Standing Committee on Professionalism Project along with the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism
2013-2014 Law School Reports
The Standing Committee on Professionalism and the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism desires to see professionalism and civility inculcated into law students throughout law school as they interact with faculty, members of the bench, bar, the public and even clients under supervision. To foster an exchange of ideas and programs within the academy, the Annual Law School Report was reinstated in 2012 by the Standing Committee on Professionalism. This report seeks to gather information regarding professionalism efforts that are taking place within the 12 Florida law schools. As the profession continues to grow, it is imperative that law schools remain dedicated to developing their students in a manner that will ensure the students practice with professionalism and civility upon graduation. Based upon information contained within these reports, nine Florida law schools introduced professionalism at orientation with several of those schools administering an oath of professionalism or the Honor Code Pledge to students. All of the Florida law schools infused professionalism in their curriculum and offered other initiatives to promote professionalism.
Ave Maria School of Law
Ave Maria School of Law is finding numerous ways to encourage its law students to understand the importance of professionalism in the legal profession. During orientation the Deans of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs discuss professionalism and a representative from The Florida Board of Bar Examiners talks about the character and fitness portion of the bar application. Ave Maria also promotes professionalism in the Student Handbook. As a group the students recite the Honor Code before signing their pledge. Apart from “Professional Responsibility,” many faculty members have found ways to encourage professionalism by incorporating “Professionalism Points” in their syllabi and therefore make professionalism one of the factors by which students are evaluated. Ave Maria supports public service projects as another way to help students understand the importance of professionalism.
Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law
Barry University believes that professionalism is an integral part of the legal profession and that is why the university instituted the Student Professionalism Enhancement Program in 2009. The program better prepares law students to utilize professionalism skills in both law school and in the future practice of law. Barry law students are introduced to professionalism in the first week of law school at orientation where students learn about the various aspects of professionalism, how it affects their role as law students, and how professionalism skills are essential as they become members of the legal profession. Each student is required to complete six hours of professionalism credits before graduating. This helps prepare the law students for their continuing legal education courses when they become practicing attorneys. Through more than 40 student organizations, Barry provides students plenty of extracurricular activities that will help them understand the major components of professionalism – balance and commitment to service.
Florida Coastal School of Law
To promote professionalism at Florida Coastal School of Law, all first year law students are mandated to attend a session on “Professionalism in the Classroom, on the Campus, and in the Community” as well as “Managing Your Online Presence.” Florida Coastal’s dedication to professionalism continues past students first year as many courses factor professionalism points into the final grade. To integrate professionalism in courses, other professors at Florida Coastal require students to attend conferences with the professors where the students had to be prepared to discuss the conference topic. In August 2013, the Florida Coastal School of Law co-sponsored the “Jacksonville Bar Association Professionalism Symposium,” which received Florida Bar CLE credit. Approximately 100 law students attended the symposium and learned about professionalism issues in certain areas of practice and how these issues should be addressed. At graduation, Florida Coastal recognizes a student who best exemplifies professionalism and ethical behavior throughout his or her law school experience with the Phyllis Stansell Ethics and Professionalism Award. The recipient is determined by a vote of the graduating class from a short list of candidates who qualify for the award based on the determination of a review committee of faculty, students, and staff.
Florida International University College of Law
Florida International University College of Law has responded to the concerns of the Florida Supreme Court and The Florida Bar regarding the trends of legal education that fail to emphasize the legal skills, values, and ethics of law students by developing the “Pathway To The Profession Initiative.” This initiative assists law students academically and professionally starting prior to orientation and continuing after graduation. The purpose of the initiative is to create a platform for the law students to gain exposure to a number of critical subjects within seminars and workshops to prepare students for the unique challenges of law school and how to manage such demands in a strategic and effective manner. Topics offered in seminars include completing the bar application, mindfulness and wellness, career development, and a workshop addressing professionalism, ethics, and civility.
