Nobody Told Me There'd be Days Like This: Stress, Pressure, and Ethical Decision-Making in the Practice of Law

By Michael Kahn and Chris Osborn
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Key Takeaways

  • Learn how to guard against ethical missteps by better understanding the complex interplay of various factors that can contribute to them
  • Explore the roles of stress, core values, organizational “culture,” and cumulative choices in the ethical decision-making process
  • Gain practical, concrete guidance on how to manage one’s practice so as to better navigate the inevitable tension between personal and professional pressures
  • Implement best practices for setting and managing client expectations (particularly with regard to workload, the need for the client’s cooperation, expected costs, and the range of possible outcomes in the litigation process)
  • Identify and implement sustainable strategies for minimizing the negative effects of stress and pressure in the practice of law

Course Overview

Most serious legal malpractice claims and successful bar disciplinary actions are brought not for debatable violations of arcane, ambiguous, provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct, but, in fact, for clear breaches of obvious, well-defined ethical obligations. (Don’t take money from the client trust account. Keep clients reasonably informed about the progress of a case or a transaction—even when it’s bad news. Don’t sleep with the attractive domestic client you are representing in an ongoing divorce proceeding. Be candid with the court., etc..) It’s not rocket science—in fact, anyone who has sat in on a basic Professional Responsibility class would know such conduct is ethically problematic. And yet it happens. A lot. Even to our own friends and colleagues at the bar.

This engaging, highly interactive program provides a fresh and practical perspective on the fundamental question, “Why do ‘good’ lawyers ‘go bad’?” Vignettes from a brand new original short film, written and co-produced by ReelTime CLE founders Michael Kahn and Chris Osborn, serve as the catalyst for a practical and informative consideration of the intersection of ethical decision-making and the manifold sources of stress encountered by lawyers in managing the day-to-day practice of law.

Publication Date: July 19, 2016

Length: 2hrs 2min

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Meet the Presenter(s):

Michael Kahn
Michael Kahn holds a J.D. from the Dickinson School of Law, and practiced law with the Attorney General’s Office for the State of New Jersey for 6 years. Although he left the practice of law in 1991, his work thereafter has kept him involved in the lives of attorneys in various capacities. Following a stint as Assistant Director of Career Services with the Tulane University School of Law, Michael obtained his M. Ed. in Counseling from UNC- Greensboro in 1994, and shortly thereafter became a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of North Carolina. Michael’s areas of focus in his psychotherapy practice have included anxiety, depression, grief/loss, career satisfaction, and men's issues, and he has worked with adolescents and adults in individual and group therapy settings. More...
Chris Osborn
In addition to his ongoing work with ReelTime CLE, Chris Osborn is the founding principal of Osborn Conflict Resolution, which provides Superior Court mediation, pre-litigation conflict coaching and dispute resolution, and Christian conflict conciliation services throughout North Carolina. Chris has been certified by the N.C. Dispute Resolution Commission as a Superior Court mediator since 2009, and has assisted the vast majority of his legal clients over the years to reach amicable resolutions in a wide variety of litigation matters. From 2012-2015, Chris served as an Assistant Professor at the Charlotte School of Law, where he taught “Interviewing, Client Counseling, and Negotiations,” Civil Procedure, Contracts, and “Problems in Practice: Commercial Transactions.” While in academia, Chris’ scholarly research focused on ethics and professional responsibility, and particularly the interrelationship of both with mental health and substance abuse issues. More...

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