Ethics CLE at the American Shakespeare Center: Applying the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct to Henry IV, Part 1

MCLE Credits: 2.0
Ethics Credits Included: 2.0

Live on Site: Thursday, March 21 / American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse, Staunton
(Registration has now closed)

Registration: 9:30 a.m.
Program: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (performance at 10:30 a.m.; seminar at 2:00 p.m.)
MCLE Credit: 2.0 (Ethics: 2.0)
Live-Interactive Credit: 2.0 Live Interactive MCLE Credit Symbol


This Experience CLE includes:

  • A world-class Shakespearean performance of Henry IV, Part 1 from the Lords’ Chairs or Front-Row Stalls in the beautiful Blackfriars Playhouse in historic Staunton
  • A fun and interactive analysis of the main characters as if they were lawyers bound by the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct, conducted by the program faculty with the assistance of the actors
  • A catered buffet lunch
  • An optional backstage tour
  • Guest tickets available
  • Make it a getaway—discounted hotel rooms available


Registration has now closed. Please e-mail Rich DiMeglio at if you would like to be placed on a waiting list.


American Shakespeare CenterJoin us at the beautiful and internationally acclaimed Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton for a front-row view of an amazing Shakespearean production of Henry IV, Part 1, followed by a catered lunch and a two-hour live-interactive seminar held right in the Playhouse, using the play as a platform to discuss Virginia's Rules of Professional Conduct.


Words, whether spoken or written, are the tools of our trade as lawyers, and there is much we can learn from William Shakespeare, the greatest writer and storyteller in the history of the English language. Whether it be Portia’s brilliant legal argument and wit against Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Leontes’s circumstantial evidence case against his Queen Hermione for adultery, conspiracy, and treason in The Winter’s Tale, or Antony’s “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” speech in Julius Caesar, Shakespeare’s plays offer much to inform and improve our legal advocacy and trial skills.

While several plays may be discussed during the seminar, Henry IV, Part 1 will be featured to lead the discussion. The faculty, assisted by Shakespearean actors from the ASC, will analyze the primary characters in Henry IV, Part 1 as if each were a lawyer, bound by the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct. Using this construct specific Rules of Professional Conduct, along with the Preamble, will be explored. For example:

  • ACT 1:2:110-224 (Planning the robbery) Assuming Hal is an attorney, and Falstaff is his client, what duty, if any, does Hal have to his client when Falstaff and Poins tell him of the details of a highway robbery they have planned?  RPC 1:6 (Confidentiality) Would the answers be different if Falstaff is not Hal's client?  RPC 1.18 (Duties to Prospective Client) How does Hal's course of action comport with RPC 8:4 (a) & (b) (Misconduct)?
  • ACT 2:2: 100-117 (Prince Hal and Poins accost Falstaff and the thieves) When Prince Hal and Poins accost Falstaff and the thieves, do Hal and Poins commit a crime?  RPC 8.4 (Misconduct) Has Hal breached any ethical obligation if Poins is a client?  RPC 1.9 (Conflict of Interest: Former Client) Does it matter whether Poins is a client? LEO 376  What if Hal represents both Falstaff and Poins? RPC 1.7 (Conflict of Interest) and LEO 986
  • ACT 2:4:389-499 (The Trial of the “Particulars of Hal’s Life”) Are Falstaff’s comments as the King true and, if made by a lawyer, sanctionable? RPC 3.3 (Candor Toward the Tribunal), and RPC 3.5 (Impartiality and Decorum of the Tribunal)
  • ACT 2:4:500-545 (Hal's encounter with the sheriff) Assuming that Hal is an attorney and Falstaff is not his client, do Hal’s actions in helping to hide Falstaff from the Sherriff violate the RPC?  LEO 51, 709, 929, 1316, and RPC 4.1 (Truthfulness in Statements to Others)  If Hal is Falstaff’s lawyer, has he committed an ethical violation by directing Peto to search Falstaff’s pockets? RPC 1.6 (Confidentiality)
  • ACT 5:4:142-162 (Falstaff’s Claim to Having Killed Hotspur)  Assuming that Falstaff is an attorney do his statements here run afoul of the RPC?  Preamble to the RPC

Located in historic Staunton, the American Shakespeare Center recovers the joys and accessibility of Shakespeare’s theatre, language, and humanity. This 300-seat Renaissance-style theatre, the world’s only recreation of Shakespeare’s own indoor theatre, offers an intimate space to see the Bard’s plays in a fast-paced, spirited style where the audience is always part of the show.

Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillities, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks?
(William Shakespeare, Hamlet (5.1.100-02))

Comments from prior CLEs at the American Shakespeare Center:

“Totally different than any other CLE in 40 years; wonderful participant engagement; terrific dramatic performance.”

“Excellent, imaginative presentation that made me see Shakespeare and legal argument in new ways.”

“Most entertaining CLE I have ever attended.  Do it again!”

“Thank you!  This fed my soul.”

This Experience CLE program is not eligible for discounts.




9:30 Registration (with refreshments) begins (at the Blackfriars Playhouse)
10:00 Pre-play music and entertainment in the Blackfriars Playhouse
10:30 Performance of Henry IV, Part 1
1:00 Hot buffet lunch (next door at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel)
2:00 Seminar: Applying the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct to Henry IV, Part 1
4:00 Adjourn and option for a backstage tour



Hon. W. Allan Sharrett

W. Allan Sharrett is a judge in the Sixth Judicial Circuit, which comprises six rural and semi-rural political jurisdictions in southern Virginia.  He was elected to the circuit court in 2004, having served as a substitute judge in the general and juvenile and domestic relations district courts since 1981.  Prior to his election to the circuit court, he was engaged for 27 years in an active trial practice that included extensive criminal defense, family law, and civil plaintiff’s litigation.