FIU Law administers a Professionalism Oath and First Year Pledge to all new students, and this year adopted a pervasive approach to integrating professionalism into all courses. For example, “Professionalism, Ethics and the Legal Profession” is designed to enhance the student’s understanding of the legal profession and its standards by exposing law students to lectures by distinguished members of the bench and bar. The course studies the professional identity, values, roles and the attendant responsibilities and duties owed to clients, the practice and society as a whole. FIU Law also offers pre-law webinars and summer professionalism workshops to provide students with an early understanding of law school’s demands and the practice’s expectations as early as possible. Sessions include “Ethical Lawyers and Self-Identity: What are You Claiming about Yourself When You Say, ‘I am a Lawyer’?” and “1L to 1L: Reflections on the First Year of Law School.”
Additionally, FIU Law has an established Center for Professionalism and Ethics to provide practical skills and professionalism training and it has established a relationship with The Florida Bar’s Center for Professionalism to house an online professionalism resource center.
Florida State University College of Law
Florida State University College of Law’s professionalism activities reflect the commitment to professionalism as a vital part of legal education. FSU College of Law holds a two-day first year orientation, where the new law students are exposed to the themes of professionalism, civility, and ethics. These principles encompass the everyday issues of the profession, such as social media, interaction with prospective employers and clients, and personal and professional reputation. To graduate, students must complete 20 hours of pro bono service. One goal of this requirement is that through this experience students will learn the value of contributing positively to the profession by providing legal services. Part of this requirement includes an online orientation where students are introduced to relevant Florida Bar Rules of Professional Conduct. The “Pervasive Method” teaches professionalism in courses throughout the curriculum, externships and clinics. Additionally, students have the opportunity to get involved in more than 30 extracurricular activities including the Student Bar Association, which was recognized by the ABA’s Law Student Division as the SBA Chapter of the Year this past August.
Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center
The Shepard Broad Law Center at Nova Southeastern University instills the importance of professionalism at orientation during a professionalism workshop. A panel of representatives from The Florida Board of Bar Examiners, the local bench and bar and NSU Law faculty assist the law students in identifying the challenges to professional conduct and behavior. To further encourage professionalism, The Florida Bar’s Oath of Admission was taken at the beginning of the orientation.
Professors in the Lawyering Skills and Values program organized, “The Importance of Professionalism in Adversarial Legal Writing: A Judicial Roundtable Discussion,” at the Broward County Courthouse. This event reinforced the importance of professionalism in persuasive legal writing and highlighted the need to strike a balance between zealous advocacy and professionalism.
To promote professionalism, NSU Law’s Career and Professional Development Office (CPDO) requires all students to sign a Student Professional Agreement, which informs students of the need to be honest, reliable, and show respect. The CPDO also hosts weekly lunch presentations that consist of one or two speakers from various legal backgrounds. Speakers at events like “Table Talk Tuesdays” or “Workshop Wednesdays” are encouraged by the CPDO to discuss ethics and professionalism. Further the CPDO awards students a “Dean’s Certificate of Professionalism” based upon “professionalism points” earned from attending and participating in presentations and events. The Office of Alumni Relations sponsors a mentoring picnic for students to meet practicing alumni mentors to learn about day-to-day life as an attorney and how to handle difficult situations.
St. Thomas University School of Law
St. Thomas University School of Law introduces the professionalism component of legal practice to its students at orientation, with an emphasis on the required the character and fitness review. The preamble to St. Thomas’s Honor Code defines the professionalism expectations for the law school and the Code sets out a comprehensive framework for acceptable professional behavior.
During the past fall semester, St. Thomas sponsored a “Professionalism Day” to acquaint students with the expectations of the legal profession. Prominent practitioners were invited to share their perspectives of practicing law and the Career Services Office co-sponsored a Lunch and Learn on “Civility and Professionalism.” St. Thomas also sponsored and participated in the Peter T. Fay Inns of Court in Miami-Dade County and the Steven R. Booher Inns of Court in Broward County to instill and teach professionalism to the law students. Law students are also required to participate in a pro bono program in which students contributed in excess of 23,000 hours last year.
