Students Expand Legal Ethics Presentations in South Florida with Visits to JAMS and the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office


Paige Rivkind, Mike Kranzler, Gina RhodesPaige Rivkind, Mike Kranzler, Gina Rhodes

Miami Law’s Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program (PREP) provides a forum for students to interact with attorneys regarding the ethical challenges that confront today’s legal profession. Each year PREP adds a few new venues to its presentation roster. This year, under the guidance of PREP director, Jan Jacobowitz, the JAMS Resolution Center (JAMS) and the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office provided new opportunities for PREP.

PREP students Mike Kranzler, Gina Rhodes, and Paige Rivkind presented at JAMS and focused on ethical implications that may arise during mediation disputes, such as whether an attorney must advise her client of alternative dispute options, effective strategies for selection of a mediator, and for maintaining confidentiality, especially if mediation efforts fail.

“This was a great opportunity to hear from established, successful mediators and learn where theory and practice intersect, while also providing education to them about emerging ethical concerns in their field,” said Kranzler. “Alternative dispute resolution has become extremely prevalent in the legal field within the past twenty years so it was insightful to have a discussion regarding ethical issues that can arise outside of the courtroom,” said Rhodes.

“In my other PREP presentations, I have analyzed ethical dilemmas confronting judges and attorneys,” explained Rivkind. “The training at JAMS provided the opportunity to evaluate the ethic rules from a mediator's standpoint. It was interesting to compare the types of situations mediators confront to the issues generally arising attorneys or judges.”

At the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office, PREP students Jacqueline Frisch, Christina Margolles, and Gina Rhodes presented an ethics training on the cutting-edge use of social media as evidence, the use of social media during jury selection, and lawyers’ use of personal blogs.

“Discussing legal issues in the context of social media was interesting because it really highlighted the generation gap that sometimes exists in the use of technology in the practice of law,” said Margolles. “Some attorneys seem to have a really sophisticated understanding of cyberspace and social media, while others still interpret social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter strictly as entertainment. This dichotomy fueled an interesting debate on whether social media use should be incorporated into legal ethics obligations and to what extent.” “The issues discussed were thought-provoking, the attorneys in attendance were inquisitive, and the overall experience was enlightening,” said Frisch. “I couldn't have asked for a better experience!”

The County Attorney’s Office seemed to agree as County Attorney, Jim Allen, emailed his thanks after the program and stated, “Thank you all very much for your presentation! As I told you, I look forward to making this an annual event."

PREP is an award-winning program, which develops continuing legal education (CLE) 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.