Projects and Events

Complex Litigation Project

Legal ethics, broadly understood, includes attention to the structure of the legal profession. A crucial and cutting edge issue relevant to that structure is how complex litigation is organized. The Center is currently undertaking research regarding the special ethical rules that apply to class action attorneys. The Center also has sponsored various symposia relating to complex litigation, particularly in the field of antitrust class actions. Symposium: Lawyers, Drugs & Money: A Prescription for Antitrust Enforcement in the Pharmaceutical Industry (event held September 25, 2009, with C. Scott Hemphill of Columbia Law School delivering the keynote address); Symposium: The Uncertain Future of Antitrust: Responding to the Antitrust Modernization Commission, 40 U.S.F. L. Rev. 561 (2006) (event held in fall 2005) (participants included Commissioner W. Stephen Cannon, Professors Stephen Calkins, Herbert Hovenkamp, and Robert Lande, and assistant attorneys general Kathleen Foote (California) and J. Thomas Prud’homme (Texas)); Symposium: Soaring Prices for Prescription Drugs – Incentive for Innovations or Antitrust Violations?, 39 U.S.F. L. Rev. 1 (2004) (event held in fall 2004) (participants included Professors Herbert Hovenkamp, Mark Lemley, James Langenfeld, and Cris Leffler). Also related to this topic is the symposium the Director organized on the legitimacy of pre-dispute mandatory arbitration clauses. See Symposium: Mandatory Arbitration Clauses, 38 U.S.F. L. Rev. 1 (2003) (event held in fall 2003) (participants included Professors Jay Folberg, Jean Sternlight, Stephen Ware, and David Schwartz).

Along similar lines, the Director has proposed and is promoting a new form of arbitration, called Expected Value Arbitration (“EVA”), that would be particularly appropriate for sophisticated litigants. For a description of EVA see Joshua P. Davis, Expected Value Arbitration, 57 Okla. L. Rev. 47 (2004). The Center’s Director on two occasions presented the idea of EVA to JAMS, a national center for dispute resolution with its headquarters located in San Francisco. JAMS expressed a willingness to preside over EVA. The Director will be presenting the idea of EVA at the annual meeting of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution in January, 2008, with those in attendance as possible participants in the process.

Holistic Education Project

The Center’s approach to legal education is both traditional and innovative. As to tradition, the Center participates in the development of the ethics curriculum at the law school from orientation to Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility classes to ethics components in other courses, such as the Intensive Advocacy Program. The Director also organized a symposium focusing on teaching values in legal education. See Symposium: Teaching Values in Law School, 36 U.S.F. L. Rev. 591 (2002) (participants included Professors Christopher Eisgruber, Joshua Rosenberg, Paul Tremblay, and W. Bradley Wendel). The Center has brought in speakers to address students about the options in practicing law, focusing recently on successful women litigators in the hope of providing role models to USF students. Two such speakers were: Jessica Grant, then a partner at Furth Lehmann & Grant, who successfully tried a wage and hour class action against Wal-Mart winning an award of $172 million; and Lori Andrus, a partner at Andrus Liberty & Anderson, LLP, who recently formed her own law firm.

The Center also recognizes that whether lawyers are ethical depends not only on their professional education, but on their psychological well-being, their capacity for empathy, and their ability to cope with the stress and demands of practicing law. The Center thus supports a holistic approach to legal education. The notion is that if law school attends to all aspects of a student—not just to a narrow range of lawyering skills—not only will students be better educated, but they are more likely to be happy, ethical attorneys. One effort toward this end is to develop the emotional intelligence of students and, in particular, their capacity to understand and empathize with perspectives different from their own. Thus, the Center supports the work of Prof. Josh Rosenberg, who teaches a class on interpersonal dynamics designed to develop these skills. The class is modeled on a similar and very popular class at Stanford Business School. Among the many benefits to law students and lawyers of learning about interpersonal dynamics is that they may be better able to understand what other people want and need and more able and motivated to treat others in a respectful and ethical manner.

The Center’s concern with holistic education has also supported the work of Professors Rhonda Magee, Tim Iglesias, and Judi Cohen, members of the law school’s Ad Hoc Committee for Contemplative Practices in Law (the “Mindfulness Committee”). The Mindfulness Committee explores various practices—meditation, yoga, and the like—that can facilitate introspection by law students and lawyers and thereby allow them to make more thoughtful and conscious decisions, including how to act in an ethical manner. Professors Magee, Iglesias, and Cohen have also taught a class on Contemplative Lawyering.

