Center for Professionalism: Law School Report Nova Southeastern University
2007 Annual Report on Professionalism
Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center
This report tracks the format of last year’s report. In general, the curriculum and extra curricular offerings of the Shepard Broad Law Center recognize professionalism as a core value of the legal profession. Professionalism is used in both senses discussed at the Fall retreat, i.e., the development of lawyering skills, including good judgment, and the teaching of right behavior (ethics, civility).
The NSU curriculum is especially rich in courses and workshops (not more than 20 students) that develop professional skills in both litigation and transactional practices. These include, inter alia, pretrial practice (civil), trial advocacy, pretrial practice (criminal), interviewing & counseling, negotiation, alternative dispute resolution, etc. in our litigation track. In the transactional track, professional skills are taught in real estate finance workshop, business planning, estate planning, legal drafting, and the like. (See the attached list of ALSV workshops.)
The following summary highlights academic offerings, programs, and services that reflect the Law Center’s commitment to produce lawyers of the highest ethical and professional caliber.
*LAW SCHOOL ORIENTATION PROGRAM
The Law Center’s first year orientation program offers entering students an introduction to the study of law. Professionalism is a key component of the orientation program.
During orientation, students participated in classroom exercises conducted by NSU law faculty. Students also received training on the latest computer technology and were introduced to the professional aspects of computer use and e-mail communications in a presentation conducted by Professor Lisa Smith-Butler, Director of the NSU Law Library and Technology Center.
During orientation small-group sessions, students interacted with professors, NSU alumni, local judges, and other members of the bar who provided students with insight into the study and practice of law. Students also met with a representative from the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, who discussed in detail the bar application process and character and fitness considerations for bar admission. Professor Randolph Braccialarghe led a discussion on bar admission and students emphasizing the need for candor. Students were provided with Professor Braccialarghe’s comprehensive booklet on applying for bar admission.
During the orientation program, students were invited to participate in two pro bono opportunities involving the ACLU Civil Rights Restoration Project and Legal Aid. They were also introduced to the ethical component of professionalism in Dean Joseph Harbaugh’s welcome speech. Students committed themselves to the ideals and aspirations of professionalism at the orientation dinner, when they took a student oath of professionalism.
- LAWYERING SKILLS AND VALUES (LSV)
FIRST YEAR PROGRAM
The first-year program combines instruction in legal research, writing, and analysis with other lawyering skills such as interviewing, counseling and negotiating, legal drafting, and pre-trial practice. It also provides instruction in professional responsibility by integrating relevant Rules Regulating the Florida Bar into the related writing, research, and lawyering skills classes, and by devoting a class to teaching how to research rules and case law on ethical issues.
The first semester focuses on transactional lawyering skills and the second semester focuses on pre-trial litigation skills, integrating legal research, writing, and analysis with ethical issues and practice skills in each client file. In order to develop case management skills, students are exposed to a variety of media while working with client files, including electronic textbooks in the classroom and print and on-line materials for legal research.
During the life cycle of a typical transactional file, students develop problem-solving strategies; conduct legal research; draft legal memoranda; and negotiate a settlement of their case. In the second semester, students reinforce these skills, interview clients, draft pleadings and correspondence, and counsel clients about mediation and other non-adversarial methods of avoiding litigation. Finally, they experience law practice first-hand when they orally argue a motion for their clients and participate in court-ordered mediation.
This first-year program is primarily electronic, with students using their laptop computers in class and at home to access the LSV syllabus on the LSV Web page and links to client file materials and supplementary reading on the Internet. Students in several sections also use the Lexis-Nexis Electronic Guide to Legal Research, a folio-based textbook installed on their laptops, and participate in threaded discussions on their professor's LSV Discussion Board. This program is designed to teach students technological proficiency to prepare them for the technological aspects of legal practice, including computer-assisted legal research used by law firms to supplement or replace book-based research, and the use of electronic media to complete transactions and to file court documents as permitted by recent legislation.
The Advanced Lawyering Skills and Values Program (ALSV) assists students in the second and third years of law school to continue developing the professional skills fundamental to the practice of law. ALSV courses include workshops and seminars focusing on the transactional and litigation aspects of law practice. These courses are taught by experienced full-time and adjunct faculty members, who guide students through challenging projects that reflect real world work situations encountered by lawyers in practice. In this innovative law office environment, students learn a variety of practice skills within the context of simulated client representation. The LSV program is currently embarking on a relationship with the Broward Bar to provide professionalism programming to first year students through this class. See Appendix for further details on ALSV.
