“Nixon’s Watergate Abuses: The Hackings That Forever Changed Legal Ethics” (with Q & A)

John W. Dean, White House Counsel to President Nixon, will deliver a plenary presentation at ABA TECHSHOW on Saturday, March 29. His presentation, titled “Nixon’s Watergate Abuses: The Hackings That Forever Changed Legal Ethics,” will focus on the inception of the modern Model Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers more than three decades ago and their evolution over time, including recent amendments covering a lawyer’s duty to be familiar with ways technology can benefit their practice. The presentation will be followed by a question and answer session moderated by security product developers from Viivo, the file and cloud protection software sponsoring Dean’s appearance.

Dean was interviewed extensively for a recent ABA Journal article commemorating the 30th anniversary of the ABA House of Delegates adopting the Model Rules of Professional conduct. The impetus, in part, for the ABA creating the Model Rules was the Watergate break-in and the large number of lawyers involved in the cover-up.

“In 1972, legal ethics boiled down to ‘don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal and don’t advertise,’ ” says Dean. “When I took the elective course in ethics at law school, it was one-quarter of a credit. Legal ethics and professionalism played almost no role in any lawyer’s mind, including mine. Watergate changed that—for me and every other lawyer.

After Watergate, schools began to make legal ethics a required class. Bar examinations added an extra section on ethics. And nearly all states started requiring lawyers to attend annual continuing legal education programs focused on ethics and professional conduct.

…In 1977, the ABA created the Commission on Evaluation of Professional Standards, whose work led to the adoption of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct by the association’s policymaking House of Delegates in August 1983. The Model Rules replaced the Model Code of Professional Responsibility, which had been in effect since 1969.”

“That’s one of the reasons we invited Dean to speak at TECHSHOW,” said Natalie Kelly, Chair of the 2014 ABA TECHSHOW Planning Board. “To address how ethics today not only involves substantive knowledge in the law (as it always has) but how that also now includes the ‘benefits and risks associated with relevant technology’ as the House of Delegates amended the Model Rules in August 2012.”

The presentation, open to registered ABA TECHSHOW attendees, is scheduled to take place at the Chicago Hilton Hotel from 8:30 – 10:00 AM. Those interested in attending can find more information at Single-day registrations, including the Dean presentation, begin at $195.

About 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 counsel for a thousand days. 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 JD in 1965.

For the past ten years Dean has been a visiting scholar (and lecturer) at the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of  Southern California. John writes on the subjects of law, government, and politics, and he recounted his days in the Nixon White House and Watergate in two books, Blind Ambition (1976) and Lost Honor  (1982). Since retiring from his career as a private investment banker at age 60, he has written a series of New York Times best sellers, a biweekly column for, and is currently working  on his twelfth book, while regularly delivering  Continuing Legal Education programs throughout the country.


ABA TECHSHOW is an annual legal technology Conference and EXPO designed to bring lawyers and technology together for three days of CLE and networking. Presented by the ABA Law Practice Division, ABA TECHSHOW helps lawyers practice efficiently through the use of technology. Follow the latest news about ABA TECHSHOW on Twitter and Facebook.

About Viivo

Viivo provides easy security for attorneys and firms working on mobile devices and in public clouds like Dropbox®. Viivo encryption happens behind the scenes and takes the worry out of sharing and storing client documents in clouds like Dropbox®, Box®, Google™ Drive and OneDrive®. Secure, smart sharing is part of our DNA: Viivo was created by PKWARE, the same people who established the ZIP file standard in 1986. PKWARE continues to innovate with security and performance products used for billions of daily documents by 30,000 global customers in finance, government, retail, law and more.

About the American Bar Association

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.