Judge Sharrett received his undergraduate degree from The College of William and Mary in 1974, and his law degree from the University of Richmond in 1977.  He is a former convener and member of the Third District ethics committee of the Virginia State Bar, a former member of its Client Protection Fund board, and presently serves on the Bar’s Bench/Bar Relations Committee.  He was a member of the Greensville County and City of Emporia School Boards for 23 years, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Family YMCA of Emporia/Greensville for 17 years.

Judge Sharrett has taught on a number of subjects related to the practice of law.  Among them are, “Opening Statements and Closing Arguments” (University of Richmond Law School, 2012); Lessons Learned Over 35 Years: A Look Back from the Bar and the Bench (Young Lawyer’s Division, Virginia Bar Association, 2012); and “How to Comport Yourself at Quasi-Judicial Disciplinary Board Hearings (Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board, 2018).

Judge Sharrett has been married far over his head for over 43 years to his wife Betsy, and they have two children — Allan, 38, and Elizabeth, 35.  He has twice completed the entire length of the 2100 mile Appalachian Trail, and has run the Boston Marathon three times.

Ralph Alan Cohen, American Shakespeare Center / Staunton

Ralph Alan Cohen is Co-Founder and Director of Mission at the American Shakespeare Center, and Gonder Professor of Shakespeare and Performance and founder of the Master of Letters and Fine Arts program at Mary Baldwin College.  He has directed 35 productions of plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, including America’s first professional production of Francis Beaumont’s The Knight of the Burning Pestle and the first modern production of Thomas Middleton’s Your Five Gallants, which he also edited for The Collected Works of Thomas Middleton. He is the author of ShakesFear and How to Cure It: A Handbook for Teaching Shakespeare, and founded the Studies Abroad program at James Madison University, where he was one of the first recipients of Virginia’s award for outstanding faculty.  In 2001, Mr. Cohen established the Blackfriars Conference, a bi-annual week-long celebration of early modern drama in performance. In 2008 he won the Commonwealth Governor’s Arts Award, and in 2009 he was the Theo Crosby Fellow at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, where he is on the Architectural Review Group. In 2013 he received the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Shakespeare Steward Award for outstanding contribution to the innovative teaching of Shakespeare.  In June of 2014 he was the first American to receive the Globe’s Sam Wanamaker Award for pioneering work in Shakespearean theatre.  Mr. Cohen earned his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College and his doctorate at Duke University.

Kimberly R. West, Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff & Brandt, LLC / Birmingham, AL

Kim West serves as lead and liaison counsel to health plans across the country in federal multi-district pharmaceutical and mass tort litigation.  In addition to her legal background and training, Ms. West is a member of the Shakespeare Association of America, and of the International Shakespeare Association. She teaches Shakespeare and Trial Advocacy at the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama, and is a trustee of the American Shakespeare Center. She presented at the World Shakespeare Congress in Prague during the summer of 2011, and in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2016. She has written many legally focused works regarding Shakespeare.  Her 2011 paper “A Legal Assessment of the Circumstantial Evidence in The Winter’s Tale” appears in the Proceedings of the Ninth Shakespeare World Congress, and her 2013 paper “Craving the Law in the Merchant of Venice or How to Draft an Enforceable Contract for a Pound of Flesh” was published in the proceedings of the 2013 Blackfriars Conference.  At the request of the Administrative Office of the Federal Courts, she recently gave a CLE on judicial ethics for federal judges, using Shakespeare's Measure for Measure

Locations, Dates and Fees


$225 regular registration (includes the seminar, printed materials, hot buffet lunch, and the play)

$270 regular registration, plus one guest ticket for a guest to attend both the play and lunch 

Seminar attendees can purchase additional tickets for a guest to attend both the play and lunch for $45 each. Guests are also welcome to sit in on the seminar. To purchase additional guest tickets, please e-mail Rich DiMeglio at


STAUNTON / Thursday, March 21
American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse, Staunton (Venue Website / Google Map)
10 S. Market Street
(540) 851-1733

Registration Deadlines: 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 18, for registrations received by mail, fax, or phone; also 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 18, for online registration.

Detailed instructions (with information about parking, registration, seats, and lunch) will be emailed to all attendees in advance. 

Directions to the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, along with parking options, may be found here.

Make it a getaway! A limited number of rooms are being held for seminar attendees at a discounted rate of $149/night at The Blackburn Inn (301 Greenville Avenue, Staunton, (540) 712-0601) for Wednesday evening, March 20.  The room block is in place until February 20. After that, availability is not guaranteed. Please reference “Virginia CLE” when making your reservation. 

The Stonewall Jackson Hotel (540-885-4848), does not have any rooms currently available for March 20, but does have rooms available for the evening after the program (March 21) at a discounted rate of $119/night. This room block is also in place until February 20. Please reference “Virginia CLE” when making your reservation.

Cancellation/transfer requests for the seminar will be honored until 5:00 p.m. the DAY BEFORE the program; for cancellations made after March 14, however, a $70 cancellation fee will be charged.

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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