The Florida Bar
Center for Professionalism: Law School Report University of Florida
Annual Professionalism Report: 2007
University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law
The University of Florida’s dedication to professionalism among lawyers is implemented in three ways. First, professional responsibility is a key component of the law school’s curriculum. Second, students are exposed to a number of programs outside the classroom that emphasize their professional obligations. Finally, faculty members are heavily involved in extracurricular activities that promote professionalism in the practice of law. These three components of the College of Law’s focus on professionalism are detailed below.
A. Required Professionalism Courses and Programs
- 1. Professional Responsibility (Legal Ethics) has always been a required course at the College of Law. Beginning in the 2000-01 school year, however, the College increased the credits associated with the Professional Responsibility course from two to three credits, and moved it from the third semester to the first semester. The primary motivation for doing so was to allow better development of professional and ethical issues, at an earlier stage of legal education. The extra credit obviously permits greater coverage. Additionally, it impresses the importance of the course on the students, who were prone to perceive the two-credit professional responsibility course as less significant than their three and four credit courses. Further, positioning the course in the first semester highlights the central role of professionalism in the career of all lawyers. Although teaching professional responsibility (the ethics of lawyering) in the first semester (to students who do not yet know what “lawyering” means) does present some challenges, most of the professors who have done so believe the experience is a positive one for both faculty and students, and preferable to the previous course scheme2
2. Legal Research and Writing (in the fall) and Appellate Advocacy (in the spring) is required of all first year students. Professionalism is an integral part of both semester-long courses. Students are taught the importance of deadlines, of diligence, and of solving their legal problems through research and written communication. In the first course, emphasis is placed on the importance of avoiding careless errors, ensuring the accuracy of citations, quotations, and representations to the court, and the importance of establishing and maintaining credibility by being scrupulously accurate in presenting the facts and the law, both in writing and in oral argument. In the latter course, teachers and students discuss issues related to representing clients with whom the lawyer disagrees and the tension between candor to the court and representing the client’s interests.
3. The Tax LL.M. program requires students to attend a three-hour professional responsibility program put on by the Tax Section of the Florida Bar. The program involves three or four practitioners in different tax law areas, who lead students through three hypothetical problems. Additionally, in Federal Tax Procedure, a required course, Tax Program policy mandates that the professor routinely raise ethical issues related to tax practice. For instance, one assignment and problem set is titled “Ethical Issues in Advising Clients on Return Positions.” Several discussions center around ethical issues that arise in the course of representing taxpayers during audits. In addition there is a 90-minute lecture that focuses entirely on ethical issues.
- 4. Our Orientation curriculum incorporates ethics as a critical component. On the first day of Orientation 2007, Professor Michael Seigel gave a power-point presentation called “Introduction to Law School” that addressed, among other things, matters of ethics and honor. On the second day of Orientation, an hour block was devoted to professionalism. Each100-student section met with a faculty member (one of their first year professors) who was provided with materials to lead the discussion. In addition, another hour block was devoted to matters of diversity and good citizenship.
- 5. Selected Second-year students are required to attend an Ethics Symposium, presented (and attended) by members of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association (for them it is a CLE). This year, FSU Professor Larry Krieger spoke on the topic, Inseparability of Professionalism and Personal Satisfaction in the Practice of Law. Following his talk, students, faculty, judges, and lawyers attended break-out sessions related to different practice areas.
B. Elective Professionalism Courses:
- 1. The College of Law’s Law Practice Management and Practical Skills is now a permanent part of the curriculum. Taught by Larry Marraffino, Esq., and Andrew Adkins, Director of the College’s Legal Technology Institute, this course covers such topics as financial management, client development and advertising, ethics and professionalism, technology, software and hardware, and litigation preparation. “Ten Ways to Commit Malpractice” is one of the lecture titles. The course is open to fourth, fifth and sixth semester students.
- 2. Clinic courses also routinely discuss ethics and professionalism issues. In the Preparation for Pro Se Juvenile Clinic class, for instance, ethical issues are written into many of the simulations. As a result, a running dialogue occurs on various ethical and professionalism issues that arise in three settings: “firm meetings;” discussion with students during team meetings; and in a special class to which professional responsibility teachers are invited. The Criminal and Mediation Clinics likewise routinely delve into professionalism issues.
