PREP Explores Legal Ethics & Digital Afterlife with Estate Planning Council


Each semester, the Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program (PREP) expands its programming to new venues. This semester Director Jan Jacobowitz and PREP students Alexandra Lavelanet, Katerina Oña, and Janelly Crespo visited the Estate Planning Council of Greater Miami to address the ethical implications of digital estate planning, representation of spouses, and fiduciary duties to third parties.

Oña presented the myriad of issues arising in estate planning as a result of digital assets. The presentation “afforded [her] the opportunity to familiarize [herself] with timely ethical and legal issues affecting the trusts and estates community. Engaging practicing attorneys in a lively discussion about the issues was not only rewarding, but educational.”

Crespo and Lavelanet each explored the more traditional areas of conflicts of interests among the various parties involved in both estate planning and the distribution of assets.

“I enjoyed being able to challenge myself to learn a new and complex area of law and present to practicing attorneys in the community,” said Lavelanet. “This experience allowed me to hone my research, writing, and oral communication skills in a useful as well as exciting way.”

“Having the opportunity to research and discuss critical issues affecting the estate planning community was an insightful experience,” said Crespo. “It is truly interesting to see the ethical issues implicated by the practice of trusts and estates.”

After the presentation, Charles Sachs, the President of the Estate Planning Council, thanked PREP and noted, “it was impressive to see the student’s knowledge and dedication in preparing the topics.” The Estate Planning Council of Greater Miami has invited PREP to return in February 2016 to address additional ethical issues, including social media.

PREP develops customized CLE ethics trainings thereby providing 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. 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. In addition to presenting ethics trainings, throughout the semester PREP students publish blog posts regarding the nation’s newest ethics opinions and cases. The blog, Legal Ethics in Motion, can be found here.