Lecturer in Law


Professor Richard Zitrin is a graduate of Oberlin College, A.B. (1968), and New York University School of Law, J.D. (1974). He has taught Legal Ethics since 1977—since 1994 at UC Hastings—and has authored three books and dozens of articles in the field, including a current bimonthly column, The Moral Compass, for American Law Media. He founded and was the first Director of USF’s Center for Applied Legal Ethics. He was coordinator of USF’s ethics curriculum and also taught Trial Practice. He has taught ethics orientations around the country, including for several years at Fordham.

Professor Zitrin has also chaired the California State Bar’s ethics committee; been awarded the ABA’s Pro Bono Publico Award in 2006; continually remained in private practice, trying 50 cases to verdict; become a CA certified specialist in legal malpractice law in 2010; and been technical advisor to the film Class Action (snagging a SAG card and a 13-word role opposite Gene Hackman).

Richard Zitrin was born in Brooklyn and raised in New York. He taught school and spent two years as a political operative before going on to law school and a part-time NYC cab-driving gig. He has lived in San Francisco since 1973, where he completed his last year of law school while working on a multiple-count murder case and practicing criminal law under the then-liberal student practice rules.

In his free time, Professor Zitrin can be found playing saxophone or full-court basketball, at the ballpark or in his Italian restaurant, or watching movies with his wife or three adult children, all of whom live in the Bay Area.


  1. New York University School of Law 1974

    J.D., Law

  2. Oberlin College 1968

    A.B., Government


  1. Award of Merit 2011

    Awarded by the Bar Association of San Francisco, for efforts to ensure the success of the Bar’s legal services programs.

  2. Pro Bono Publico Award 2006

    Awarded by the American Bar Association.

  3. State Bar of California annual diversity award 2004

    Awarded by the Bar Association of San Francisco Foundation.

  4. Honoree 2004

    Conferred at the Bar Association of San Francisco Foundation’s First Annual Gala, for volunteer work.

  5. Certificate of Merit 2002

    Awarded by the Bar Association of San Francisco, for promoting “equality and justice for all.”

Selected Scholarship

  1. Regulating the Behavior of Lawyers in Mass Individual Representations: A Call for Reform 2013

    St. Mary's Journal of Legal Malpractice & Ethics

  2. The Judicial Function: Justice between the Parties, or a Broader Public Interest? 2004

    Hofstra Law Review

  3. Five Who Got It Right 2003

    Widener Law Journal

  4. The Case Against Secret Settlements (or What You Don't Know Can Hurt You) 1999

    Institute for the Study of Legal Ethics

  5. Ethics Rules for Neutrals 1999

    ABA Professional Law

  6. Truth, Justice, and the Criminal Defense Lawyer 1998

    ABA Professional Law


  1. Legal Ethics: Practice of Law