On September 30, the Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program (PREP) conducted a CLE ethics training at Catholic Charities Legal Services, Inc. Miami Law students Darci Cohen and Amanda Hirst discussed ethical dilemmas that lawyers may encounter in the context of a high volume, pro bono immigration practice.
The first topic involved the duties owed to prospective clients, the formation of the attorney-client relationship and impact of unsolicited electronic communications. The presentation highlighted the new ABA Ethics Opinion released in September 2010, concerning the problems posed by general e-mail and website inquiries to attorneys.
The second topic discussed the ethical obligations owed by attorneys to their clients in the attorney's use of social-media networks, as well as permissible social-media interactions between attorneys and judges.
"These presentations always help us to take a fresh look at the rules that govern [attorneys'] everyday tasks and how to improve our overall professionalism," said Catholic Charities Legal Services Managing Attorney, Callan Garcia.
"Interacting with the lawyers and staff at Catholic Charities revealed how the realities of working in a busy immigration law firm can complicate the ethical obligations that attorneys owe to their clients," said Hirst.
Cohen said that "Catholic Charities was a very vibrant group. Their dedication to ethics was apparent throughout the entire discussion."
The Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program was established in 1996 as part of the Center for Ethics and Public Service to provide the local legal community with analysis on cutting-edge ethical issues that attorneys face daily. The program has dedicated countless student hours to public service and has educated thousands of members of the Florida bench and bar. As the students teach, they learn and strive to make a difference, prompting organizations to pause and reconsider their approaches to some of the toughest ethical dilemmas.