*CLINICAL PROGRAMS [See Appendix for details]
The clinical programs at Shepard Broad Law Center offer significant opportunities for students to learn the skills and values they will need in their early years of law practice. The clinical semester includes intensive classroom instruction in doctrinal skills, and policy or interdisciplinary areas, followed by twelve weeks of in-house or external fieldwork. Each clinical program prepares students for the demands of their placement and for the ethical and professional standards with which they are expected to comply. Students may elect one of the following clinical placements:
- Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic (ADR)
Business Practice Clinic
Children and Families Clinic
Criminal Justice Clinic
Environmental and Land Use Law Clinic
International Practice Clinic
Personal Injury Clinic
*PRO BONO HONOR PROGRAM
The Shepard Broad Law Center Pro Bono Honor Program is intended to instill a tradition of pro bono work that will accompany students into their professional careers. Students are introduced to Pro Bono Activities during Public Interest Law Day, a gathering of organizations and individuals who share information about the public interest community with NSU law students. The goal of Public Interest Law Day is to educate students about how they might contribute to the legal needs of those individuals who are traditionally underserved and/or underrepresented. Approximately 80 to 100 attorneys from over 50 organizations have attended this event each of the past several years.
The Pro Bono Program recognizes students who provide pro bono legal work for public service or government organizations while enrolled in school. Students volunteering a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono service are awarded graduation honors. Seventy-seven members of the 2007 graduating class volunteered 12, 274.5 hours of pro bono service.
- 26 students performed pro bono service at the Bronze Level (50-124 hours).
31 students performed pro bono service at the Silver Level (125-299 hours).
14 students performed pro bono service at the Gold Level (300+ hours).
Attorney General-Children’s Legal Services Division
Broward County Public Defender
Broward County State Attorney
City Attorney of Coral Springs
Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida
Department of Homeland Security
Everglades Law Center
Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center
Florida Innocence Project
Ft. Lauderdale City Attorney/Prosecutor
Guardian Ad Litem-Broward County
Guardian Ad Litem-Palm Beach County
Inter-American Center for Human Rights
Judicial Staff Attorneys of the 15th Circuit
Judicial Staff Attorneys of the 17th Circuit
Judicial Mediation Program
Legal Aid Service of Broward County
Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County
Legal Services of Greater Miami
Miami-Dade County Public Defender
Miami-Dade County State Attorney
Palm Beach County Public Defender
Palm Beach County State Attorney
Put Something Back/Legal Aid of Miami-Dade Co.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
Other Pro Bono: The New Orleans Project
Last February during Winter break Prof. Linda Harrison accompanied 22 students to New Orleans to volunteer our services to the New Orleans legal community as part of the Student Hurricane Network’s post-Katrina recovery efforts. These students volunteered in the legal and community service agencies that are desperately trying to get the New Orleans residents back on their feet. We were placed with 7 different agencies and had a variety of experiences including assisting with outreach programs, conducting intake interviews in legal service agencies, accompanying New Orleans Legal Aid Center attorney’s and their clients to court, canvassing FEMA trailer park residents for possible restoration, and working with the Innocence Project to locate missing inmates.
Prof Harrison supervised a third year law student who was working for the Student Hurricane Network’s Matchmakers for Justice Project. This project matches a displaced New Orleans resident with a student volunteer. The residents are unable to transact any necessary business concerning their property located in the New Orleans 9th Ward because of a lack of legal paperwork showing them to be the owners of the property. The obligation of the student is to communicate with the assigned lawyer and resident to complete whatever papers are necessary to navigate Louisiana’s complicated succession laws and to attempt to gain proof of ownership for the resident. The project required a 10 week commitment on the part of the student. Prior to meeting the resident, the student was invited to New Orleans for training and to meet with the supervising New Orleans lawyer and displaced resident.
*THE FLORIDA INNOCENCE PROJECT
Since 1999, students and faculty of the Shepard Broad Law Center, under the direction of Professor Catherine Arcabascio, have been actively involved in The Florida Innocence Project, providing pro bono legal representation to incarcerated persons who maintain that they have been wrongfully convicted and that DNA testing will exonerate them.
*THE INTER-AMERICAN CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
The Inter-American Center for Human Rights is an organization that is committed to furthering civil and human rights. The Center houses the Asylum Research Center (ARC), which serves the legal community by providing documentation on human rights conditions to non-profit organizations, attorneys and asylum applicants. The Center and ARC are staffed by dedicated students and faculty members, with the assistance of local asylum attorneys and immigrant organizations. Students assist in preparing human rights cases in both international fora and domestic courts.
*INNS OF COURT
Students and faculty of the Shepard Broad Law Center are affiliated with the Stephen Booher Inns of Court, Broward County Chapter, and the Craig S. Barnard Inns of Court, Palm Beach County Chapter. Professor Jani Maurer serves as the Shepard Broad Law Center’s liaison and Director of the Craig S. Barnard Inn of Court. These organizations mentor law students and new attorneys and emphasize the importance of ethics and professionalism in the practice of law. The law center pays for annual memberships for ten students at each inn of court in order to enable those who might not otherwise afford it to participate.
*CAREER DEVELOPMENT LUNCH AND LEARN PROGRAMS
The Shepard Broad Law Center Career Development Office sponsors weekly Lunch and Learn Programs. These programs offer students the opportunity to discuss professional employment-related issues with representatives from the legal community.
