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Submitted by Clark Cunningham on Tue, 05-16-2017
Long title
The Client Relationship Course - Georgia State University
Teacher(s)/ Author(s)
Cunningham, Clark D.
Teacher(s)'/ Author(s)' contact information
United States
The Client Relationship is a 3 credit course designed and taught by Clark Cunningham at the Georgia State College of Law that satisfies the Professional Responsibility requirement. No textbook is used. The course is administered through a Westlaw TWEN website. All required readings are either handed out in class and/or linked to the on-line syllabus which is updated and posted on TWEN.
The course grade is calculated as follows:
40%: Paper: 6-8 double-spaced pages, due mid-semester (See Learning Objectives, below)
30%: Composite score based on in-class quizzes, assignments, bonus points and class participation (See Firms and Quizzes, below)
30%: Final exam: 2-hour completely closed-book, multiple choice exam (See Exam, below)
In this course students learn how to develop effective and ethical relationships with clients, become competent in recognizing moral dilemmas in the real-life situations encountered by lawyers, and begin to acquire the professional judgment necessary to resolve the kinds of complex problems that arise in legal practice.
Students become skilled in interpreting and applying the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct and will understand the attorney discipline system in Georgia as well as basic common law principles arising from malpractice and attorney disqualification decisions. In order to put student learning in the context of real-life law practice, the course is taught primarily from the standpoint of the Georgia rules and Georgia law. However, students are still well-prepared to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) which tests the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct because significant differences between the Georgia and ABA Model Rules are covered.
Students regularly perform lawyering exercises that develop client relationship skills and ethical decision making. They write one paper that applies what they have learned to analyze videotaped lawyer-client meetings and propose what they would have done in the situation. There are also short in-class quizzes and a two-hour, closed-book multiple-choice final examination.
Development of professional judgment and reflective learning about identity formation are learning objectives. Starting in 2015, Georgia State has administered a questionnaire to entering students that includes questions related to professional identity. See Kendall Kerew, Academic and Career Advisement Form - Georgia State College of Law, available at: . Modified versions of the questionnaire are administered at the beginning and end of this course; see attached copies.
Students are expected to attend every class absent good cause for absence. A student may be required to withdraw from the course without credit based upon repeated absence and/or a pattern of being tardy or leaving early without good cause. If a student is absent or late when a quiz is given, it is the student's responsibility to notify the instructor promptly (and preferably before class) if the student wishes to take the quiz as a make-up; such a student must provide in writing an explanation of the good cause and make arrangements with the instructor to take the quiz, which must normally be completed before the next class. Students are evaluated on their preparation and contribution to firm work and that evaluation will be factored into the composite quiz score for the semester.
CASE STUDIES: The case studies are based on actual cases. Students must be prepared to engage in rigorous class discussion about the details of the cases and to analyze the decisions and actions of the lawyers.
There are a number of in-class role playing exercises. Students must prepare to play an assigned role (lawyer or sometimes a client) for each role play unless they request an alternate assignment on the Student Questionnaire completed for Class One. (An individual student's performance in a role play is not graded.) The paper based on one of these exercises counts as 40% of the final course grade.
On the first day of class students are assigned to a team or "firm" of 4-5 students, through a transparent selection process designed to produce diverse groups of teams. These teams will sit together for all classes. On quiz days, after individual responses are tallied through the response device system ("clickers"), for some questions the instructor set asides time for discussion in the firm after which individual students are able to respond again, and the second answer is counted along with the first. Studies of team-based-learning indicate that effectively functioning teams will usually outperform individual student scores. Other tasks are regularly be assigned for teamwork during class time. The student’s quiz score total for the semester includes bonus points reflecting the quality of the firm’s work on some of these tasks and may include a component based on the quality of one or more peer assessment exercise for the firm.
An important method for learning course content is the system of in-class quizzes, which are usually open-book. Quiz questions are displayed one-at-a-time and answers are provided using a Turning Point Response Card (“clicker”) assigned to the student for the entire semester. Cumulative results for the entire class are immediately displayed after each question. At the instructor’s option, students are given an opportunity to discuss the question in their firms and then take the question again. If this option is taken, both the first and second responses count toward the cumulative semester quiz score. The correct answer, often developed through class discussion, is revealed for each question.
Possible quiz questions are posted in advance of class and linked to the syllabus, although usually there are additional questions in class not posted in advance. Students are permitted to discuss the posted questions before class with other firm members (and other students who have not previously taken this course, Professional Responsibility: Heroes & Villains or Transition to Practice). However, it is an honor code violation to share answers with other firm members or any other student on the first round of a quiz question from the time the quiz question is displayed in the classroom until the answer period has closed.
If a student is absent or late when a quiz is given, it is the student's responsibility to notify the instructor promptly (and preferably before class) if the student wishes to take the quiz as a make-up; such a student must provide in writing an explanation of the good cause and make arrangements with the instructor to take the quiz, which must normally be completed before the next class.
Unless there is a make-up pending, the quiz as given with correct answers indicated and student scores listed anonymously by “clicker id” are usually posted on the course website before the next class.
Appealing Quiz Scores
Firms are provided an opportunity to appeal their scores, challenging the instructor's choice of the correct answer. Grounds for appeal are:
1) A good faith argument that a different answer than the one marked as correct should be counted as correct supported by citation to the assigned readings and other relevant authority that the firm may choose to provide
2) A good faith argument that the question was poorly worded, e.g. vague or ambiguous, such that one or more different answers than the one marked as correct should be counted as correct
3) A good faith argument that the assigned readings did not provide an adequate basis for choosing the correct answer so that one or more different answers than the one marked as correct should be counted as correct
Appeals must be submitted by email or email attachment, by 10am on the Monday following the class when the quiz was given unless a different date and time are specified on the syllabus.
If the instructor grants an appeal, all members of the appealing firm are given credit for that answer (if different than the indicated correct answer) for each time the student answered that question (e.g. for both an initial individual response and then a second response after firm meeting). Scores for students from non-appealing firms remain unchanged. Points are never subtracted as a result of appeals. Successful appeals are usually posted by the instructor on the course website without indicating the name of the firm or student.
An individual student may appeal but must include in the appeal an explanation for why the student has not acted through his or her firm in pursuing an appeal. Appeals filed by firms are more likely to be granted.
Example of quiz appeal:
On a quiz, B was indicated in class as the correct answer.
All members of Firm #1 chose B (initially and after firm meeting
All members of Firms #2 & #3 chose answer A (initially and after firm meeting)
Firm #2 appealed the quiz question arguing that A should also be counted as a correct answer and was successful in the appeal. How will the quiz scores be adjusted?
The scores of members of Firms #1 and #3 will remain the same.
The score of members of Firm #2 will be increased by two points (A will be counted twice as the correct answer)
Because quiz questions are not always posted on the course website the week they were given, especially if there is a possibility that an absent student will request a make-up opportunity, students considering filing an appeal may ask the instructor to send the text of a quiz question by email after class.
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