The inaugural speaker about mindfulness in the practice of law was Charles Halpern, currently a Scholar in Residence at Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley, and a former law school dean, professor at Stanford and Georgetown, and a co-founder of various public interest centers. He spoke about “Finding Meaning in a Life in Law.” Professor Rhonda Magee also addressed the USF law faculty about the potential role of mindfulness in dealing with issues of racial bias, particularly in the classroom. Further, speakers are welcomed to address our community on mindfulness and the law. Most recently, John McShane presented The Passionate Practitioner: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in a Successful Law Practice Through Gratitude, Meditation & Prayer (February 8, 2010).

Practicing Bar Project

The Center engages with the practicing bar, providing education to practitioners and contributing to reform of the ethical rules and other laws governing lawyers. The Center co-sponsored a panel entitled, Inadvertent Disclosure: An Attorney’s Ethical Obligations at the Annual Meeting of the State Bar of California in September, 2007. The Center also hosted and co-organized the annual meeting of the State Bar’s Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct (COPRAC), a standing committee of the California State Bar Board of Governor’s that issues advisory ethical opinions. The Center also organized a discussion of the proposed revision of the California’s ethical rules for attorneys with Paul Vapnek and Mark Tuft, two Co-Vice-Chairs of Commission for the Revision of the California Rules of Professional Conduct, at which the Center’s Director served as a moderator. Along similar lines, the Center’s Director served as the Reporter for the Task Force and then the Implementation Committee that drafted the California Supreme Court Rules governing multi-jurisdictional practice, that is, the practice of law in California by out-of-state attorneys.


Upcoming Events

Past Events

2/27/15 – After Actavis: Litigating Reverse Payment Cases

4 MCLE Credits

This symposium will address the many questions raised about the future of litigating reverse payment cases in the post-Actavis landscape. Since the landmark United States Supreme Court decision in FTC v. Actavis, Inc., courts use the rule of reason to scrutinize payments from brand drug companies to generic drug companies in settling patent infringement cases. But how should they do so? What must plaintiffs show to invoke Actavis, what must they prove once they have done so, and what must defendants show to avoid liability? How, if at all, does state antitrust law vary from federal antitrust law?

This event is co-sponsored by the USF School of Law; the USF Center for Law and Ethics; Rutgers School of Law – Camden; American Antitrust Institute; Berger & Montague, P.C.; Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP; Hagens Berman Sobol & Shapiro LLP; Hilliard & Shadowen LLP; Heins, Mills & Olson P.L.C.; Kenny Nachwalter P.A.; Linda Nussbaum,Esq.; Radice Law Firm P.C.; Joseph R. Saveri Law Firm; Taus Cebulash & Landau LLP; Wexler Wallace LLP; and Rust Consulting.

3/11/13 Mississippi to San Francisco: The Law in the Life of Lindbergh Porter, Jr.

Lindbergh Porter, Jr. in Conversation with Joshua P. Davis: 

Porter, a highly esteemed graduate of the USF School of Law, practices in wage and hour, discrimination, and wrongful termination litigation, both on an individual and a class basis. His career has been marked by not only his extraordinary talent as a trial lawyer and litigator but also by the contributions he has made to the community and by his professionalism and personal integrity. He will discuss his life growing up in segregated Mississippi, how he came to San Francisco, and some lessons he has learned over the course of his career, including effective and ethical practice of law.

Co-sponsored by the Black Law Students Association and the Labor and Employment Law Students Association

4/14/11 – A Public Defender’s Path to the Bench

The Honorable Linda Colfax, Superior Court Judge for the City and County of San Francisco

Judge Colfax will talk about her work as a Public Defender, her decision to seek a judicial appointment, her learning—somewhat to her surprise—that Public Defenders are rarely appointed to the bench, and her decision to run for election to a judicial office (successfully). She will also talk about balancing family life and work life as a lawyer and as a judge.