Stetson University College of Law
Stetson University College of Law’s Mission, Vision and Core Values Statement includes that the College is committed to professionalism, ethics, civility, mutual respect and integrity. A Professionalism Luncheon is provided at orientation for new law students to come and hear guest speakers discuss the importance of practicing with professionalism. Law students also read the Academic Honor Code and sign the Code of Student Professionalism and Conduct stating that they will be professional at all times. Beyond the required “Professional Responsibility” course, Stetson’s College of Law also offers specialized courses, such as “Business Ethics” and “Ethics and the Practice of Criminal Law” as a way to instill professionalism principles in the law students. Stetson also offers a Career Development Planning series which offers students weekly presentations on a wide range of professionalism topics as well as topics regarding transition to the real world after law school. Also, students can earn a Leadership Development Certificate upon graduation by attending 10 hours of workshops. In addition to several professionalism awards given by the faculty, two students of Stetson received awards for their writing in regards to professionalism in state competitions.
The Thomas M. Cooley Law School
To promote professionalism to its law students, students are oriented to the importance of attorney ethics and professionalism through a program at orientation called “Professionalism in Action.” The goals of the program are to discuss Cooley’s Honor Code and Disciplinary Procedures, Cooley’s Commitment to Honor, Cooley’s Professionalism Portfolio, and Cooley’s Professionalism Plan. The Professionalism Portfolio offers each student the opportunity to participate in a professional development program and create a professionalism portfolio that requires self-reflection and training in personal responsibility, ethics and service and documents the student’s professional identity development. The Portfolio can be shared with prospective employers to provide insight into the student’s character, mastery of lawyer skills and service.
Cooley Law School has also developed “Professionalism Principles” that are essential for law students to succeed. The principles are to be accountable, to be professional, to serve the community, to focus on students, and to promote an ethical school community. Cooley has integrated professionalism in its courses by expressing to students that attendance is required, that they should be on time and prepared, that they conduct themselves professionally and routinely bringing substantive ethics issues to light in discussion of the law they are teaching. Additionally, students had the opportunity to attend a seminar in September 2013 on the topic of “Professionalism in Action: Why Does Diversity Matter?”
University of Florida Levin College of Law
The University of Florida Levin College of Law introduces professionalism in the first moments of orientation where the Dean welcomes students and discusses the profession as well as its expectation. Professionalism continues as a theme of orientation in day two where faculty present “Professionalism in the Law School Community and the Profession,” which introduces the importance of the role that lawyers have in serving clients and society, before the Oath of Professionalism is administered. Professionalism is addressed in the Honor Code and the College of Law’s Mission Statement.
In the required first year courses, “Introduction to Lawyering and the Legal Profession,” and “Legal Writing” and “Appellate Advocacy,” students are taught the importance of professionalism, developing an ethical professional identity, meeting deadlines, due diligence, and legal problem solving through research, written communication and guest speakers. A “Professional Practices Seminar” focuses on real-world ethical and moral issues arising in law practice to help students be better equipped to face controversial situations.
UF Law also promotes professionalism through multiple workshops and seminars the past year, including the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association Professionalism Symposium, the Law and Justice Conference, and the First Annual Joe Milton “Civility Matters” Luncheon. Additionally, student organizations, in partnership with the law school administration, have organized the third annual “Professionalism Week” to provide advice regarding the professional expectations of the legal profession.
University of Miami School of Law
To implement professionalism at orientation, the Dean emphasizes that a student’s professional life begins on the first day. At orientation, students are acquainted with the importance of a professional demeanor in all of their undertakings.
The University of Miami School of Law has found ways to integrate professionalism in its courses. In the Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program (PREP), which develops CLE training programs for the legal community, the law students benefit from exploring cutting edge ethics issues such as outsourcing, social media, e-discovery, and technology. Additionally UM offers its students the unique Mindfulness in Law Program that includes courses and workshops on “Mindfulness in Law,” “Mindful Ethics,” “Mindfulness and Leadership” to help law students achieve balance and success.
The Partnership for Professionalism Program, a bi-annual meeting and dinner attended by about 120 judges, attorneys and law students is heralded by local judges and attorneys as an excellent training program. The program brings a judge, three attorneys and six students seated together at each table to discuss prepared scenarios of civility, ethics and professionalism.