PREP Students “Weed” Between the Ethical Lines in the Cannabis Conversation

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Jennifer Perez, Carlos Alvarez, Jan L. Jacobowitz, Daniel Celaya and Amanda Fernandez

Students in the Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program and Director Jan L. Jacobowitz routinely present legal ethics CLE programs at various local bar associations and nonprofit organizations throughout the year. This semester PREP Interns Carlos Alvarez and Daniel Celaya joined the growing cannabis conversation when they presented the legal ethics implications of the legalization of medical marijuana as part of their presentations to both the Caribbean Bar Association and the Cuban American Bar Association.

Alvarez and Celaya also discussed the Florida Bar’s new CLE technology requirement and explored the concept of mindfulness as an enhancement to decision-making skills, especially in particularly stressful law firm environments.

Alvarez and Celaya led members of both local bar associations in a formal mindfulness exercise, which they learned how to conduct after successfully completing a three-credit course offered by Miami Law called “Mindful Ethics: Professional Responsibility for Lawyers in the Digital Age.”

Alvarez said the opportunity to explore a burgeoning legal ethics topic such as the implications for lawyers of the medical marijuana legislation provided an invaluable learning experience. “The legalization of marijuana in Florida is bringing a new industry, which like any area of business requires the assistance of attorneys. It is no doubt a controversial---Engaging with attorneys in a frank, animated discussion about legal ethics and its impact on the practice of law in this area was an incredible learning experience.”

Celaya was impressed with the level of engagement and energy from members throughout both presentations. “When it comes to discussions about mindfulness, attendees can really only get out of it what they put in. Everyone was open-minded about the benefits of integrating mindfulness into day-to-day decision-making. For many members, it was their first time being a part of a group mindfulness exercise and it is something that they can take home to share with their family and friends.”

PREP develops customized CLE ethics trainings that provide opportunities for students to explore diverse areas of the law and to interact with attorneys practicing in areas where unique ethical challenges confront today’s legal profession. The program combines the attributes of an ethics institute and an ethics clinic and has dedicated hundreds of student hours to public service through the education of 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. PREP students not only present legal ethics CLE's but also publish posts regarding the nation’s newest ethics opinions and cases on their blog, Legal Ethics in Motion.