What do the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, Catholic Charities, and the ABA International Business Law Section have in common? It may seem unconventional, but these organizations and others have received ethics training from law students in the Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program (PREP) at the University of Miami School of Law. Attorneys who have attended presentations put on by PREP have described the student interns and fellows as "ethics experts" says Daniel Schwarz, an intern in the Program.
Jan Jacobowitz, Director of the Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program, explains that students develop and present continuing legal education ethics training to the South Florida legal community. Students work collaboratively; develop issues dealing with hot topics in ethics and professionalism; draft substantive academic materials; and present customized CLE ethics training to non-profit legal services agencies, for-profit law offices, corporations, government agencies, bar associations, and courts that are essentially EAPR’s "clients." The students involved in the program are extremely enthusiastic about their work, which is labor intensive and extremely rewarding.
Being an intern in PREP provides students with practical experience that is not offered elsewhere. Matipa Nyamangwanda, a student intern, shares: "Every lawyer needs ethics. [In this program] you meet lawyers facing issues that aren’t in textbooks, so you deal with problems lawyers really have."
The "set of discrete, cutting-edge ethical problems" that students investigate provide them with the opportunity to become an expert on legal issues in a short period of time, says William Nicholson, a third-year fellow in the program.
PREP allows students to work for a client from beginning to end. Nicholson explains that in other clinics and programs, a student may work on portions of a case, but in many instances, the student has graduated before the case is over and may not be able to see the fruit of their work.
Students like Robert Zavistoski, an intern in the program, are able to produce a detailed piece of writing, which is produced professionally for their clients. However, students are not limited to writing memoranda for clients.
"The program trains students in research, public speaking, and writing," says Paul Masdeu, a fellow in the program.
In addition to the work they are able to do for clients, many student interns and fellows in the program share that they have been able to network at a higher level. Milana Kuznetsova, an intern with the PREP, explains that the PREP has not only allowed her to meet many members of the legal community, but she also now receives name and face recognition from the attorneys and judges before which she has given presentations.
Aside from the academic aspects of the PREP, Masdeu explains that the students in the program are among the "finest group of people" he has had the opportunity to work with. "These are the people you want to be around," he says.