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Research the Virginia State Bar website and/or other sites to locate two (2) disciplinary (or civil/criminal) cases: one regarding a lawyer, and one involving a nonlawyer, both in Virginia.  Write a 3-4 page paper summarizing and analyzing the cases given what you’ve learned about legal ethics this term. 

Your paper may be single-, 1.5, or double-spaced, should include page numbers, and a references/bibliography list at the end of your paper on a separate page (does not count toward total page-count); be certain to include citations to any websites you looked to and sources of law (i.e., state or model professional rules of conduct, case law, statutes, etc.), and to utilize appropriate legal citation format.

Identify and discuss the ethical violations addressed in your chosen cases, including the facts surrounding the applicable duty and how such was breached.  Was the legal professional’s breach of ethical duty based on an action/commission or an inaction/omission?  What disciplinary sanction was applied?  For each duty noticed, mention in the body of your paper the appropriate rule of professional conduct, as well as cite separately in your references section.  You may look to either or both Virginia’s or the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct for support.

Also, write about the following: 

  • Did you feel that the ethical violations of the legal professional in one instance was more grievous than the other’s?  How so?
  • Do you agree with the sanctions/discipline applied by the board to each respondent?  Was the discipline sufficient, do you think?  Would you have handled issued a different form of discipline?
  • What could the legal professional have done differently to avoid breaching his/her duty?
  • Does the case note whether the legal professional had prior disciplinary history?  Or whether s/he cooperated with the disciplinary board and proceedings?  Did either of these affect the outcome?  How so?
  • Were you surprised by anything you read about the case?

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