This event is co-sponsored by:
Criminal Law Society, Jewish Law Students Association, Pride Law Association, and Women’s Law Association

4/7/11 - Bill Lerach: A Life Enforcing the Securities Laws – Mountains Climbed and Mistakes Made

Mr. Lerach discussed his legal career enforcing the federal securities laws against large public corporations, Wall Street banks, and the big accounting firms. Over the course of almost 30 years, he was involved in most of the largest securities class-action lawsuits in history. His suits recovered over $40 billion for damaged investors, including a $7 billion recovery in the Enron securities litigation, the largest securities class action recovery to date. He will discuss the evolution of securities suits both before and after the so-called 1995 Reform Act, the rise of institutional investors as lead plaintiffs in securities litigation, the growing hostility of the federal courts toward private enforcement lawsuits, including the virtual elimination of third-party liability, and the events that led to his incarceration and disbarment as a result of an investigation of his firm's practices by the Bush Administration's Justice Department.

10/30/10 – Symposium: Litigation, Settlement & the Public Interest: Fluid Recovery & Cy Pres Relief.

This symposium, co-hosted with the Public Health Trust and the American Antitrust Institute, discussed these doctrines which involve the distribution of relief in a class action to someone other than the victims of alleged wrongdoing, often to a public interest cause related to the underlying litigation. Speakers examined the topic from the perspectives of judges, lawyers, and recipients and administrators of cy pres relief. The keynote address was provided by Professor Geoffrey Hazard, University of California, Hastings.

9/25/10 – ABOTA Civility Matters!

The Center welcomed back a panel of attorneys and judges to discuss civility and professionalism. This year’s panelists included:

John Bates
Attorney, JAMS, the Resolution Experts

Thomas J. Brandi
Attorney, The Brandi Law Firm

Joseph McMonigle
Attorney, Long & Levit LLP

The Honorable John Kennedy Stewart
Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco

4/8/10 - Circle of Greed: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Lawyer Who Brought Corporate America to its Knees.

Patrick Dillon is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, author and editor. He discussed his new book, Circle of Greed, on his recent visit to USF.

Circle of Greed is the epic story of the rise and fall of Bill Lerach, once the leading class action lawyer in America and now a convicted felon. For more than two decades, Lerach threatened, shook down and sued top Fortune 500 companies, including Disney, Apple, Time Warner, and—most famously—Enron. Now, the man who brought corporate moguls to their knees has fallen prey to the same corrupt impulses of his enemies, and is paying the price by serving time in federal prison.

If there was ever a modern Greek tragedy about a man and his times, about corporate arrogance and illusions and the scorched-earth tactics to not only counteract corporate America but to beat it at its own game, Bill Lerach's story is it.

1/30/09 - Discussion of the Revision of the California Rules of Professional Conduct

MCLE Ethics 2 Credits

On Friday, Jan. 30, 2009, the Center sponsored and organized a discussion of proposals to change the California Rules of Professional Conduct. The two Co-Vice-Chairs addressed the proposals of the Commission for the Revision of the Rules of Professional Conduct and solicited the views of audience members.

1/27/09 – ABOTA Civility Matters!

Are some lawyers taking the “civil” out of civil law? Some observers think that incivility among lawyers is on the rise. Can a lawyer give his or her client excellent representation without behavior that is hostile, rude or downright mean?

A panel of members of The American Board of Trial Advocates, together with a San Francisco Superior Court Judge, all USF alumni, will discuss and give examples of civility, incivility and solutions to real life situations as part of an effort to support advocacy with professionalism.

5/27/08: – Ethics in Litigation Panel | Intensive Advocacy Program

The Intensive Advocacy Program is a two-week intensive course, focusing on litigation and trial techniques and strategies. The IAP brings seasoned lawyers and judges from across the nation to train law students in the art of advocacy.

5/3/08 – 12th Annual Statewide Ethics Symposium Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct Notoriety

The symposium featured a keynote address by Professor Geoffrey Hazard, Thomas E. Miller Distinguished Professor of Law – Hastings College of the Law.

10/16/07 – Making Waves and Riding the Currents: Activism and the Practice of Wisdom

Charles Halpern – a public interest entrepreneur, innovator in legal education, and pioneer in the public interest law movement – is currently Scholar in Residence at Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley. He was the Founding Dean of the City University of New York Law School at Queens College. Previously, he was a Professor at Stanford and Georgetown Law Schools, and a Senior Fellow at Yale Law School. He was the co-founder of the Center for Law and Social Policy (1969), the Mental Health Law Project (now the Bazelon Center for Law and Mental Health) (1971), and the Council for Public Interest Law (now the Alliance for Justice) (1976). After graduating with honors from Yale Law School and Harvard College, he practiced law at Arnold & Porter, in Washington, D.C.

