Center for Professionalism: Law School Report University of Miami School of Law 07
PUBLIC INTEREST, PRO BONO AND PROFESSIONALISM
The University of Miami School of Law provides numerous opportunities for students to learn about public interest, pro bono and professionalism. In keeping with the legal profession’s obligation to serve the poor and under-represented, these courses offer students opportunities to develop and apply lawyering skills, as well as to experience working for and studying in the public interest. From student and faculty participation in pro bono work to community service programs and projects, the UM Law community is dedicated to fostering a pro bono ethic.
I. COURSE OFFERINGS
Students at the University of Miami School of Law must complete one course in Professionalism in order to graduate. The school typically offers about four classes in Professional Responsibility each year. This fall Professor JoNel Newman offered an innovative course called Ethics and Public Service in addition to our traditional courses in Professional Responsibility.
Students have numerous other opportunities to explore public interest topics at UM Law, beginning with the first-year elective, “Law and Social Justice,” through which students work in group projects to examine current issues and the work of social justice lawyers in the South Florida Area. Upper-division courses, seminars and workshops have included Mental Health Law, Environmental Law, Children and the Law, Employment Discrimination, Immigration Law, Workshop in AIDS and the Law, Workshop in Family Court Pro Se Intake, Labor Law, Family Law, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Justice, Animal Rights, Contemporary Issues in Prisoner Law, Current Issues in Bioethics, Election Law, and Fourth Amendment.
In addition, student involved in the Center for Ethics and Public Service have an opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary work on behalf of low-income individuals and communities, as well as work that promotes ethical practice and conduct. Students enrolled in the Litigation Skills Clinical placements work with public interest organizations to represent low-income individuals or with government agencies.
Litigation Skills and Clinical Placements
The Litigation Skills Program at the University of Miami School of Law offers second and third-year students the means to obtain the practical skills necessary for competent professional service. This comprehensive and rigorous training program offers students a unique opportunity to develop a full range of pretrial and trial practice skills. This is achieved through intensive simulated office, conference room and courtroom exercises under adjunct faculty members who are experienced trial lawyers and judges. The entire class meets for two hours weekly, where program faculty and invited guests present “Lecture/Demonstrations” on specific trial and pretrial techniques. Students also meet in smaller Trial and Pretrial sections each week. These are separately graded sections for which students must register simultaneously. Each student performs oral and written exercises each week and prepares for and participates in two simulated trials as a member of a two-person team.
The Litigation Skills Program integrates the pretrial skills (interviewing, pleading, discovery, investigation, motion argument, and negotiation) with the trial advocacy skills (jury selection, opening statement, direct and cross examination, objections, exhibits, and closing argument).
Litigation Skills I is a prerequisite for both Litigation Skills II and Clinical Placement. It counts as one workshop. Students who successfully complete Litigation Skills I will receive three credits for the Pretrial class and three credits for the Trial class for a total of six credits.
Each student who completes the Litigation Skills Program has the opportunity to take a clinical placement at a public interest organization or government agency of his or her choice. Under the Florida Student Practice rule, students become certified by the Supreme Court of Florida and are able to perform many attorney functions under the supervision of a licensed attorney. New Florida Supreme Court rules require that certified legal interns receive an initial clearance letter from the Florida Bar. See Chapter 17 for more information regarding this new requirement.
Students may opt to complete their clinical placement outside Miami. The Litigation Skills staff, along with the Career Planning Center and the HOPE Public Interest Resource Center, works with each student to identify placements across the country. Students must satisfactorily complete either Evidence or Analysis of Evidence to be eligible to enroll in Litigation Skills I. Prerequisite for enrollment in Litigation Skills II is completion of Litigation Skills I Litigation Skills I is the prerequisite to enrollment in the Clinical Program.
Bankruptcy Assistance Clinic
Students selected to participate in the Bankruptcy Assistance Clinic interview and counsel potential low-income clients and advocate for clients in bankruptcy court under the supervision of adjunct faculty who are practicing bankruptcy lawyers.
