Drawing the Line — Ethical Advocacy

Where is the line drawn — what is the best practice — between zealous and ethical advocacy?
This question arose during this year’s immigration clinic, as we represented a juvenile from Central America. She was eligible to apply for legal residence pursuant to federal law, but first needed a Probate/Family Court order that, among other things, declared that she needed the protection of the Court. But before we got into court, our client got pregnant. Technically still entitled to the ruling, we nonetheless decided to wait until she gave birth. After the birth, she moved out from her mother and in with her boyfriend. At that point, theoretically still eligible for the Probate Court order, did she remain a minor in need of the Court’s protection? Or was she now a mother herself who needed to protect her own child? What might Congress have intended for these situations?
Law practice, my students learned, forces upon us all kinds of unexpected questions.*
*For identifying and dealing with these issues, my student received an award from a Law Student Ethics Award from the Association of Corporate Counsel, Northeast Division
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2 Responses

  1. Situations like this is why all law schools should be teaching professional identity classes.

  2. Thanks for sharing this example of the issues lawyers continuously confront. Your students are lucky to have a professor who helps them work through dilemmas such as these. Congrats on the well deserved award.

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