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Be Careful What Yoo Wish For!

The DOJ is drafting a report investigating if Bush administration lawyers based their legal opinions on the legality of interrogation methods on the need to please the White House.  For those of you not familiar with the legal profession, contrary to what you see on TV, lawyers are not supposed to advise their clients to knowingly break the law.

Many do not like John Yoo’s opinions but still support his right to teach  under the principal of “academic freedom.”  If John Yoo is found to have violated standards of professional responsibility by advising his client to knowingly break the law, should he still be allowed to teach?  

One opinion is that Yoo should not teach if he is found to have violated the professional standards of the legal profession. If you believe that the teacher must set the standard and be the example, then you could agree with this.

Another opinion is that Yoo should continue to teach. If anything, he should teach legal ethics or be the subject of legal ethics cases for student discussion.  At Loyola Marymount Law School, Karl Manheim used “The Practice”, which starred his sister, Camryn Manheim, as weekly discussion material in his legal ethics classes.  Each episode presented a buffet of discussion choices. Prof. Manheim wanted to keep students engaged and thinking about the subject of legal ethics.  He found a way using a TV show about lawyers.

Chapman may have found a way to keep students engaged and thinking about legal ethics by  hiring John Yoo.  Like Prof. Manheim, Dean Eastman may find that he too now has a buffet of legal ethics discussion subjects to offer his students.  Let’s all hope that Yoo’s visit is used as a teaching opportunity for all involved.