- 3. Advanced Techniques in Appellate Advocacy explores in depth problems relating to providing representation to clients who are hard to like, using a sexual harassment case as an illustration. It also looks at the ethics of issue selection. When, if ever, should lawyers argue issues they know won’t prevail simply to satisfy the client? Should lawyers pursue issues they believe will benefit society at the client’s expense? More direct conflicts issues are also examined in depth.
- 4. In Trial Practice (132 students this semester) a class is dedicated to Professionalism and Ethics, and a Distinguished Speaker – usually a judge – addresses another session of the class. As a regular part of the discussion on trial procedures and techniques, the class discusses the ethical boundaries of advocacy and the need to foster professionalism in the courtroom. Readings include Ligget Group Inc.v. Engle, et al (Fla. 3rd Cir.), dealing with improper remarks and improper closing argument that resulted in a reversal of one of the biggest cases in the history of the state (tobacco litigation). Additionally, the students receive a score on “professionalism” as part of their overall numerical rating in their final trials.
- 5. The College of Law also offers courses or seminars on the following topics, all of which make professionalism or professional skills a significant focus: Advanced Legal Writing; Advocacy; Complex Litigation; Interviewing and Counseling; Law, Ethics & Public Policy; Legal Drafting; and Negotiation.
- 6. Each year the College of Law sponsors scores of Externships, in which students are placed in government agencies and judicial chambers. Professionalism issues are discussed during the orientation for the extern program, and many supervising professors require further discussion of these issues in journal entries throughout the externship. In connection with the Family Law Judicial Clerk externships, substantial time is also spent on specific ethical obligations of judicial clerks.
C. Professionalism in Doctrinal Courses
A number of professors focus on ethical issues in their other courses. Here are just a few examples:
- 1. Jeffrey Davis devotes one week of his Advanced Bankruptcy class specifically to issues of professional responsibility in bankruptcy practice. In addition, because the course is taught largely by bankruptcy lawyers and judges, students are routinely exposed to professionalism issues such as respect, honesty, personal conduct, and the like. In one instance, two lawyers who are regularly pitted against one another and a judge before whom they often practice come to Gainesville to teach together. They often mention the great respect they have for one another. Through their intensely competitive but congenial conduct, they demonstrate the essence of professionalism.
2. In her first semester Torts classes, Lyrissa Lidsky included several discussions of ethical issues arising from Torts cases. For example, one case very clearly presented an issue, not raised by the court, of a conflict of interest between the insured plaintiff and her insurance company. In addition, Steve Uehfelder spoke to her Torts classes about the importance of doing pro bono work. She also regularly counsels students on professionalism issues as part of her teaching duties.
- 3. Jonathan Cohen teaches ethics topics in his Reconciliation Seminar, with about 70% of the class devoted to ethical/professionalism issues.
4. Joe Little integrates ethics ("professionalism") into all his courses, especially Torts.
5. Tom Ankersen teaches a class on billing practices in his Conservation Clinic.
- 6. In Criminal Procedure, Christopher Slobogin requires students to carry out a negotiation exercise, which is then discussed in class, with heavy emphasis on ethical issues raised by negotiating tactics, and in Mental Health Law he devotes a class to the knotty ethical issues that arise in representing clients with mental impairments, using a mock hearing as a springboard for discussion.
- 7. In both Corporations and Securities Regulation, Stuart Cohn devotes two days to lawyers' roles and responsibilities, including a heavy dose of professionalism.
- 8. In Evidence, Michael Seigel takes time out for eight to ten “professional responsibility moments” during which the ethical implications of various litigation techniques are discussed.
- 9. In her courses on Perspectives on the Family and Child, Parent & State, Barbara Woodhouse includes exercises that stress professionalism in representation of clients who are emotionally distressed or mentally impaired and negotiation exercises that explore issues of professional ethics.
D. Extracurricular Student Activities
- 1. The Center for Career Services has been actively integrating the professionalism theme throughout its work with students beginning with its initial correspondence to admitted students that specifically emphasized the importance of professionalism. Other efforts this year have included that the CCS drafted, posted on its website, and publicized its “Student Professionalism and Employment Standards” and it has woven professionalism discussions into individual counseling sessions, career programs and materials.
