PREP Explores Legal Ethics in the Diverse “Languages” of Immigration and Bankruptcy Law

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Sam Bookhardt, Tiffany Hendricks, Brittany Brooks and Jackson

Sam Bookhardt, Tiffany Hendricks, Brittany Brooks and Jackson

Students from Miami Law’s Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program (PREP) recently visited Catholic Charities Legal Services and the Broward Bankruptcy Bar Association to explore the ethical quandaries arising in immigration law and the ethics challenges found in the unique language of bankruptcy practice. PREP provides an opportunity for students to explore diverse areas of the law and interact with attorneys practicing in those areas regarding the ethical challenges that confront today’s legal profession.

Students Jennifer Felipe, Barbara Cabrera and Karyn Sanchez conducted a CLE ethics training at Catholic Charities Legal Services and discussed ethical dilemmas that lawyers may encounter in the context of a high volume immigration practice.

Specifically, the interactive presentation focused on ethical considerations that accompany "friend of the court" appearances, representation of unaccompanied minors and other clients with diminished capacity, and client file retention. These areas involved a discussion of the formation and proper termination of an attorney-client relationship, the specific duties owed to minors and disabled clients, as well as the duties owed to prospective clients.

Given the recent influx of unaccompanied minors to the United States, the attorneys provided plenty of examples of how the ethics rules come into play in their daily practice. The students found it interesting that among the attorneys present, there were so many differing views as to the proper approach to a specific situation.

Cabrera, a PREP intern and first-time presenter, described her experience as “thought-provoking,” and commented on how she “cannot wait for the next presentation.”

Sanchez, also a PREP intern and first-time presenter, found the experience to be “very rewarding” and appreciated “the opportunity to provide information and learn a lot from a very engaged audience.”

Felipe, a PREP fellow, enjoyed “participating in making possible the opportunity for meaningful conversation on a very important topic.”

PREP students Jackson Siegal, Brittany Brooks, Tiffany Hendricks, and Samuel Bookhardt had a quite different experience when they joined Broward Bankruptcy Judge Ray and the Broward Bankruptcy Bar Association to discuss ethics in the context of bankruptcy law.

Hendricks, a PREP intern and first-time presenter, commented "as a past judicial intern for Judge Isicoff of the Bankruptcy Court, I was able to apply what I learned from that experience in my presentation before the Broward Bankruptcy Bar association. It was rewarding to be on the other side of the table and speak with practicing attorneys about ethical issues relevant to their practice."

Siegal, a PREP fellow addressing issues of lawyer misconduct and judicial recusal added, “I felt that the audience truly appreciated PREP’s effort in educating the Broward Bankruptcy Bar on complex issues that arise in the unique practice of bankruptcy. It was also a great opportunity for me to further develop my public speaking skills.”

Brooks also had glowing reviews for the experience, saying, "Presenting to the Bankruptcy Bar Association allowed me to explore a niche area of the law, to network with attorneys and judges, and to collaborate with my peers on a final work product that challenged both our public speaking skills and knowledge of the law."

Bookhardt added, “The lawyers and judges of the Bankruptcy Bar Association are a great group of people. I was truly honored to be a part of this experience.”

PREP is an award-winning program, which develops continuing legal education ethics training for the legal community. The program combines the attributes of an ethics institute and an ethics clinic, and has dedicated hundreds of student hours to public service and has educated thousands of members of the Bench & Bar. In 2012, PREP was recognized by the ABA with its E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award —the leading national award recognizing programs and projects contributing to the understanding and advancement of professionalism among lawyers and judges.