Ethics and Professionalism Teaching Materials

The Mercer Center has sponsored the creation of two series of vignettes that are designed for the interactive teaching of ethics and professionalism. The first concerns ethics and expert witnesses, while the latter concerns ethics and professionalism issues that are particularly relevant to federal civil litigation.

Ethics and Expert Witnesses

With funding from the Foundation of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the Mercer Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism has produced a series of recorded vignettes to educate lawyers and law students about ethical issues that arise in connection with the use of expert witnesses. The vignettes concern a fictional case in which a middle-aged man dies, allegedly as a result of using a diet drug. In the course of seven scenes, a number of issues arise. Among these issues are: (1) when, if at all, must an attorney secure an expert opinion before filing a case or asserting a defense? (2) what assistance may an attorney ethically give an expert in preparing the expert's opinion? (3) what instructions may an attorney give an expert regarding notes and drafts related to an expert's report? (4) what contacts are permitted between an attorney and an adversary's experts? (5) when, if at all, may an attorney contact an expert previously consulted but not retained by an adversary? and (6) may a settlement be conditioned on the "trade" of an expert? The vignettes and the Teacher's Manual have been sent to every law school library in the United States.

For more information or to obtain a copy of the Ethics and Experts vignettes and teacher's manual, please contact Professor Longan at (478) 301-2639 or

Ethics and Professionalism in Federal Civil Litigation

In cooperation with the Judicial Conference of the 11th Circuit, the Center has produced a set of recorded vignettes, and a discussion guide for them, related to ethics and professionalism in federal litigation. Among the issues raised are: (1) how should counsel deal with an opposing counsel who fails to live up to informal agreements or who misrepresents facts to the court? (2) what are the obligations of counsel when the opposing party requests “documents” that exist only in electronic form? (3) how should an attorney conduct himself or herself when the judge in the case is acting unprofessionally? (4) what are the proper limits on investigation of an opposing party’s case? and (5) what issues of ethics and professionalism arise in mediation, for the lawyers and the mediator? In the scene involving electronic discovery, a senior partner (who does not have a firm grasp on technological issues) discusses with his more technically savvy junior associate how to respond to a document request from the adverse party.

Copies of these vignettes and the teacher’s manual may be obtained, free of charge, by contacting Professor Patrick Longan at (478) 301-2639 or