New ethics class gives law students more realistic dilemmas

New ethics class gives law students more realistic dilemmas
Sarah Galer
University of Chicago News Office
August 26, 2009

Like many law students, Brad Humphreys, JD’09, was not eager to take his ethics class, a requirement at all American Bar Association-accredited law schools.

Although the underlying subject is important, in the past such classes have often failed to spark useful discussions.

“People go into it with a certain amount of dread,” Humphreys said. “The concern is that the class won’t represent what actually happens in practice.”

But Humphreys, who soon will begin a clerkship with Judge Pamela Ann Rymer of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, was pleasantly surprised by the Law School’s revamped ethics seminar, “Legal Profession: Shades of Gray,” which launched last fall. The class, an alternative to standard ethics offerings, uses engaging techniques such as having students act out roles drawn from real-life ethical dilemmas.

“It speaks well for the University of Chicago Law School to take something mandatory and experiment with ways to keep it lively and to prevent it from getting stale,” said Humphreys.

David Zarfes, Associate Dean of Corporate & Legal Affairs and Schwartz Lecturer at the Law School, led the effort to transform the seminar, something few other schools have tried. Several have already called Zarfes to inquire about the class’ format and success.


David Zarfes