The office continues to administer the Pro Bono and Community Service projects which track students' volunteer activities, both legal (Pro Bono) and non-legal (Community Service). There are approximately 200 students registered as participating in the program contributing over 7000 hours thus far.
- Their activities include:
Three Rivers (Housing Clinic, DV, Elder Law), Teen Court
Congressional Research Service (DC)
Florida Institutional Legal Services
Student Legal Services
City Attorney, Atlanta Legal Aid
Miami Dade Legal Services
Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project
State Attorneys Office
Hearing Officer Program
Guardian ad Litem
8th Circuit Probate & Family divisions
Restoration of Rights Project
World Intellectual Property Organization
Southern Legal Counsel
Shands Legal Services
Navy Trial Service Office
- 2. The College of Law also sponsors several moot court teams and a Trial Team, which hone advocacy skills.
- 3. Student organizations held various programs in the past year that encouraged professionalism toward the community, including The Spring; St. Francis House (for the poor); Toys for Tots; food, coat and book drives; and the Aerion Foundation, which helps terminally ill children (with Tracy Rambo as the faculty advisor).
- 4. The College of Law sponsored representatives to the Law Student Division of ABA and local Circuit meetings.
Extracurricular Faculty and Staff Activities
The College of Law’s faculty and staff contribute to professionalism in a variety of ways. Below are a few examples.
A. Committees and Other Memberships Relevant to Professionalism
- 1. Debra Amirin is an accredited member and former president of the Florida Public Relations Association, which focuses on professionalism and ethics, particularly in its accreditation process.
2. Andy Adkins was appointed as a Trustee to the College of Law Practice Management. The College of Law Practice Management was formed in 1994 to honor and recognize distinguished law practice management professionals, to set standards of achievement for others in the profession, and to fund and assist projects that enhance the highest quality of law practice management. The College and its Fellows inspire excellence and innovation in law practice management by:
- Honoring extraordinary achievement
Developing, exchanging and disseminating knowledge
Stimulating innovation in the delivery of legal services
Adkins is also a member of the ABA/Law Practice Management Section Publication Board Committee. The purpose of this committee is to determine popular topics in Law Practice Management, work with prospective and current authors, and evaluate books to be published by the ABA Law Practice Management Section.
Member of the Board of the Florida Innocence Project, and a Member of the ABA Special Committee on Gun Violence.
4. John Plummer is the law school’s representative for the Florida Bar’s CLE Committee. He participated in the Committee meeting at the Bar Meeting in June and attended a Committee Workshop.
5. Terry Rogers is the President of the Board of the Florida Health Freedom Coalition. In this capacity, he recently represented the state of Florida at the annual conference of the National Health Freedom Coalition, a non-profit organization created to secure and protect the rights of citizens to the health care of their choice. The three day conference was held at the William Mitchell School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota on October 12-14.
6. Peggy Schrieber serves on the Eighth Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee
- 7. Michael Seigel is a member of the Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Professionalism and the Florida Bar’s Task Force on the Attorney Client Privilege. He is currently serving as a member on the National Federation of Paralegal Association’s Ethic’s Board for a 2 year term ending July 2009.
1. Leonard Riskin gave a luncheon speech at a conference on Ethics in ADR at So. Texas College of Law. My talk is entitled "Awareness and ADR Ethics" in November 2007.
2. Michael Seigel testified before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee during a hearing on waiver of the attorney-client privilege in the corporate white collar crime setting in September 2007. He also presented an ethics lecture to the National Federation of Paralegal Associations during its national convention Tampa, Florida, in October 2006.
- 3. A number of professors, including Martin McMahon, taught CLE programs in Florida or elsewhere during 2005-06.
C. Publications and Works-in-Progress on Professionalism Topics
1. Michael Seigel published Some Preliminary Statistical, Qualitative, and Anecdotal Findings of an Empirical Study of Collegiality Among Law Professors, 13 Widener Law Review 1 (2006), which addresses matters of professionalism and collegiality among law professors. He also has an article coming out shortly in the Boston College Law Review entitled, Corporate America Fights Back: The Battle Over Waiver of the Attorney-Client Privilege. Additionally, he signed a contract with Carolina Academic Press to edit and contribute to a book entitled, Injustice: Lessons Learned from the Duke University Lacrosse Players’ Rape case, which will include chapters about prosecutorial misconduct.
