Ronald D. Rotunda

Ronald D. Rotunda

Until his death in March 2018, Ronald D. Rotunda was the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, at Chapman University, Dale E. Fowler School of Law. Before that, he was University Professor and Professor of Law at George Mason University and the Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Professor of Law, the University of Illinois.  He was a magna cum laude graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where he was a member of Harvard Law Review. Before that, he clerked for Judge Walter R. Mansfield 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals).  He practiced law in Washington, D.C., and was assistant majority counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee.
He co-authored the most widely used course book on legal ethics, Problems and Materials on Professional Responsibility (Foundation Press, 12th ed. 2014); authored a leading course book on constitutional law, Modern Constitutional Law (West Academic Co., 11th ed. 2015);  co-authored (with John Dzienkowski) Legal Ethics: The Lawyer’s Deskbook on Professional Responsibility (ABA-Thompson Reuters Publishing, 2016-2017 Ed.);  co-authored (with John Nowak) the six-volume Treatise on Constitutional Law (West/Thompson Reuters Publishing, 5th ed. 2012)( annually updated); and authored the one-volume Treatise on Constitutional Law (West Academic, 8th ed. 2010). He published several other books and more than 500 articles in law reviews, journals, newspapers in this country and abroad. His works have been translated into French, Portuguese German, Romanian, Czech, Russian, Japanese, and Korean. State and federal courts at every level, foreign courts in Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America, and law reviews have cited his publications more than 2000 times.  
In 1993, he was the Constitutional Law Adviser to the Supreme National Council of Cambodia, and assisted that country in writing its first democratic constitution. He consulted with new democracies in Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine on their proposed constitutions and judicial codes. He chaired the subcommittee that drafted the American Bar Association’s Model Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement; was a member of the Publications Board of the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility (1994 to 2016); and was member of the ABA Standing Committee on Professional Discipline (1991-1997). He was Fulbright Professor in Venezuela (1986) and Fulbright Research Scholar in Italy (1981). In 1996, he assisted the Czech Republic in drafting the first Rules of Ethics for lawyers.  He was a Visiting Scholar, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Faculty of Law, Leuven, Belgium, and a visiting lecturer at the Institute of Law and Economics, Institut für Recht und Ökonomik, the University of Hamburg.  From early June 2004 to May 2005, he was the Special Counsel to the Department of Defense.
In May 2000, American Law Media, publisher of The American Lawyer, the National Law Journal, and the Legal Times picked Rotunda as one of the ten most influential Illinois Lawyers.   Also in 2000, a University of Chicago Press study to determine the influence, productivity, and reputations of law professors over the last several decades, ranked Rotunda as the 17th highest in the nation.  The 2002-2003 New Educational Quality Ranking of U.S. Law Schools (EQR) [the last year for which such records are available] ranks Professor Rotunda as the eleventh most cited of all law faculty in the United States. See http://www.leiterrankings.com/faculty/2002faculty_impact_cites.shtml.He was selected the Best Lawyer in Washington, DC, in 2009 in Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law, as published in November 2008 in the Washington Post in association with the Legal Times.  When he moved to California, he was similarly selected every year, since 2009.  From 2009 to 2013, he was a Commissioner of the Fair Political Practices Commission, a state regulatory agency (analogous to the Federal Election Commission).  He was a Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Legal Education (2014 to 2016). See also, www.ronaldrotunda.org.

Columns by Ronald D. Rotunda

Judicial Campaigns and the Appearance of Impropriety

Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda comments on the concept of the “appearance of impropriety” that affects the regulation of the conduct of judges. Rotunda looks specifically at judicial election campaigns and points out that the statistical data do not support a conclusion a tit for tat relationship between campaign contributions and judicial decisions.

A Minimum Wage of Zero

Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda questions the practice of both the Hillary Clinton Campaign and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to employ unpaid interns. Rotunda argues that in both instances, the interns do not receive the type of training or education from the experience that is required in order for an unpaid internship not to violate federal labor laws.

Dred Scott After Nearly Two Centuries

Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda the lead-up and history of the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision—in which the Court in 1857 held that African Americans could not be American citizens and therefore could not sue in federal court. Rotunda explains how the case progressed through the state and subsequently federal courts, and discusses how the decision affected some of the justices sitting on the Court at the time.

Regulating Lawyer Advertising When It Is Not Misleading

Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda discusses a report drafted by the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers finding that state regulation of lawyer advertising involves far more rules and complexity than is necessary. Rotunda points out that in light of the purpose of such rules, the report recommends states that have a single rule that prohibits false and misleading communications about a lawyer or the lawyer’s services.

The Celgard Decision and Lawyer Disqualification

Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda discusses a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit with respect to the disqualification of a lawyer from representing a client due to a conflict of interest. Rotunda cautions that the decision, if read broadly, could signal major risks for patent firms, but he argues that the decision need not be read so broadly.

Disciplining Lawyers Who Engage in Moral Turpitude

Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda describes the apparent confusion in many jurisdictions over the phrase “moral turpitude” with respect to whether and when attorneys are subject to discipline. Rotunda points out that while many states have adopted the model rules (which, in their current form reject the prohibition against “illegal conduct involving moral turpitude”), these states’ courts still rely on the vague standard when applying the rules.