The Florida Bar
Center for Professionalism: Law School Report Barry University 2007
PROFESSIONALISM ACTIVITIES AT BARRY UNIVERSITY
DWAYNE O. ANDREAS SCHOOL OF LAW
(The information below was compiled from Barry Law School’s 2006 Self Study Addressing Professionalism. Some of the events discussed may have occurred in a prior year.)
Barry University is a mission driven, independent, Catholic institution. The Law School mission seeks to provide a quality legal education within a caring environment, to assure a religious dimension in an atmosphere of religious freedom, and to provide community service. The religious dimension recognizes that individuals will experience spirituality in their own way, but demands adherence to the highest ethical and professional standards. Therefore, the Law School’s professionalism activities encompass both secular and religious activities that reflect the mission of Barry University.
Some of these activities for the academic year 2006-2007 include the following:
- The School of Law is strongly committed to instruction in professionalism, including instruction by example. Continuing an initiative beginning in the fall of 2003, the Law School included in its extended first-year orientation program, “Introduction to Ethics in the Legal Profession.” Students are given ethical situations which are law school centered and are asked to discuss how they would handle the situation (i.e., seeing a classmate cheating) from a moral, ethical and practical perspective.
- Diversity is an important part of the Barry mission. Wilhemina Tribble has been a frequent visitor to Barry Law School. A session on diversity with Ms. Tribble is part of the orientation for new students. Additionally, Ms. Tribble has facilitated programs on diversity with the faculty and staff of the Law School.
- Michael Cohen did a presentation to the whole first year class, utilizing one Torts class during the second semester, shortly after grades came out.
- The three-hour required Professional Responsibility class is taken by full-time students in the second year and in the third year of the extended division program. In addition to covering the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility and the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct, students are introduced to many outside speakers on a variety of subjects related to professionalism. Practicing attorneys from the local bar association, a staff attorney from the Florida bar, and members of the judiciary have addressed the Professional Responsibility classes and students in general.
- A panel of attorneys (criminal defense, corporate, labor, legal aid, and personal injury) addressed students on pro bono practice and ethical dilemmas that arise within their area of practice.
- An attorney who represents applicants to the Florida Bar and an applicant who has gone through the hearing process addressed the students on admission to the bar and grievance procedure.
- Barry Law School, in conjunction with St. Thomas Law School, created the Center for Earth Jurisprudence. During the past year, there have been two presentations on the CEJ. The movie, An Inconvenient Truth, was shown for all those who wanted to attend and Sister Pat did a presentation on the CEJ. The CEJ incorporates the values consistent with the mission of the University and Law School, focusing on a way to think about the universe in a value-centered, ethical paradigm.
- In addition to the required Professional Responsibility class and guest speakers invited to the School of Law, students have other opportunities to network with and be mentored by practicing attorneys. These opportunities reinforce the importance of professionalism in the practice of law.
- Students are associate members of the Orange County Bar Association and the Central Florida Association of Women Lawyers. Both organizations changed their bylaws so law students could become associate members of these organizations. Through these organizations, students are invited to attend monthly meetings and to get involved in the committee work of the organization. Barry’s Women Lawyers Association became a chapter of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers and hosted a tea with four local judges.
- Students have been invited to attend the yearly professionalism seminars organized by the Orange County Bar Association’s Professionalism Committee, free of charge.
- Students have participated in Law Week activities and other educations programs in local high school, such as Teen Parent Program (law-related classes for teen parents who get state-aid for child care which attending school).
- Law students participated in the Teen Court program and helped coach high school mock trial teams for competitions.
- For the second year in a row, a Barry Law student won the Florida Bar Professionalism Essay Contest. The Law School continues to promote the essay contest and to continue the tradition of quality submissions from Barry law students.
- Pro Bono Service is required of all students. Students must register with the Office of Career Services to verify that they have completed the 40 hour pro bono service requirement prior to graduation.
