New required professionalism course should be ready by year’s end
The Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism is working to create a new two-hour continuing legal education course as part of a July Florida Supreme Court order.
The center will tentatively begin filming the course in December, and the goal is to complete it by the end of the year, said center Director Rebecca Bandy.
“Once complete, it will be available for free on-demand for all Florida Bar members to use,” said Bandy during a recent meeting of the Standing Committee on Professionalism at the Bar’s Fall Meeting. “It’s quite a project.”
The new requirement replaces members’ previous mandate that they complete one hour of professionalism training as part of their continuing education every three years. The court in the amendment also decreased the total number of CLE hours from 33 to 30 per reporting cycle.
The new order also placed greater emphasis on local professionalism panels for resolving disputes. The Center for Professionalism will host a summit on the local panels in June.
“The courts are really encouraging the use of these Local Professionalism Panels as a peer system for handling professionalism and civility issues,” Bandy said. Information about how to contact Local Professionalism Panels can be found by circuit on the center’s website.
It’s important for Florida attorneys to remember there’s a difference between professionalism and ethics, said Professionalism Committee Chair Chardean Hill, after the meeting.
“Professionalism refers to the expectation that a lawyer will do more than simply comply with the ground-floor ethical standards of professional conduct,” said Hill. “Professionalism encompasses appropriate interpersonal behavior and high standards which are essential components to a successful and satisfying career in the law.”
The committee’s Working Group on Mental Health and Wellness will also be creating a CLE course, said Hailey Goldman, who chairs the cohort.
The current goal of that course is for attorneys, supervisors and, potentially, even judges to learn to recognize mental-health issues and how to deal with them in the context of professionalism.
“As a judge, you’re in position to probably see so many different aspects of mental-health problems from maybe not showing up to court, or maybe not responding to other lawyers,” said Goldman. “And maybe also checking in once in a while with an attorney who you see is falling out of line with their professional responsibilities, as opposed to admonishing them in open court.”
Goldman said her group is hoping to have the course completed by the Bar’s Annual Convention in June.