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Ethics: Representing Clients with Developmental, Intellectual, and Psychiatric Disabilities

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Excerpted from 5th National Conference: Disability Issues in Employment and Education Law, Recorded on June 22, 2018


Claudia Center, Senior Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Program, American Civil Liberties Union, San Francisco, CA
Robin Resnick, Staff Attorney, Legal Director, Disability Rights Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
David Ferleger, J.D., Law Office of David Ferleger, Jenkintown, PA
Moderator: Lee Awbrey, Chairperson, Committee on the Legal Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Philadelphia Bar Association, Philadelphia, PA

At some point in their careers, most lawyers will encounter a client with developmental, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities. Representing these clients raises a number of ethical questions. These clients may have a limited ability to communicate information and desires, to understand information communicated by the attorney, and to understand choices, and they may voice desires that do not appear to be in their best interest. This panel discusses an attorney’s ethical obligations as set forth in the ABA Model Rules of Professional Responsibility. Hypotheticals are discussed to illustrate how these rules function in day-to-day practice.

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