
University of South Carolina School of Law