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Miami Law Students Present Ethics Training on Social Networks

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In its first CLE presentation of the academic year, the Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program (PREP) engaged members of the South Miami/Kendall Bar Association in a discussion about the social-networking site Facebook.

Miami Law students Gayland Hethcoat, Daniel Casamayor, and Sarah Laputz presented various hypothetical ethical dilemmas that lawyers may encounter when using Facebook, which has become one of the most popular ways to stay in touch with personal and professional contacts.

Topics included firm advertising, "friendships" between lawyers and judges, and judicial campaign pages on Facebook. The presentation stirred a lively debate among the attorneys, both as to the appropriate use of Facebook for legal advertising and the question of whether judges should be permitted to interact with attorneys on Facebook.

"Our attorneys were impressed with the student's level of knowledge on issues that were highly pertinent and timely to the Association's members as Florida's advertising and social media rules are in a state of flux," said South Miami- Kendall Bar Association President, Sharon Azoulay.

"These are issues that lawyers and judges face every day. It's important to know how to handle these potential problems," said Laputz. "This was a great experience. Not only did I enjoy discussing the topics we had researched, but it was an excellent opportunity to meet and learn from lawyers in our community."

Casamayor said that "presenting our hypothetical to legal practitioners allowed us to take a 'hands on' approach, and apply the lessons we have learned in the classroom. We were also able to gain a different perspective from those in attendance about their own views on social networking and internet communications."

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.