Miami Law's Professional Responsibility Program (PREP) recently traveled to the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC) where Interns Simona Popova and Kelly Rains, under the supervision of PREP Director Jan Jacobowitz, provided an engaging and interactive presentation on compelling legal and ethical issues raised in the immigration context.
The CLE presentation began with an interactive discussion of the ethical issues that can arise when a client with a mental disability makes decisions unrelated to the representation that the attorney feels are not in the client's best interest. The presentation then continued by focusing on guidelines for an attorney who feels that a client is being untruthful, but has no evidence to support the attorney's intuition. The presentation concluded with an analysis of the distinction between appropriately coaching a witness and inappropriately scripting testimony.
Following the presentation, the interns received an email thanking them for their efforts. Lisette Losado, Supervising Attorney at FIAC, wrote: "The training you provided was a wonderful opportunity to have a lively and thoughtful discussion about all of the ethical and moral concerns that arise in our day-to-day work. We are better informed now thanks to your help! And we can feel better about the hard decisions we must make every day in serving our clients."
"Visiting FIAC was an amazing experience," said Rains. "It was great to hear from the attorneys about their personal experiences with their clients in the day-to-day operations of the center. I will absolutely take what I learned with me to whatever job I have upon graduation." Popova added, "The attorneys at FIAC were not only knowledgeable and mindful of the ethical issues implicated by the cases we presented, but also extremely engaging. The conversations we had were very thoughtful, and I learned a lot from the experience."
The Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program was established in 1996 as an in-house program within the Center for Ethics and Public Service at the University of Miami School of Law. 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 quite often make a difference, prompting organizations to pause and reconsider their approaches to some of the toughest ethical dilemmas.