Students from Miami Law's Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program, demonstrating the diverse reach of the program, presented ethics CLE trainings at the law firm of White & Case and the non-profit organization Americans for Immigrant Justice – all in the same week.
One student, PREP Fellow and recent graduate, Matthew Friendly, participated in both presentations, which provided a unique opportunity for him to explore the differences in ethical concerns at the two organizations.
"It was enlightening to hear from both audiences how the ethics rules come into play in their various practices," said Friendly. "Lawyers at non-profits and big law firms share the obligations within the ethics rules and I appreciated seeing firsthand how different organizations approach issues of professional responsibility based on their practice areas and daily concerns."
Under the supervision of PREP Director Jan L. Jacobowitz, students created customized hypothetical scenarios for each venue. At White & Case, Matthew Friendly was joined by PREP students James Lechter, Nikki Marcus, and Andrew Williams, who focused on e-discovery obligations and the ethics of dealing with uncooperative clients. They also engaged White & Case attorneys in an in-depth conversation regarding the circumstances when communications by an attorney with their firm's in-house ethics counsel would remain privileged.
"White & Case's attorneys asked sophisticated questions that brought the discussion to the leading edge of the law governing lawyers," said Lechter. "In addressing these questions, there were strong parallels between the academic approach of students and the applied method of lawyers in the enterprise level firm."
At AIJ, Friendly, along with Shanelle Johnson and Ross Militello, explored ethical issues in an immigration practice including supervisory duties of attorneys over interns, Facebook’s impact upon a lawyer’s ethical obligations, and whether attorneys may use information filled out by a client on a questionnaire for advocacy or fundraising purposes. A particular hot topic was whether an immigration attorney may use information provided by prospective clients on a questionnaire in a position paper.
"It was extremely interesting to discuss the myriad ways that information obtained from a client on a questionnaire can be used for advocacy from the firsthand experience of the AIJ attorneys," said Friendly. "I enjoyed listening to different perspectives on when attorney-client confidentiality may be breached in these circumstances and sharing my research on the ethical issues presented for immigration attorneys."