Watergate—Dean’s Break with the White House: The Ethics of a Lawyer Representing an Organization in Reporting Crime or Fraud That Is Continuing - ALL NEW PROGRAM!

MCLE Credits: 3.0
Ethics Credits Included: 3.0

Video on Site: Thursday, October 13 / Richmond, Tysons Corner
  Monday, October 24 / Alexandria
Registration: 8:30 a.m.
Program: 9:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
MCLE Credit: 3.0 (Ethics: 3.0)
Live-Interactive Credit: 0.0
This program is a video replay of a live seminar held in May 2016.


Why Attend?

  • Join us for this BRAND NEW Watergate seminar and take another engrossing look into this major event in presidential history and how it led to a defining change in legal ethics.
  • Earn 3 Ethics credits while exploring the duties of “reporting up” and “reporting out” under Rule 1.13, and exploring the ethics rules that apply when a lawyer discovers he or she has assisted a client in a crime or fraud, all in a high-stakes game, fraught with moral and ethical dilemmas. 

Featuring Former Nixon White House Counsel John W. Dean

Picking up where the wildly popular 2013 program left off, this ALL-NEW and COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ethics seminar uses White House tapes and relies on the encyclopedic work done by John Dean in his 2014 best-selling book, The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It.

Watergate changed the world we live in, and in doing so it also changed the world of legal ethics. This new program begins after Dean’s March 21, 1973, warning to President Richard Nixon that a “cancer” was growing on his presidency, and discusses the dramatic twists and turns, as Dean hires a lawyer, meets with prosecutors and eventually Senate investigators, and ultimately breaks with the president. He then becomes the target of the administration and somehow navigates through treacherous waters to safe harbor, ending the cover-up.

John Dean and Jim Robenalt’s CLE programs have been hailed by attendees across the country as the best CLE in the nation. Dean’s role as White House counsel is used as a case study to explore the ethics of representing an organization and the “report up” and “report out” requirements of Model Rule 1.13. As a lawyer for the organization, what are the duties and obligations if a report up to the highest authority within an organization has failed and crime or fraud continues? Rule 1.13 of the Code of Professional Conduct (the “Model Rules”) provides that the lawyer may “report out” what the lawyer knows, regardless of the duty of confidentiality imposed by Rule 1.6. And the lawyer’s duties become even more complicated if the lawyer has participated, knowingly or not, in the wrongdoing that gives rise to the reporting obligation. How then does the lawyer extricate himself or herself? When is resignation enough? When does a lawyer need to engage in a “noisy” withdrawal?

Praise for the live program held in May:

  • "This is the best ethics CLE I’ve attended in over 30 years of being an attorney.”
  • “Excellent information and stimulating history.”
  • “It exceeded my expectations. It was terrific.”
  • “Wonderful balance of substance and humor. Very entertaining.”

Can't Attend?
E-mail distance_ed@vacle.org to be notified when/if this program is made available as an online or USB seminar.
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This program is not eligible for discounts.



8:30 Registration
9:00 Program begins (will include 15-minute break)

Hour One:  Rule 1.13 and Watergate, a quick refresher on how John Dean’s testimony led to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and particularly the Organization as Client rule (Rule 1.13).  The remainder of the hour is a summary of leading events from June 1972 to February 1973, when Dean begins his direct reporting to the president.  A special review of the ethics rules that apply when a lawyer discovers he or she has assisted client crime or fraud.  Rules 1.2 (d), comment 10, and 1.16 resignation explored.

Hour Two:  Reporting-up under Rule 1.13.  This hour highlights the time frame from late February 1973, when Dean begins direct reporting to the president, to the first weeks of April, when Dean decides to break rank and report out.  The speakers review the lead-up to the “cancer on the presidency” warning on March 21, 1973, and subsequent events when the cover-up begins to unravel.  Psychology of cover-ups also discussed.

Hour Three:  Reporting-out under Rule 1.13—the perils of a lawyer as whistle-blower.  This segment explores in depth the weekend of April 14 and 15, when the cover-up dissolves and Dean breaks rank, reporting out to prosecutors and eventually the Senate to end the cover-up.  The dramatic weekend shows how the CEO who is caught in crime tries to use the lawyer, but the lawyer balks and reports out to authorities.  It is a high-stakes game, fraught with moral and ethical dilemmas.  And all caught on audio tape.

