In this short piece I want to say a few things that other academics teaching legal ethics may find disturbing. I say this because I believe that I may be swimming against the current academic fashion. Of course, it is possible that I do not have a very good handle on the current academic fashion. I hope I am not setting up a straw person to knock down, but I may be. If I am, I am sure someone will call me to task. What I am going to say is this: contrary to popular belief (among practitioners, at least) law teaching is probably better than it used to be, especially in the areas of legal ethics and professionalism; and law students and practicing lawyers probably have a better understanding of the content of the professional codes than they used to have. Things may not be like they used to be in that late, great Golden Age that some allude to, but then again, they probably never were. I think that all of this can be attributed to better teaching of the "rules" (or if you prefer, the "Rules') in law school, and better Continuing Legal Education, as well as the interest in the rules that was generated as the Model Rules were formulated and adopted, first at the ABA level, and then at the state level.
Richard H. Underwood, What I Think That I Have Learned about Legal Ethics, 39 Idaho L. Rev. 245 (2003).