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VIII. Description of Video/DVD-Based Programs Produced by the Commission

The Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism Presents Guided Videotape Programs with Discussion Materials


The following videotape programs have been developed by the Georgia Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism as teaching tools for continuing legal education presentations in professionalism and legal ethics.  The purpose of the programs is generally to demonstrate that complying with minimum ethical and procedural standards does not make one a "professional."  The problems presented in these programs are designed to give the participants and the facilitators the opportunity for an honest dialogue about difficult decisions lawyers must make every day.

1. "A Day in the Life of a Family Law Practitioner"

This series of vignettes takes a family law practitioner through her day, which includes a meeting with a client, a telephone call from an opposing counsel, a deposition, a mediation conference, and an after-work drink. Along the way, the lawyer encounters problems in professionalism.

These problems raise issues about:

(1) what it means to be "competent;"
(2) where a lawyer draws the line between the interests of others and the interests of her client;
(3) what the lawyer's role is when a client attempts to lie during a deposition;
(4) how the lawyer should deal with incivility of opposing counsel; and
(5) how the lawyer balances the running of a practice and pro bono service.

The vignettes are designed to be useful in a variety of formats with varying time constraints. The scenes can be used in their entirety, alone, or in any combination.

2.  "The Case of the Silent Alarm"   (31:00 minutes)
The Silent Alarm case is based on a burglary of a small construction company office.  The office was equipped with a Sentry Company alarm which apparently did not activate during the burglary.  The owner of GT Construction Company wishes to sue Sentry for damages.  The case pits a small company and small law firm against the resources of a large corporate client and its large firm.  Dilemmas involving the tension between zealous representation and overstepping professionalism bounds permeate the program.  The seven-scene program can be tailored for a two-hour program.  Three individual scenes can be used for a one-hour program.  Among the issues confronted by the lawyers in the videotape are:

  • Responding to a client's insistence on playing "hardball" and on setting strategy
  • Dealing with misleading statements and gestures made by an officer of the corporate client to the corporation's attorney to protect the officer's employment
  • Reacting to mistaken receipt of opposing counsel's written strategy for handling the case
  • Associating counsel to appeal to the ethnic make-up of the jury
  • Dealing with substance abuse by opposing counsel when the consequences of the abuse inure to one's client's benefit
  • Reporting opposing counsel to the bar for ethical violations

3. "Perspectives on Lawyer Professionalism"   (1 hr. 38:00 minutes)
A series of nine videosegments containing commentary from practicing lawyers about the nature of the legal profession in the 1990's, especially with respect to practice in private firms.  The tapes are thus particularly appropriate for firm or corporate in-house CLE programs or firm retreats.  Each videosegment is available on a separate tape, or the entire 9 segment series can be purchased on one tape.  A three-topic grouping can be used for a one-hour program.

Topics: Civility, Clients, Deciding to Become a Lawyer, Discovery, Gender, Law as Business, Public Perceptions of Lawyers, Quality of Life, Service

4. "Rita's Case: The Lawyer as Problem Solver"   (45:00 minutes)
Examines the professionalism theme that good lawyers are good problem solvers by presenting a comparison of two different styles of lawyer counseling in a complex custody case.  A narrator traces the development of the case as the viewers observe interviews with the two lawyers and counseling sessions conducted by them.  Rita is a child abandoned by her drug-addicted mother shortly after her birth.  Her maternal grandmother, with a myriad of problems all her own, obtains, and occasionally relinquishes, custody of Rita.  The lawyers are called in when the Department of Children Services attempts to terminate the grandmother's custody.  This case raises issues that pervade all of lawyering, but the context is sufficiently remote from most practices to give the viewers the distance they will need to think seriously about the role of the lawyer as problem solver and to do so in a way that will be relevant to their own practices regardless of what those practices might be.  Includes cues for stopping tape for discussion, concluding comments.  Designed for a two or three hour program.

5. Ethics and Professionalism in the Pretrial Stages of Criminal Prosecution and Defense: "The Case of the Blue Lagoon Nightclub"  (22:00 minutes)
A hypothetical criminal case involving drug offenses, raising ethics and professionalism issues for both prosecution and defense.  In a series of scenes, each discussed in turn as the story evolves, the owners of a nightclub suspected of being an important stop in the city's drug traffic, consult defense counsel as the police and prosecutors initiate an investigation.  Issues include confidences revealed by and conflicts of interest between defense counsel's clients, the ethics of criminal investigation, the appropriate tone of confrontation and cooperation between prosecution and defense, and the ethical responsibility for candor at the time of plea bargain.  The program is intended to provoke discussion both among and between prosecutors and defense lawyers about their professional roles in the criminal justice process.  Tape plus discussion can be tailored for a one or two hour program.