12:15 Adjourn



John W. Dean

Before becoming Counsel to the President of the United States in July 1970 at age thirty-one, John Dean was Chief Minority Counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives, the Associate Director of a law reform commission, and Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States. He served as Richard Nixon’s White House lawyer for a thousand days.

Mr. Dean did his undergraduate studies at Colgate University and the College of Wooster, with majors in English Literature and Political Science. He received a graduate fellowship from American University to study government and the presidency, before entering Georgetown University Law Center, where he received his J.D. in 1965.

Mr. Dean initially recounted his days in the Nixon White House and Watergate in two books, Blind Ambition (1976) and Lost Honor (1982). He recently published The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It (2014), his 12th book (10th since retiring), which returns to Watergate and is based on new material now available.  It was this material that prompted him and Mr. Robenalt to develop this CLE.  Mr. Dean lives in Beverly Hills, California, with his wife, Maureen, and now devotes full time to writing and lecturing, having retired from his career as a private investment banker. 

James David Robenalt

Jim Robenalt is a partner and former Chair of the Business Litigation group at Thompson Hine LLP’s Cleveland office.  Mr. Robenalt is also the author of two non-fiction books dealing with the American presidency: Linking Rings: William W. Durbin and the Magic and Mystery of America (Kent State University Press 2004) and The Harding Affair: Love and Espionage During the Great War (Palgrave 2009).  He is a recognized leader in judicial reform in Ohio.

Mr. Robenalt teaches and instructs on the legal ethics and the representation of an organization under new Model Rules 1.13 and 1.6. Using John Dean as fact witness and Watergate as a case study, he and Mr. Dean have developed an interactive, fast-paced program that explores the duties of an attorney representing an organization when wrongdoing is uncovered.  Rule 1.13 defines “organization” broadly, including corporations, partnerships, unions, governmental entities, and the like.

Locations, Dates and Fees


$200 regular registration (printed materials included).
$215 on-site registration (if space is available) (printed materials included).



Abingdon: Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, on the campus of Virginia Highlands Community College (I-81 exit 14), 1 Partnership Circle  (276) 619-4300 (Venue Website / Google Map)
Alexandria: Courtyard Marriott Alexandria Old Town/Southwest, 2700 Eisenhower Ave. (703) 329-2323 (Venue Website / Google Map)
Charlottesville: The Virginia CLE® Building, 105 Whitewood Road (800) 979-8253 (Venue Website / Google Map)
Hampton: Old Dominion University’s Peninsula Center, Peninsula Workforce Development Center, Second Floor, 600 Butler Farm Road, next to the TNCC Campus  (757) 766-5200 (Venue Website / Google Map)
Richmond: UVA Richmond Regional Center, 2810 N. Parham Road, Suite 300, 3rd Floor (Parking available only in spots not marked “Visitor Parking”) (804) 662-7464 (Venue Website / Google Map)
Roanoke: Roanoke Higher Education Center, 108 North Jefferson Street (Parking validated for parking deck adjacent to center only) (540) 767-6161 (Venue Website / Google Map)


Harrisonburg: Courtyard Marriott, 1890 Evelyn Byrd Avenue (540) 432-3031 (Venue Website / Google Map)


Norfolk: SpringHill Suites Norfolk—Virginia Beach, 6350 Newtown Road (757) 333-3100 (Venue Website / Google Map)
Tysons Corner: Courtyard Marriott, 1960-A Chain Bridge Road (entrance to hotel on Greensboro Drive) (703) 790-0207 (Venue Website / Google Map) Now Metro accessible!
Holiday Inn Express Warrenton, 410 Holiday Court (540) 341-3461 (Venue Website / Google Map)


Richmond: UVA Richmond Regional Center, 2810 N. Parham Road, Suite 300, 3rd Floor (Parking available only in spots not marked “Visitor Parking”) (804) 662-7464 (Venue Website / Google Map)
Tysons Corner: Courtyard Marriott, 1960-A Chain Bridge Road (entrance to hotel on Greensboro Drive) (703) 790-0207 (Venue Website / Google Map) Now Metro accessible!


Alexandria: Courtyard Marriott Alexandria Old Town / Southwest, 2700 Eisenhower Ave. (703) 329-2323 (Venue Website / Google Map)

Cancellation/transfer requests will be honored through 5:00 p.m. of the DAY BEFORE the seminar.

If you have a disability that requires special accommodation, please contact Virginia CLE® well in advance of the program date.

Private recording of this program is prohibited.

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