- The Law School’s commitment to public service is illustrated through projects such as the annual Pro Bono Fair that invites community organizations to visit the campus in order to educate students about pro bono opportunities. Participating organizations in the 2005 Fair included the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Orange County Mediation, Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, Orange County Bar Association Attorney Referral Service, Brevard County Legal Aid, Orlando Museum of Art, Seminole County Legal Aid, Meals on Wheels, Big Brothers Big Sisters, State Attorney’s Office of the Ninth Judicial Circuit, Metropolitan Orlando Urban League, American Red Cross of Central Florida, Orange County Teen Court, and Harbor House.
- The Law School sponsored a Pro Bono Activity Day with Habitat for Humanity.
- To reinforce the commitment to public service early in the career of students, the Law School added a Pro Bono Program to the first-year orientation. Attorneys practicing in Orange County and current law students attend orientation to discuss the significance of serving their communities.
- A commitment to Pro Bono is not for students alone. All law school faculty members are required to report their pro bono service and community work as part of their annual review with the Dean. Community service is listed in Barry’s Faculty Governance Document as a factor in faculty retention and promotion.
- The Law School has adopted an “infusion” approach to teaching professional ethics. New faculty and adjuncts are encouraged at “New Faculty Orientation” to include ethical dilemmas in their classroom teaching, regardless of the specific subject matter of the course. The Dean also asks faculty to include an ethical issue on final essay examinations in every class to the extent possible.
- Annually, the Dean has an informal review with each faculty member. Prior to the review, faculty members fill out forms covering various aspects of the criteria for promotion and tenure. Faculty members are asked to describe with specificity how they are meeting the “infusion” approach to teaching professional ethics in all courses. This informal review and discussion on ethics helps generate ideas shared with other faculty members and keeps faculty focused on their obligation to infuse ethics in their courses.
- The Student Bar Association and several student organizations annually sponsor community service activities, including school-wide clothing drives, canned food drives, a Red Cross Blood Drive on campus, Habitat for Humanity involvement, and assistance at an animal shelter.
- The Law School continues to develop and implement programs that raise student awareness about social injustices and that orient students toward public interest, such as a Social Justice and Public Interest Roundtable between faculty and students. The Law School through the Mission Effectiveness Committee in conjunction with the Black Law Student Association sponsors an annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Scholar Lecture Program.
- Barry Law School continues its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) for low income people. Every Saturday during the tax season (excluding the Saturdays on both ends of the spring break), students are on campus to assist low income people file their tax returns.
- As an example of the “infusion” approach to teaching ethics throughout the curriculum, one entire tax class is devoted to ethics in tax practice. Students are assigned readings from IRS Circular 230 which governs ethical practice before the IRS.
- The Mission Effectiveness Committee sponsors ecumenical celebrations throughout the school year as well as special Masses. An example is the annual Thanksgiving celebration called “A Time for Reflection” during which students and faculty read passages taken from poets, history books, and Scripture. Another celebration involves students and faculties of all faiths explaining their unique cultural and religious traditions during the winter holiday season. Ethical lawyering often requires time for reflection and introspection; an ability to recognize that we all have limitations and may need to consult with others who are more experienced or who present a different perspective.
- The Law School hosts a wide range of student organizations that focus on academic, professional, social justice, religious, cultural, and social interests. Student groups cultivate a collegial and inclusive environment within the Law School Community. They also promote an intellectual exchange in an atmosphere of academic freedom, foster professionalism and connections with faculty advisors, offer opportunities for interaction with representatives of the organized bar and the judiciary, encourage students to assume leadership roles, invite an exploration of faith and values in personal and professional lives, and provide students an opportunity to build enduring relationships with their peers. In addition to the pro bono activities described above, other events sponsored by the Law School have included a Voter Project that encouraged students to register to vote and to get involved in the political process and a forum by Equal Justice Works on National Association of Public Interest Law Fellowships.