You can be certain about three things in life: death, taxes, and the fact that Professional Responsibility will appear on the written portion of the California bar exam in 2022.
Professional Responsibility can appear in the following ways:
- On its own.
- In a crossover question (Business Association is a frequent pairing, but any subject is fair game).
- In a performance test.
- Or all of the above.
But don’t worry! Knowing what to expect is the first step to preparing.
To get the most out of your bar exam prep, we recommend you fully write out at least five Professional
Responsibility essays under timed, closed-book conditions and outline several more.
So, where do you start? We have dozens of questions to practice with!
Our bar prep courses will get you ready in no time.
One Dastardly Deed Can Raise Multiple Issues. Go Chronologically!
A typical Professional Responsibility will star an attorney who takes or—in some cases—fails to take numerous actions throughout several paragraphs.
Each action (or inaction) is likely to raise more than one ethical issue.
Unless you are faced with a specific call, such as, “Did Lind Lawyer violate any ethical obligations when she failed to place the settlement money into a client trust account?” your best bet is to go chronologically:
1. Identify each action or inaction.
A prime example would be Lawyer Loves Contractor from February 2016:
Lawyer—who has no experience with construction defect cases—agrees to defend Contractor—with whom she is romantically involved—at half her usual rate if Contractor prospectively agrees not to sue for malpractice. Lawyer also orally agrees to bring a cross-complaint on contingency.
2. Think about each potential violation the action or inaction raises.
For example, in Lawyer Loves Contractor, you would want to raise Conflict of Interest, Representation Despite Conflicts of Interest, the Duty of Competence, Contingency Fee Agreements, and Malpractice Waivers.
3. Address all the possible violations before moving to the next ethical “event.”
This would include distinguishing between the ABA Model Rules of Professional Responsibility and California Rules of Professional Conduct where necessary.
Don’t Waiver on Informed Consent
Remember, a conflict of interest won’t necessarily bar an attorney from representing a client.
If a conflict of interest appears in a Professional Responsibilities essay—and it’s likely to do so because conflicts are a notorious bar examiner favorite—we suggest you take a two-pronged approach.
- First, devote a single IRAC to explaining why a conflict of interest exists.
- Then, include a second IRAC addressing whether the attorney can still proceed with the representation despite the conflict. There must be informed written consent, so both the disclosures and the consent need to be in writing.
Don’t forget to mention the key distinctions between the ABA Model Rules of Professional Responsibility and the California Rules of Professional Conduct.
Be Confident in Raising Competence
A “competent” lawyer wouldn’t violate ethical rules.
So it’s a pretty sure bet that you’ll want to raise the Duty of Competence in almost any Professional Responsibility essay you write—even if there’s no suggestion that the lawyer is newly minted or inexperienced in the practice area.
Just be sure to point out the difference between the ABA Model Rules of Professional Responsibility and the California Rules of Professional Conduct.
Under the ABA Model Rules, a lawyer must act with the legal knowledge, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.
Under the California Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney is subject to discipline if she intentionally, recklessly, or repeatedly fails to perform legal services with competence.
As the language suggests, it’s much easier to violate the ABA Model Rules.
Take On Professional Responsibility Essay Questions with Confidence.
The California bar exam is only a few months away.
So there’s no time to waste when it comes to getting that critical essay practice in.
The last thing you want is to find yourself struggling to identify or write about an issue.
But don’t worry!
With EssayRx, you can sharpen your issue-spotting skills across every topic tested.
With over 30 years of past California bar essays, you can search 330+ subtopics to target the ones you need to practice—including all those pesky Professional Responsibility topics.