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Law School Reports

Standing Committee on Professionalism Project along with the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism


2012-2013 Law School Reports

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. The Standing Committee on Professionalism and the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism desire to instill professionalism and civility into students before they enter the profession while they are yet still impressionable. Nine Florida law schools introduce professionalism at orientation with three of those schools administering an oath of professionalism to students. There are currently nearly 10,634 JD students enrolled in law school in Florida. In 2012, nearly 3,905 hopefuls sat for The Florida Bar Exam. It is no secret that this profession is growing and continues to grow and the law schools are dedicated to grooming their students to be professional and civil once they enter the profession.

Ave Maria School of Law External Link
Professionalism is stressed from the beginning of law school to students at Ave Maria School of Law. At orientation the Dean of Academic Affairs, the Dean of Student Affairs, and representatives from The Florida Bar make a presentation to help students understand professionalism and the character and fitness process. The Ave Maria School of Law Honor Code is published in the Student Handbook and students are provided the opportunity to demonstrate commitment to the code by verbally reciting it as a community at a special ceremony. Many courses at Ave Maria incorporate Professionalism Points into the grading scheme as one factor to evaluate students. Ave Maria also seeks to get professionalism across to its students by hosting speakers throughout the year. Recently, the Honorable John E. Steele was the speaker for the Ave Maria Law Review banquet and included a discussion of professionalism in his talk. The school presents the “Mary, Queen of Lawyers Award” at graduation, which is presented to the student whose life and learning shows that the student is the person the school would choose to defend it in the most important judgment of all.

Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law External Link
Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law embraces the idea of professionalism throughout its mission, objectives, curriculum, and programming. Beginning with the Fall 2012 class, the School of Law began to require students to participate in six hours of Professionalism Enhancement as a way to be sure students were exposed to more than the minimal standards of professional conduct. Apart from this new graduation requirement, the School of Law educates its students on professionalism in seminars and in the classroom. During orientation, students learn the various aspects of professionalism and how professionalism skills are essential in both the classroom and legal profession. In the classroom, professors are encouraged to adopt the “infusion” approach to teaching professional ethics by including ethical decisions in their classes. In some classes, students can receive professionalism points as extra credit. In addition to basic professional skills that may be acquired through classes such as “Professional Responsibility,” the law school also requires students to complete a professional skills course.

Florida A&M University College of Law External Link
Florida A&M University College of Law believes the cultivation of professionalism entails the nurturing of an attitude of respect and responsibility, or “caring.” The College of Law encourages an atmosphere in which faculty interact with students in ways to teach professionalism in a manner in which students will understand the importance of the concept. This atmosphere begins at orientation where students take part in a one-half day professionalism program where faculty, judges, and lawyers lead a plenary session and then a breakout session that includes video vignettes that raise professionalism issues. Through its classes, the College of Law also seeks to educate students on the importance of professionalism by weaving it into the material so the students gain an understanding that the interests of the client are paramount. Also, the College of Law uses seminars and mentoring programs. Students participate in the Orange County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Law Student Mentoring Program which helps students learn about different issues that develop on the job and have the opportunity to attend different activities and CLE events with their mentor.

Florida Coastal School of Law External Link
A central mission of Florida Coastal School of Law is to develop and maintain a challenging academic environment guided by core values. One value that Florida Coastal seeks to instill in its students is professionalism. To be eligible for graduation, students must attend four professionalism workshops throughout their first two years on campus. These workshops focus on classroom etiquette; courtroom etiquette; professional dress, multiculturalism, and substance abuse; and professional communications, including online presence. Students must also earn three additional Continuing Professionalism Education credits, which are earned by attending workshops held throughout the semester related to professionalism and pressing issues in the field. Florida Coastal encourages students to participate in the Shadow Program, which allows students to see how judges and attorneys handle daily practice activities and professionalism issues encountered on the job. Additionally, Florida Coastal was awarded the HandsOn Schools Award from HandsOn Jacksonville for volunteer work performed in 2012.

Florida International University College of Law External Link
After hearing concerns from both The Florida Bar and the Florida Supreme Court over trends relating to the lack of legal skills, values, and ethics displayed by students and recent graduates of law schools, Florida International University College of Law initiated a proactive approach to eliminate this problem in the future. FIU Law recently developed a First Year Academic, Ethics and Professionalism Training Program (ADEPT Program). This mandatory program is composed of targeted workshops that address areas including academics, career planning, ethics, values, wellness, and overall professionalism. The ADEPT Program seeks to educate students not only on the issues that they will be faced with once they join the legal world upon graduation but also the challenges that they will come face-to-face with as a student. Following completion of their first year, students at FIU Law are provided the opportunity to continue their professional education through classes such as “Professionalism, Ethics, and the Legal Profession,” “Alternative Dispute Resolution,” “Negotiation,” and “Mediation.” Additionally, FIU Law arranges a distinguished lecturer series as well as various workshop series for students.

Florida State University College of Law External Link
Florida State University College of Law displays its continuing commitment to professionalism as a vital part of legal education through various activities that students encounter during their time in law school as well as before starting law school. The College of Law offers an undergraduate program that serves to introduce students to the challenges that will be encountered during law school. The program features a session devoted to professionalism as well as an opportunity to network with role models in the profession. The College of Law introduces the concept of professionalism to its new students at orientation. On the second day of orientation, professionalism is the main topic and the College of Law invites attorneys to come provide incoming students with thoughts on the importance of professionalism. The College of Law also seeks to educate its students on the value of contributing to the profession by requiring each student to complete 20 hours of pro bono work prior to graduation. Beyond the course of “Professional Responsibility,” the College of Law professors discuss professionalism issues throughout the curriculum of other courses. Additionally, the College of Law fosters a mentoring atmosphere between student organizations and various lawyer organizations. For example, the Women’s Law Symposium has an active mentoring program with the Tallahassee Women Lawyers and the newly formed student chapter of Cuban American Bar Association has a mentoring program with CABA.

Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center External Link
Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center strives to educate its students about the importance of professionalism both in and out of the classroom. Within the classroom setting, professors stress not only the law but also professionalism issues seen within the cases. Professors bring these issues to life by having role-plays in which students act as the different parties in the dispute. The Career and Professionalism Development Office (CPDO) offers students weekly presentations during lunch where practitioners are encouraged not to discuss only their area of practice but also focus on the professional and ethical issues faced on the job. Additionally, the CPDO awards a “Dean’s Certificate of Professionalism” to students who earn a set number of points by attending speaker presentations. NSU Law also offers a Pro Bono Honors Program for students excelling in volunteer legal work with either a public service or government organization while in law school. NSU Law’s alumni office seeks to educate alumni and others on professionalism by sponsoring seminars in which attorneys can receive CLE credit.

St. Thomas University School of Law External Link
St. Thomas University School of Law has integrated professionalism into every aspect of its students’ law school careers. Students are first introduced to professionalism within the legal environment at orientation where the students hear about professionalism expectations at the school as well as the character and fitness portion of the Bar. Throughout all classes at the School of Law, professors integrate professionalism and real world situations into the class. Courses with a particularly dominant professionalism theme include “Professional Responsibility,” “Ethics and Social Policy,” “Law and Bioethics,” “Moral Dilemmas.” Outside of the classroom, the School of Law offers a “Lunch and Learn” program coordinated by the Career Services Office to educate students on various substantive areas of practice and issues that potentially could be encountered. Additionally, the School of Law holds a “Professionalism Day” each fall to acquaint students with the expectations of the field.

Stetson University College of Law External Link
Stetson University College of Law students are expected to maintain the highest ideals of academic and social conduct. The College of Law strives to educate its students from the beginning of their law school career by providing a professionalism luncheon at orientation. Students also must complete an online module relating to professionalism prior to orientation. The Office of Career Development has developed a curriculum called “ToolKit” that helps first-year students plan for career and professional development. In addition to the Professional Responsibility course, the College of Law also offers “Business Ethics” and “Ethics and the Practice of Criminal Law” as specialized courses to build upon their knowledge of professionalism in the field. Additionally, students can take part in an etiquette dinner, improv comedy for communication skills, and lunch and learn professional programs all focused on different professionalism themes. Students may choose to complete a leadership development certificate through a program that earned the College of Law the ABA’s prestigious E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award in 2006.

The Thomas M. Cooley Law School External Link
While relatively new to Florida, The Thomas M. Cooley Law School is using its 40 years of experience in Michigan to stress the importance of professionalism on its new campus in Tampa Bay. At orientation, students are introduced to five ethics-related components including the Professionalism in Action program and Cooley’s Commitment to Honor. The Professionalism in Action program provides students the opportunity to discuss the importance of ethics and professionalism with both attorneys and judges. Cooley’s Commitment to Honor is a formal ceremony before a robed judge in which students pledge their commitment to ethical and professional behavior while a student. Students also adopt professionalism principles which include accountability, the characteristics of a professional, serving the community, and promoting an ethical school community. Additionally, students at Cooley are offered the opportunity to participate in a professional development program and create a professionalism portfolio. This program includes training on responsibility, documents professional development, connects students to resource offices, and allows employers to see an applicant’s knowledge, skills, and character. Cooley’s Center for Ethics, Service, and Professionalism sponsors a speaker series where faculty and students are afforded the opportunity to hear about issues, trials, and lawsuits touching on professionalism issues.

University of Florida Levin College of Law External Link
The University of Florida Levin College of Law introduces the importance of professionalism before students even sit in their first class. At orientation, faculty members give a one-hour presentation titled “Professionalism in the Law School Community and the Profession,” which includes hypothetical situations acted out by upper-level students as well as information regarding the evolving nature of the legal world. UF Law students continue their education in professionalism their first year by taking “Introduction to Lawyering and the Legal Profession,” “Legal Writing,” and “Appellate Advocacy.” Apart from a wide range of elective courses dealing with professionalism issues, students are also required to take “Professional Responsibility and the Legal Profession” prior to graduation. Outside the classroom, UF Law offers opportunities to participate in panel presentations and symposiums aimed at professionalism and even offers a “Professionalism Week,” which educates students on professional expectations in the legal field. The “Joe Little Pro Bono Endowment and Professional Development Fund” allow students to be reimbursed for actual expenses they have encountered in pursuing outside opportunities in pro bono legal work and professionalism development respectively.

University of Miami School of Law External Link
At orientation, Dean White emphasizes that a student’s professional life does not begin after law school but rather on their first day of law school. Students are also introduced to the honor code and expectations. The School of Law’s curriculum has a professionalism focus as well by providing “Professional Liability & Legal Malpractice,” “Professional Responsibility,” “Mindful Ethics: Professional Responsibility For Lawyers in the Digital,” “Mindfulness & Leadership,” and other classes. The School of Law also offers the Partnership for Professionalism Program, which is heralded by local judges and attorneys. The program brings a judge, three attorneys, and six students to one table to discuss civility, ethics, and professionalism. Additionally, the Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program (PREP) allows students to benefit from exploring cutting-edge ethics issues such as social media, e-discovery, and technology. In 2012, PREP was awarded the E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award, which is presented to programs and projects contributing to the understanding and advancement of professionalism among lawyers, by the ABA. The Center for Ethics and Public Service is an additional program students may take part in which focuses on interdisciplinary collaboration, public-private partnership, and student mentoring and leadership training.

[Revised: 06-21-2013]