PREP Presents “Life Turns on a Dime: The Impact of the Global Pandemic on the Practice of Law.”

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PREP students

The Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program wrapped up the semester with a virtual CLE webinar at the Estate Planning Council of Greater Miami. PREP director, Jan Jacobowitz, was joined by students Camila Rivero-Fernández, Zachary Schiffman, Tazio Heller, and Alec Withee for a presentation titled “Life Turns on a Dime: The Impact of the Global Pandemic on the Practice of Law.” Topics discussed included the ethical implications of virtual estate planning, handling of trust funds, and supervising attorneys in these unprecedented times.

“Even on month 8 of the pandemic, the shift to practicing law remotely continues to provide PREP students with novel professional responsibility material. From competence with using new or unfamiliar technology to supervision of attorneys working remotely, we continue to evolve and apply the rules to new scenarios,” said PREP Fellow Rivero-Fernández

“Working with Professor Jacobowitz, the PREP team and the Estate Planning Council of Greater Miami, was an invaluable experience. The presentation afforded me the opportunity to delve into the ethical issues and challenges facing attorneys in these challenging times such as the challenges of working remotely, new developments in the law, and the impact of smart technology on the practice of law. Under the guidance of Professor Jacobowitz, students are given the unique opportunity to explore and gain a deep understanding of the rules we will be required to abide by as practicing attorneys next year," said PREP Intern Schiffman.

"As the pandemic continues, everything is different," said PREP Intern Heller. "PREP presentations, like many things, shifted to Zoom. Despite the challenge, the presentation and conversation was gratifying. Presenting and educating practicing attorneys on legal ethics was an exceptional experience - few law students get that priviledge. As the world continues to change, the PREP Program and its interns rises to the challenge under the guidance of Professor Jacobowitz."

Withee, who rounded out the presentation discussing mental health issues, had this to say about his experience.

"The opportunity to present to practicing attorneys about ethical issues was something I never thought I would be able to do in law school. Fielding questions from attorneys and helping educate them on relevant ethical issues culminated a semester's worth of hard work and collaboration for my group. Although our presentation had to be virtual, it helped me gain hands-on experience and showed me how to use Zoom in a professional setting. I am confident that the skills I gained with PREP will benefit me in my future career after graduation."  

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.