Center for Ethics and Public Service
The Center for Ethics and Public Services (CEPS) is an interdisciplinary clinic providing training in ethics and professional values to the School and the University as well as to the Florida business, civic, educational, and legal communities. CEPS is an interdisciplinary center devoted to the values of ethical judgment, professional responsibility, and public service in law and society and houses three live-client clinics and four community service programs. Participation in the CEPS programs is by application. For more information, see www.law.miami.edu/ceps.
CEPS offers three live-client clinics:
Children and Youth Law Clinic (CYLC)
Community Economic Development and Design Clinic (CEDAD)
Community Health Rights Education Clinic (CHRE)
Clinic students must be in good academic standing, have a proven commitment to public service, and must be a rising 2L or 3L. All clinic students must enroll in Professional Responsibility/CEPS Workshop during the fall and spring semester. In addition, CHRE clinical students and CYLC students are required to take four credits of clinical hours, and CEDAD students take three credits of clinical hours. Clinic students are required to make a one-year commitment. Students enrolled in CHRE and CYLC may be required to satisfy the Florida Student Practice Rule.
CEPS also offers four clinical programs:
Corporate & Professional Responsibility Program
Elder Law Workshop
Law, Public Policy and Ethics Program
Street Law Program
Clinical Program Students must be in good academic standing, have a proven commitment to public service, and be a rising 2L or 3L. In addition, Clinical Program Students must enroll in Professional Responsibility, CEPS Workshop (Fall and Spring Semesters) and take three credits for their clinical programs. They are required to make a one-year commitment to the program.
II. SPECIAL CENTERS AND INITIATIVES
Partnership for Professionalism
Partnership for Professionalism is a joint project of the University of Miami School of Law, the Dade County Bar Association, and its Young Lawyers Division, created for the purpose of exploring specific ethical issues encountered in the everyday practice of law. Programs, held during informal dinners scheduled twice during each academic year, consist of group discussions about hypothetical situations posing issues of civility, ethics, and professionalism. Participants at each fall and spring event include about 100-125 judges, practicing lawyers, and law students.
Now in its eighteenth consecutive year, the event features roundtable discussions. At each of 12 tables is seated typically a judge, three attorneys, and six students. Prepared scenarios that present issues of civility, ethics and professionalism were discussed at each table, followed by summations by the students coordinated by Miami attorney Steven D. Pinkert of the Pinkert Law Firm in Dadeland. In addition to the many cases handled by the attorneys in the Pinkert office, Mr. Pinkert works closely with The Florida Bar and Florida Lawyer's Assistance.
Members of the bench who participated in October included judges A. Leo Adderly, Peter Adrien, Mary Barzee Flores, Philip Bloom, Philip Cook, Robert Deehl, Ronald Dresnick, Pedro Echarte, Michael Genden, Jorge Perez, and Jeffrey Rosinek. At the most recent event in October, 2007 33 attorneys volunteered their time and talent for the table and floor discussions. The program is coordinated by Associate Dean of Students William P. VanderWyden who can be reached at 305-284-4551, or firstname.lastname@example.org
HOPE, Helping Others through Pro Bono Efforts, Public Interest Resource Center
Helping Others through Pro Bono Efforts (HOPE) is the Law School’s Public Interest Resource Center. HOPE serves as a clearinghouse for pro bono opportunities throughout the law school and in the community. It provides information regarding the many opportunities, courses, scholarships, and resources dedicated to public interest/public service. Faculty members are encouraged to collaborate with HOPE to undertake public interest initiatives and pro bono projects. Students are encouraged to use HOPE as the starting point for exploring the many public interest and pro bono opportunities available.
In addition, HOPE sponsors over 25 projects, designed to provide support, services and assistance to populations in need in South Florida and beyond. Student project leaders must be in good academic standing and have completed at least one full semester at the School of Law. All students are eligible to volunteer for HOPE community outreach and advocacy projects.
The HOPE Fellows Program enables law students to receive a stipend for work at public interest law agencies. Fellows have the opportunity to provide legal services to clients and constituencies in need. Areas of focus have included environmental, homelessness, AIDS/HIV, domestic violence, predatory lending, housing, benefits, immigration, and civil rights. Fall/Spring Fellows are required to perform a minimum of 120 hours of advocacy during the semester, while Summer Fellows commit a minimum of 240 hours of service and receive a stipend for their work. Students must be continuing students, in good academic standing and have a demonstrated commitment to public interest work. HOPE Project Leaders and Fellows serve on the Public Interest Leadership Board.
