PREP Kicks Off the Semester at the Caribbean Bar with a Focus on Lawyer Well-Being

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Every year, Miami Law’s  Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program visits with the Caribbean Bar Association (CBA) to present customized CLE ethics trainings. This year, the Caribbean Bar asked PREP to include lawyer well-being in the presentation. PREP director Jan L. Jacobowitz, PREP fellow Daniel Celaya, and PREP interns Maria Camila Hernandez, Geoffrey Marcus, Brett Silverberg, and Zach Sonenblum studied the recent ABA Task Report on Lawyer Well-Being and added it to the presentation, which also included medical marijuana, Bitcoin, and the use of Artificial Intelligence in the practice of law. 

PREP students with Director Jan Jacobowitz and Caribbean Bar Officers

To foster discussion on these topics, PREP interns presented three interactive hypotheticals. Act I, led by Hernandez and Marcus, gave rise to a discussion regarding the representation of the cannabis client, as well as the deteriorating mental well-being of attorneys. To conclude the discussion, Celaya led the group in a mindfulness meditation, providing an example one of the  wellness tools suggested in the ABA report.

“This was a unique opportunity to explore how legal ethics will impact lawyers representing clients in the medical marijuana industry by engaging and discussing the issue with members of the legal community.” said Hernandez. 

“Deteriorating well-being has become a serious concern in our profession. It was important to create an open forum for lawyers to discuss this pertinent topic and the need for a change in the culture,” said Marcus.

Act II, led by Silverberg, presented the question of whether lawyers can accept Bitcoin as payment in exchange for legal services. “I greatly enjoyed raising awareness with respect to the legal implications of accepting Bitcoin in exchange for legal services. I found our discussion to be highly relevant, especially in light of the recent Bitcoin frenzy,” said Silverberg.

Presenting Act III, Sonenblum discussed the potential ethical issues related to the use of artificial intelligence in providing legal services. “While it may scare some attorneys that AI machines are able to accomplish certain tasks faster than humans, the programs out there today are just the beginning, and lawyers should consider implementing AI within the confines of the Rules of Professional Conduct,” said Sonenblum.  

PREP is an award-winning program that develops continuing legal education ethics training for the legal community. The program combines the attributes of an ethics institute and an ethics clinic, has dedicated hundreds of student hours to public service, and has educated thousands of members of the Bench & Bar. During training, students are often able to make a positive impact on attendees by prompting them to consider and reconsider their approaches to some of the toughest ethical dilemmas that may arise in the practice of law.
 
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 training, throughout the semester PREP students publish blog posts regarding the nation’s newest ethics opinions. The blog, Legal Ethics in Motion, can be found here.