Category Archives: Behavioral Ethics Education

Reminder: Motivated Reasoning and Legal Ethics

A reminder to anyone who teaches legal ethics that the interactive video program, Motivated Reasoning and Legal Ethics, is available free to law professors from the Practising Law Institute. This valuable resource teaches about various cognitive biases and situational influences that affect ethical decision-making and includes simulations (addressing over-billing and disclosure requirements in criminal cases) performed by professional actors.  In these times when so much of the educational landscape is occurring online, this resource can complement other aspects of the ethics curriculum. More information here.



Congratulations to the Practising Law Institute for winning a Gold Award, the highest level of recognition, in the “Best Use of Video for Learning” category in the Brandon Hall Group’s Excellence Awards, for its video MOTIVATED REASONING AND LEGAL ETHICS. This video is freely available to legal educators.  More information here.

Here is the press release about the award.

The CLE of BLE

Two of the audiences for this blog are teachers of legal ethics who want to explore the behavioral aspects of ethical decision-making with their students and practicing attorneys who grapple with ethical decisions. For the former group, recently I culled from our archives blog posts that might be of interest. Finding ways for the latter group to access relevant material can be more difficult — after all, practicing lawyers tend to be quite busy and learning about a new field, especially one that is inter-disciplinary, has its challenges. This is why I am thrilled to learn about what looks like an excellent CLE program on the subject, sponsored by the Texas Center for Legal Ethics, entitled “Your Brain on Ethics: How That Thing Between Your Ears Can Lead You Astray” (for a description, see Your Brain on Ethics — course description — April 2019).

This program caught my eye for two reasons (in addition to its catchy title). The first is that the faculty involves a leader in the field of behavioral science scholarship and pedagogy, Professor Robert Prentice, who is Department Chair, Business, Government and Society, at McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin. For those not familiar with Professor Prentice’s work, I commend his long list of publications on behavioral science and decision-making, including his more recent work about behavioral ethics pedagogy (listed in this post).  In addition, Professor Prentice is a founder of Ethics Unwrapped, one the best resources available for teaching behavioral ethics (I guest blogged for Ethics Unwrapped a few years ago).

The second reason that this CLE program caught my eye is that it includes an excellent written overview of the field of Behavioral Legal Ethics, entitled “Ethical Decision Making, Fast and Slow,” which is now publicly available here.  The summary includes a description of the role of Systems 1 and 2 processing, as well as the many situational factors and cognitive and motivational biases that can produce unintended unethical behavior. For anyone looking for an introduction to the field, this is a wonderful place to start.

This program will next be presented at the Texas Health Law Conference on October 8, 2019, for anyone who might be interested.

Update:  9/12/19: Here is the Table of Contents for the written materials for “Ethical Decision Making, Fast and Slow”:

Summer Fun with Illusions (and a metaphor to boot!)

As August moves slowly toward the beginning of the school year, I find myself thinking about teaching legal ethics in the new semester.  As I discussed in my paper on the subject, when I teach Behavioral Legal Ethics I start by showing my students a few visual illusions, just to get them thinking about the limits of perception. My favorite, which I show in video form, is the Checker Board Illusion. Here it is for those not familiar with it:

As I was tinkering around with Twitter today, I came across another illusion, which is a must see. I have no idea how it works, but that it does is amazing. Here it is (and quite a metaphor for our times, I might add!):



Ethics Unwrapped, an Invaluable Resource

Ethics Unwrapped, a leader in the field of behavioral ethics education, has updated its core collection of videos, called Concepts Unwrapped. Here is the Twitter announcement:

Links to the individual videos are below.  THANK YOU Ethics Unwrapped for your wonderful work, an essential resource for all of us who teach behavioral ethics!