III. RECOGNITION OF STUDENT PRO BONO/ COMMUNITY SERVICE EFFORTS
HOPE Challenge: Students who complete the HOPE Challenge, by performing a minimum of 25 hours of service each year, are recognized by the Dean and the School of Law. Students who perform over 25 hours of pro bono work are eligible for transcript recognition. All hours must be logged at the HOPE Public Interest Resource Center, or online at www.law.miami.edu/hope, by the last day of classes to be applied to the current semester. In addition, HOPE presents Outstanding 1L, 2L, and 3L awards annually to students who complete the HOPE and perform the most pro bono/community service hours for the year. All awards are presented at the annual HOPE Recognition Reception each Spring.
Rising 3L Grants and Loan Reduction: Public Interest and Public Service are central to the mission of the University of Miami School of Law. The increasing costs of undergraduate and law school education has caused many law students to incur large educational debts. To offset some of this burden and to recognize outstanding students who have demonstrated a commitment to public interest/public service, the School of Law has instituted a Public Interest Grant and Public Interest Program (Loan Reduction) for rising 3Ls.
Public Interest Grant: The students must be rising 3Ls who will be enrolled in the Law School in his/her final of year of study. (An award to a joint degree student, or part-time student, will be prorated in accordance with the number of credits they are enrolled at the Law School.) Students must have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to public interest/public service and they must demonstrate financial need. Grant recipients will be encouraged to participate in the Public Interest Resource Center Leadership Board and in the University of Miami School of Law special events and programming designed to enhance public interest opportunities. Recipients will be awarded an $8,000 grant and be provided with educational and networking opportunities with the Bench and the Bar. The Public Interest Grants are for the fall and spring semesters of law school tuition and are tuition-limited.
University of Miami 3L Public Interest Program (Loan Reduction): The University of Miami School of Law has instituted a Public Interest Program to allow law students to receive an $18,000 interest-free loan during their third year. Participants who, after graduation, work in qualified public service for two years will have this loan forgiven. Participants must begin public sector employment no later than nine months after graduation and will have to provide employment verification to the Office of Financial Aid and the Assistant Dean of Public Interest and Pro Bono. Individuals will be chosen based on a demonstrated commitment to public interest and potential for contributions to public interest. The committee may consider financial need when deciding between qualified applicants.
The following are qualified public service work: (1) work on behalf of the poor or organizations whose overall mission is to assist the poor; or (2) work to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties, or public rights or in governmental, charitable, religious, civic, community, educational or other not-for-profit organizations in furtherance of the needs of underserved communities. The term “poor” is not limited to those who meet federal poverty standards but also includes “working poor.” Recipients are strongly encouraged to participate in public interest programming and events designed to enhance public interest opportunities at the School of Law. Students who do not fulfill the employment requirement will be responsible for the full amount of the loan, plus interest at the University Standard Rate.
3L Awards: Exemplary Service to the Poor: This award is given to a graduating 3L student who has performed exemplary service benefiting poor persons. The work must have been accomplished through an existing student or community organization. Qualifying work includes law-related as well as non-law-related work and may be either directly beneficial to poor persons or to a charitable, religious, or educational organization whose overall mission and activities predominately address the needs of poor persons. The term “poor” is not limited to those who meet federal poverty standards but also includes “working poor.” A qualifying student may have received academic credit or financial compensation for the work.
Innovative Service in the Public Interest: This award may be given to a graduating 3L student or to a student organization whose board membership consists significantly of graduating 3L students. Qualifying work includes the meaningful expansion of an existing program, or the creation of a new program. The award seeks to recognize innovation in addressing public interest concerns and may include (1) work for persons of limited means; (2) work that expands the work of a charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental or educational organization and addresses the needs of persons of limited means; (3) work that is designed to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties, or public rights; (4) work that expands the work of a charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, and/or educational organization; (5) work that is designed to improve the law, the legal system, or the legal profession. A qualifying student may have received academic credit or financial compensation for the work.