- 2. Lars Noah publishes a casebook titled, Law Medicine, and Medical Technology: Cases and Materials, in which a lengthy exercise focuses on professional responsibility issues in the regulatory setting.
Faculty members routinely serve on pro bono committees and projects. No recent inventory of this activity has been taken, but an excerpt from the College of Law’s 2003 self-study report provides examples of the kinds of pro bono work in which the faculty engages:
- “In the past seven years, the faculty currently at the College of Law has been heavily involved, pro bono, in scores of international, national, state and local endeavors, only a few of which will be noted here. At the international level, faculty members have: consulted with U.S.A.I.D. on money laundering and forfeiture; co-chaired the Annual Program Committee of the American Society of International Law; served as Executive Director of the American Section of the International Association of Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy; served as the principal organizer of the 50th Jubilee Seminar of the International Court of Justice; co-founded the Makerere University Human Rights & Peace Center; served as a USIS Clinical Legal Education Consultant for Uganda; consulted with CEELI on the Draft Law of the Police for the Republic of Montenegro; served as an Executive Council member of the International Society of Family Law; and served as the Director of the American Society of Comparative Law.
- At the national level, faculty served as members of: the Law School Admission Council’s Test Development and Research Committee; the Genetic Ties Project; the AAUP’s Work and Family Subcommittee of the Committee on the Status of Women in the Academic Profession; a National Institute of Medicine committee charged with developing a framework for conducting safety evaluations of dietary supplements; the Committee on Democratic Communications; the Second Circuit Task Force on Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts; the Board of Trustees of LatCrit, Inc.; the Council of the Society for the Policy Sciences; the Board of Directors of the PIOOM Foundation; and the Executive Committee of the National Association for Public Interest Law. Faculty have also served as chair of the Internet and Cyberspace Committee of the American Intellectual Property Law Association; as an Arbitrator with the International Commercial Arbitration Moot; and as consultants for: Congress on federal legislation regarding a national tobacco settlement; the FDA Chief Counsel; the National Rails to Trails Conservancy; and the U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation.
- Faculty have also been very active with the ABA and the AALS since 1996. Within the ABA, faculty have served as chair of the Committee on Teaching Taxation (Tax Section); chair of the Antitrust Committee (Administrative Law Section); chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Law School Outreach (Criminal Justice Section); chair of the Cybertax (Technology) Committee of the Tax Section; chair of the International Law Section; vice-chair of the Food & Drug Law Committee (Administrative Law & Regulation Practice Section); and vice chair of the Committee on Negotiation (Section on Dispute Resolution). Faculty also served as members of: the ABA’s Committee on Federal Regulation of Securities; the Committee on Tax Structure and Simplification; the Employee Benefits Committee of the Tax Section; an expert panel consulting on the ABA’s Benchbook for Judges on Psychiatric Evidence; the ABA’s Task Force on Law Enforcement and Technology (as the Reporter); the Law Library Facilities of the Law Library of Congress Committee (Section on Legal Education); and ABA site visit teams. In the AALS, faculty members chaired the Sections on Criminal Justice; Jewish Law; Property; Socioeconomics and the Law; and Tax; and served as members of the Committee on Libraries and Technology; the Committee on Sections and Annual Meeting; the Committee on Bar Admissions and Lawyer Performance; the Committee on Recruitment and Retention of Minority Law teachers; and the Committee on Best Scholar Paper, 2003.
State and local service within the last seven years is harder to catalogue because it comes in so many varieties and is so widespread. One professor made several pro bono appellate arguments in front of the Florida Supreme Court and other Florida and federal courts; another was a founding member of the Florida Attorneys’ Bar Association, Inc.; one served on Florida’s Constitutional Revision Commission; another was the president of Florida Defenders of the Environment; and another served on the Board of Directors of Florida Institutional Legal Services. Within the Florida Bar, faculty members have chaired the Committee on Corporations and Securities and the Bankruptcy/UCC Committee. They have also participated in the following organizations: the Executive Council of the Florida Bar Business Law Section; the Family Law Rules Committee, the Governors’ Task Force on Domestic Violence; the Florida Bar and Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Professionalism Committees; and the Florida Bar Review Passing Standard Study.”