From 1989-2000, he served as the founding President of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, a $400 million grant-making foundation in New York City. He developed many innovative philanthropic initiatives, including Healing and the Mind with Bill Moyers and interfaith dialogue with the Dalai Lama and religious leaders.

Halpern, who recently co-led a mindfulness meditation retreat for over 100 California state court judges, has practiced meditation for the past 20 years with a variety of Buddhist teachers and leads meditation workshops for lawyers, judges and law students. For the past four years, he has led the Boalt Hall Meditation Group, the oldest Law School meditation group. He serves as the chair of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society.

9/30/07 – State Bar Panel | Inadvertent Disclosure: An Attorney’s Ethical Obligations

Panel talk at the 80th Annual Meeting of the State Bar of California in Anaheim.

9/20/07 – Doing Well by Doing Good in a Plaintiffs’ Practice

Lori Andrus, Andrus Liberty & Anderson, LLP

Ms. Andrus discussed battling corporate greed and misconduct on behalf of their clients.

When CEOs choose profits over people, and when credit card companies prey upon the most vulnerable in our society, the civil justice system remains as the last protector. After the legislatures, and then the regulators fail, plaintiffs’ attorneys hold wrongdoers accountable.

5/29/07 – Ethics in Litigation Panel | Intensive Advocacy Program

The Intensive Advocacy Program is a two-week intensive course, focusing on litigation and trial techniques and strategies. The IAP brings seasoned lawyers and judges from across the nation to train law students in the art of advocacy.

3/29/07 – A Report from the Front Lines: A Successful Class Action Trial Against Wal-Mart

Jessica Grant, USF Alumna and recently named a 2007 “California Attorney of the Year” by California Lawyer Magazine, discussed her work in the precedent-setting wage and hour class action suit, Savaglio et. al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., et. al., where a jury verdict of $172 million was obtained as well as a permanent injunction against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

4/8/04 – What Does the DOJ Have Against Jesselyn Radack?

A discussion with the former DOJ attorney who advised the government to honor John Walker Lindh’s legal rights.

4/16/03 – Ethics and War: Unethical Government Conduct in the Name of National Security

Professor Kathleen Clark is one of the most innovative Legal Ethics teachers in the country, and a nationally recognized expert on ethics and national security issues. In addition to post-9/11 constitutional restrictions imposed by the current administration, she addressed a historical pattern of misconduct in high profile national security cases, including:

  • Korematsu and Japanese internment cases
  • Ellsberg and the Pentagon papers case
  • Reynolds and the law of state secrets, and
  • Quinn and the prosecution of WW II German saboteurs

Professor Clark argued that the government’s tendency toward misconduct in such cases means that courts should not give such extreme deference to the executive branch in these situations.

1/16/03 – Whistleblower: A Story of Courage and Survival

Attorney Cindy Ossias is responsible for blowing the whistle on the illegal activities of former State Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush. Her story was featured on NBC's Dateline.

Ms. Ossias described her own story, including the investigation into her own conduct. She discussed the risks involved for a lawyer/whistleblower, and how the law could be reformed to protect lawyers who feel compelled to act for the public good.

4/16/02 – Doctors, the Law, and the Ethics of Death

Professor Zitrin discussed ethical issues relating to the physician’s role in death penalty cases, involuntary medication of mentally ill prisoners, making life and death decisions for the gravely ill, and other legal conflicts.

2/01/02 - Written Symposium

In conjunction with the USF Law Review, the Center for Applied Legal Ethics (now know as the Center for Law and Ethics) hosted a written symposium on teaching values in law school. Each of the four major contributors to this Symposium—Chris Eisgruber, Josh Rosenberg, Paul Tremblay, and Brad Wendel—grappled with a fundamental challenge for legal ethics: whether and how to teach values to students. Given the emphasis in law schools on remaining open to differing perspectives rather than arriving at orthodoxy and on engaging in intellectual exploration rather than inculcating values, that challenge is formidable. The scholars’ responses to that challenge appeared in 36 U.S.F. L. Rev. (2002).