*FLORIDA BAR PUBLIC SERVICE FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM
The Public Service Fellowship Program at NSU Law received a grant of $30,000 from The Florida Bar Foundation to fund two separate projects for students. The first is to train and use students in restitution mediation. The second is to place students in public interest organizations during the summer and school year, learning to provide professional services to those in need. More than 15 students were selected for this honor this year, and performed more than 3,000 hours of work towards this goal.
The Career Development Office has begun a program in which alumni can sign up to be mentors for law students, or volunteer their services for student programs.
Professor Michael Dale taught multiple NITA (National Institute for Trial Advocacy) programs throughout the country, which include professionalism components. Law center students act as witnesses in the Florida deposition Program and are present for discussion of the ethical issues raised by the exercises. Prof. Dale also spoke on ethical issues in the representation of children at the 2007 ACLU Florida Lawyers Conference.
Professor Michael Richmond is a diversity trainer for The Florida Bar’s Professionalism Center. Prof. Steve Wisotsky is a member of the Appellate Courts Rules Committee and the Standing Committee on Professionalism. Other professors are active in bar committees and CLE programs as well.
Just to take two examples of how professors integrate professionalism into their teaching, Professor Joseph Grohman, like many NSU professors, incorporates important aspects of professionalism in his Real Property Closing Workshop, a simulation course. He emphasizes techniques of maintaining good relations with clients, staff and other attorneys. Steve Wisotsky’s Appellate Practice Workshop emphasizes professional and ethical duties in the course of appellate representation, including, without limitation, the duty of candor to the tribunal, keeping the client informed, meeting deadlines, avoiding malpractice and the like. Many other professors follow similar or parallel paths in their workshops and courses. Perhaps the most widely offered workshop engaging students in ethical and professionalism issues is Civil Pretrial Practice, in which students simulate adversary litigation from complaint through pretrial conference.
Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) Review
Three times per year, corresponding with the administration by the Florida Board of Bar Examiners’ MPRE, NSU offers a review course for its students. This course is designed to familiarize students with the type of questions they will see on the MPRE and to refresh their knowledge of the ABA and Judicial Rules that are tested in this exam. This course is taught by one of the Professional Responsibility teaching faculty.
The Law Center headed the list of law schools with the most Hispanic degree-earners in the country, and ranks fourth among law schools enrolling Hispanics.
APPENDIX: EXCERPTS FROM THE NSU LAW CENTER WEBSITE
- Advanced Lawyering Skills and Values
Students in the litigation track will represent a mock client from the initial client interview and filing of the complaint, through discovery and motion calendar. Litigation students may also represent additional mock clients in a bench trial and all phases of an appeal. Students in the transactional track will develop skills in complex counseling, multi-party negotiation, conciliation, and document drafting. Depending upon personal interests, Transactional track students may select from a variety of skills courses related to diverse transactional practice areas. LSV I and II are prerequisites for all tracks and Evidence is a prerequisite or co-requisite course for the litigation track.
Students may also select the General Practice track, which accommodates students who are interested in developing both litigation and transactional skills. This track option may also be suitable for students who plan to work in smaller firms, where a lawyer's work often requires diverse, cross-discipline practice skills. The flexibility of the General Practice track is also a convenient choice for students who must complete prerequisites for clinics and other advanced level course offerings.
Litigation track students must take Civil Pretrial Practice and one other course designated as a Litigation track course or a course that satisfies requirements for both tracks (see chart below).
- Civil Pre-Trial Practice (required for Litigation track students)
General Practice track students may choose any two courses, with one exception. Students in this track may not use both Negotiating Workshop and Interviewing & Counseling to satisfy their track requirement.
|Advanced Professional Responsibility Workshop||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Advanced Trial Advocacy||Yes||No||Yes|
|American and Caribbean Law Workshop||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Appellate Practice Workshop||Yes||No||Yes|
|Business Planning Workshop||No||Yes||Yes|
- Winter 2008 Clinics
International Practice – Professor Jim Wilets
Important: Winter 2008 Clinical Program Information
Clinical education is an important part of the NSU Law School experience. In fact, we think clinical education is so important that each and every student who meets the clinic criteria has the opportunity to participate in one of our clinics. The Clinical Semester brings the study of law to life. Students receive quality "nuts and bolts" training from experienced professor-practitioners and distinguished guest lecturers on campus. Afterward, students participate in individualized internships where they receive in- depth, "hands on" experience in the field and one-on-one mentoring from an attorney supervisor. Each internship is unique.
Nova Southeastern University Law Clinic Interns have been placed in law offices and legal departments in South Florida, across the nation, and around the world.
We also have excellent internship opportunities available in our in-house clinics that are directed by award winning faculty members. Part-time students may also enjoy the benefits of the clinical experience because we have developed a dynamic clinical program with their demanding schedules in mind.