Lawyers As Whistleblowers

What Watergate Teaches us About Legal Ethics
James Robenalt

Program Agenda & Detail

2 1/2 Hours Ethics

A government whistleblower is at the center of a controversy leading to the impeachment of a president. Forty five years ago, John Dean, President Nixon’s White House Counsel, became the most prominent lawyer whistleblower in American history. His testimony resulted in the only  resignation of a sitting U. S. president and  started a revolution in legal ethics.

 

Since Watergate, federal law has changed under the False Claims Act, Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank, IRS Whistleblower programs, and the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, among others. So, even in private practice, questions arise as to a lawyer’s role as a whistleblower, given a lawyer’s duty of confidentiality and duty of loyalty.

 

Whether a lawyer may “report out” on a client is a complicated and fraught question. If done incorrectly, the lawyer risks discipline or even loss of the license to practice. This seminar is meant to provide the historical context to the question of when lawyers can—or must—report ongoing or future crime or fraud.

 

Jim Robenalt has presented more than 150 speeches and programs with John Dean where they use Dean’s experience as a case study for the requirements to report up and report out the behavior of clients. In this solo presentation, Robenalt taps numerous White House recordings—some only recently released—to tie together historical perspective and current reality. He does not promote a particular political point-of-view, but rather emphasizes every attorney’s unique role in society to embody and exemplify the highest standards and character.

 

Program Highlights

  • An “inside” look at how Watergate happened; how it was exposed; and what decisions from the lawyers involved led to the downfall of a presidency

  • How ethics rules were changed as a result of Watergate and how they effect your practice

  • Whistleblower fallout beyond Watergate, through present-day investigations, testimony, and repercussions.

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