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Professional Responsibility and Legal Ethics – Online


Learn the concepts of law and ethics, and better understand and evaluate situations where the two may conflict. These concepts will be evaluated through legal case studies.


Participants will be introduced to concepts of law, ethics, and situations where the two may conflict. Many people conflate legal compliance with ethical behavior. While this is sometimes true, there are numerous instances in which compliance and ethics diverge. While questions of compliance center around “what am I required to do?” questions of ethics focus on “what should I do?”. This course will first identify instances in which law and ethics differ. This includes outdated or unfair laws, novel or unregulated technologies, laws touching on morality issues where reasonable minds vary based on personal values or beliefs, or the most complex variety, where two ethical positions or values are pitted against one another the rules.

We will explore these concepts through legal case studies illustrating the complexities that can arise when “following the law” may lead to challenging ethical dilemmas. In both scenarios, students may disagree about the “right” thing to do in the situation or change their minds as they learn more details about each case. In the final segment of the course, students will consider applying the concepts to a business case scenario and identify ways to approach future law and ethical conflicts that may arise in their professional or personal lives.

Authentic Leadership and Business Ethics Certificate – Online

This course is a part of the Authentic Leadership and Business Ethics Certificate.

This online certificate has been designed to challenge you and help you grow as a leader and individual. Explore your leadership potential, understand the essentials to create a more ethical environment in your organization, and foster more innovation and growth.

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How It Works

100% online, led by instructor

On-demand access, 12 weeks to complete

5-6 hours of content & interactive learning assignments

Topics covered:

  • Intersection of law and ethics
  • Types of conflicts between law and ethics
  • Rules governing attorneys
  • Ethics – personal and professional
  • Law and ethics in business decisions
  • Ethical principles and values
  • Ethical decision-making

Who should attend:

  • Business students or professionals
  • Law students or legal professionals
  • Medical or healthcare students or professionals
  • Law enforcement professionals
  • Anyone with an interest in societal rules and personal ethics

Return on education:

  • Employer benefits:
    • Enhance employees’ thoughtfulness regarding company ethics and culture
    • Inspire employees to discuss rules or policies that may have ethical implications for the company and its reputation, as well as implications for employee loyalty and satisfaction
    • Think more deeply about your own company’s rules, policies, and procedures and evaluate whether these align with the company’s values and desired culture of ethics
  • Employee benefits:
    • Learn about and contemplate instances where governing laws or rules and personal ethics may diverge
    • Learn to parse and evaluate different categories of scenarios where rules and ethics may differ, and reflect upon how their own personal values would weigh into their own decision-making in these instances
    • Reflect and reassess initial impressions after learning more about detailed case studies

Eccles Executive Education is recognized by SHRM to offer SHRM-CP or SHRMSCP professional development credits (PDCs). This program is valid for 6 PDCs. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit shrmcertification.org.

Available On-Demand

This course is now available on-demand. You will receive course materials and gain access to the learning environment within one business day of registration and payment. Once you start the course, you will have 12 weeks to complete it.

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Melanie Kay

Professor Melanie Kay is a Faculty Instructor who joined the University of Colorado Law School in 2015 as the Director of the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program at Colorado Law. The Initiative focuses on helping law students develop strong, principled ethical and professional identities through courses, experiential programming, and other hands-on opportunities. She is also a Co-Director of Colorado Law’s Master of Studies of Law (MSL) in Ethics and Compliance degree program. Professor Kay teaches a variety of legal ethics and ethical culture courses to both JD and MSL students at the law school.

Professor Kay came to Colorado Law after ten years of litigation experience. She primarily practiced environmental law with the non-profit, public interest law firm Earthjustice in Denver, Colorado. She has also practiced general civil litigation at Latham & Watkins in San Francisco, California, and Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell in Denver, Colorado. Immediately after law school, she clerked on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for the Honorable Procter Hug, Jr. in Reno, Nevada. Professor Kay earned her JD from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, her MS in Environmental Geochemistry from the University of Montana, and her AB in Earth Sciences from Dartmouth College.


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