PREP Visits Local Bar Associations to Discuss Legal Ethics & Technology Hot Topics


Every year Miami Law’s Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program visits various South Florida bar associations to present customized CLE ethics and technology trainings that explore ethical dilemmas that confront practitioners. This semester PREP director, Jan L. Jacobowitz, PREP fellow Spencer Booth, and PREP intern Michael Zilber returned to South Miami Kendall Bar Association to discuss social media and advertising. PREP also added the Broward County Bar Association to its schedule where students, Alice Kerr, Ten Stallings, Franco Della Torre, Shawn Wilbourne, Rebekah Molasky, Chandler Culwell, and Jose Paez presented a two-hour program that included a range of “smoking hot topics.” 

Jose Paez, Alison Smith, BCBA Board Member, Shawn Wilbourne, Rebekah Molasky, Alice Kerr, Franco Della Torre, Chandler Culwell, Ten Stallings

The PREP SMKBA team designed and presented two interactive hypotheticals. Booth presented Act I, which featured various scenarios involving an attorney who has started a private practice and encounters issues with advertising for new clients and adapting to new technology. This facilitated a lively conversation on what constitutes an advertisement and how the Ethics Rules interact with social media.

“I had a wonderful time presenting to the South Miami Kendall Bar Association," said Booth. "We had a great discussion regarding the intersection of today’s technology and the practice of law."
Zilber presented Act II, which raised issues related to a lawyer’s duty to investigate and monitor their client’s social media accounts. “I really enjoyed presenting on attorneys’ duty to investigate their client’s social media accounts and the role attorneys can play when advising their clients what to post on social media. This topic remains fresh and it really got the attorneys thinking, discussing, and providing their respective inputs and opinions,” said Zilber.

At the Broward County Bar Association Kerr and Stallings tackled technology in the practice of law, Della Torra explained the ethical issues arising in accepting bitcoin for attorney fees, Wilbourne discussed legal ethics and cannabis representation, Molasky highlighted the infiltration of social media into various aspects of litigation, and Culwell and Paez concluded the program with insights about lawyer well-being. The diversity of topics was well received by a small, but highly interactive audience. Some of the students reflected on the experience, which was the first presentation for most of them. 

“Sometimes the biggest gifts come in small packages," said Kerr. "The smaller, intimate atmosphere in which we presented our Ethics CLE to members of the Broward County Bar gave us the opportunity to answer specific questions and to ask our own questions.  The attorneys present represented areas of law from solo practice to in-house counsel of larger firms. This gave us great perspective from those 'in the know.' Additionally, their appreciativeness for our efforts and willingness to converse afterward made me feel part of a professional community that cares about its future.”  

"It was great discussing the legal implications of digital currency and blockchain with attorneys from various areas of practice," said Della Torre. "It was very rewarding experience to be able to discuss the Florida Board's ethical rules and ethical opinions from around the nation to address the best practices that apply to this new and innovative technology." 
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.