Students Provide Ethics Training For Legal Community


Students from Miami Law's Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program recently presented three CLE ethics training sessions for working attorneys. Housed under the Center for Ethics and Public Service, the PREP program allows law students to travel to bar associations, legal services organizations, government agencies, law firms and corporations in South Florida to provide customized education in ethics.

PREP interns Justin Ortiz and Shanelle Johnson, as well as Fellow Simona Popova, gave an interactive presentation on legal and ethical issues in immigration law at the Americans for Immigrant Justice, formerly known as the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center. The discussion began with a review of confidentiality and client referral issues, and then focused on the consequences of learning about a client's sham marriage after the conclusion of immigration proceedings. The final topic involved the ethical issues that arise when an attorney's only way of communicating with a client is through his or her spouse, and the dilemma an attorney faces when disclosing the spouse's past.

"Our presentation was an extremely engaging and challenging experience," Ortiz said. "The attorneys there are very knowledgeable in the field of immigration, and their questions pushed our own understanding of how the rules of professional responsibility apply to that field of law."

Under the supervision of director Jan Jacobowitz, PREP students also traveled to the law firm of White & Case, where students Amanda LeCheminant, Kelly Rains and Jill Martignetti provided a presentation on legal ethics issues arising in the context of joint ventures.

"This semester's training was a fantastic learning experience," said LeCheminant. "It was exciting to educate a group of competent legal professionals on this intricate area of law. I particularly enjoyed seeing the attorneys work together to identify and resolve the issues we presented. There is nothing more exciting than watching our academic research be applied in real-life scenarios."

PREP students Daniela Torrealba and Nykeah Cohen facilitated a dialogue at the Miami-Dade Public Defender's Office. It concerned the ethical implications that may arise at some point in doing case preparation, contacting witnesses, and maintaining confidentiality in the practice of law.

Robert Coppel, director of training and professionalism at the Miami-Dade Public Defender's office, described the presentation as "a top-notch training that dealt with cutting-edge ethical issues for lawyers."