The ISBA’s Standing Committee on Government Lawyers has a worthwhile and lofty goal ... a goal of making ethics seminars for government lawyers informative, fun, and interesting. Ethics fun? Interesting? What planet are you from?
It is possible. On May 8, 2009, a cast of star performers including James Chipman, Adam Ghrist, Kathryn Kelly, Lynn Patton, and Whitney Wagner Rosen presented the travails of Sherri Arbatrarie as she was faced with a difficult assignment to write a memorandum when she was not sure how the facts could support the legal position her boss wanted her to take; the confusing situation of Timothy Suarez, who was assigned to represent both an employee and the public body in a newly filed discrimination case; and the dilemma of Don Diligentts, who worked for and was a friend of a high-ranking elected official who asks him for help with a campaign finance issue and is subsequently questioned by an Assistant U.S. Attorney. After each skit, James Grogan, Deputy Administrator and Chief Counsel of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, led the group in a discussion of the potentially applicable Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, particularly in light of the nuances of real life day-to-day practice. The acting was tops, the audience was interactive, and a valuable and fun learning experience was had by all. Participants completing the entire program were rewarded with 4 hours of Professional Responsibility MCLE credit.
So, yes, ethics can be fun and interesting! We are working on all new scenarios faced by government attorneys for future performances. So, stay tuned and join us for our next presentation.