Watergate Lawyer John Dean Teaching Ethics CLE

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on June 07, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Some might think he is not qualified to teach legal ethics, but former White House counsel and Watergate lawyer John Dean is doing just that.

Approved to teach a series of Continuing Legal Education courses across the country, Dean is first going to teach Skadden associates what a lawyer should do when his client is engaged in criminal activity.

Though informed of the entire affair only after the Watergate burglars were arrested, John Dean was convicted of obstruction of justice and spent four months in prison, reports The New York Times.

John Dean also spent some time testifying in front of Congress, where the paper notes he pointed out that over 2/3 of the people involved in the Watergate scandal were attorneys.

That testimony prompted the American Bar Association to start forcing law schools to teach legal ethics.

Might not be fair to blame Watergate Lawyer John Dean for that pain, though.

So why is Mr. Dean qualified to teach legal ethics?

He "helped write the book of what not to do," according to what he told the Times.

The truth is that Dean had a lot less legal ethics training at his disposal than you and I do at this very moment.

Back in 1972, there was such an emphasis on zealous representation that his only real option would have been to resign. But these days, many states have enacted the Model Rules, which permit attorneys to report within the organization, and if needed, to proper authorities.

So wherever you fall on his ethics qualifications, John Dean certainly can speak from legal experiences and life lessons few others possess.

(NOTE: Aside from being the Watergate lawyer, John Dean has also written for FindLaw's Writ for many years.)

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