Ethics of Law Teaching
Marvin E. Frankel
Judge United States District Court
As Dr. Rosenzweig's paper reminds us, the law schools' concern with legal ethics is indeed the center of much talk and debate these days. One might suppose this would always have been so. Felix Cohen wrote over 40 years ago: "every final valuation of law involves an ethical judgment." 1 Lawyers, whether they know it or not, are — like Molière's gentleman — doing ethics all the time. It might be expected that the supposed academic experts in the administration of norms and normative judgments would be deeply and steadily concerned with their own ethical questions. But the fact, at least until the last decade or so, has been otherwise.
Legal scholars have tended, as Cohen also observed, to shun explicit dealings with ethics. 2 Ethical questions were not discussed much in studying and evaluating either substantive or procedural law problems. The same, until lately, was true for the subject of a lawyer's ethics, or professional responsibility as it is commonly called these days.
The attitudes of the legal academy toward this subject have included an interesting mixture of disdain and conformity. The specific, announced rules of legal ethics — especially as embodied in the bar's Canons of Ethics (as they were known until the 1970 revision published as the Code of Professional Responsibility) — tended to be beneath scholarly notice. Courses in legal ethics were totally absent from the curricula of many great schools. When they were taught, more often