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Professionalism – you know it when you see it

Senior Editor Top Stories

Annual Masters Seminar on Ethics explores the meaning of professionalism and how it interacts with the Rules of Professional Conduct

Scales of JusticeProfessionalism, like beauty and truth, is easier to recognize than it is to define.

Florida lawyers will have a rare opportunity to explore the meaning of professionalism, and how it interacts with the Rules of Professional Conduct, at the 2022 Masters Seminar on Ethics. (Course No. 5698 is authorized for 4.0 hours of General CLE; Ethics 2.0; Technology 1.0; Professionalism 1.0)

From 8 a.m. to noon, June 24 at the Annual Florida Bar Convention, the seminar will feature four ethics-themed panels – “Bar Grievances and You: How to Avoid Them and What to do if You Get One,” “Technology,” “A Judicial Roundtable on Ethics,” and “Celebrating the Professionalism of Being a Lawyer.”

The latter features presenter James L. Bell, a senior partner with The Bell Law Firm. A 30-year Florida Bar member who serves on the Professional Ethics Committee, Bell is a past president and board member of Florida Legal Services who is known for his extensive Bar and community service.

Bell’s presentation, in addition to professionalism’s interaction with the Rules of Professional Conduct, will include such things as the lawyer’s oath, and how professionalism “is one of the best ways to ensure the practice of law remains a profession rather than merely a business.”

“Lawyers get busy with all the hassles we each go through on a daily basis and sometimes forget how blessed we are to be lawyers,” reads a seminar synopsis.

The discussion is well timed.

Two weeks ago, the Board of Governors forwarded to the Supreme Court – for informational purposes only – a special committee’s sweeping recommendations for enhancing professionalism in Florida.

The Special Committee for the Review of Professionalism in Florida proposal includes a proposed Supreme Court administrative order that would establish a revised and updated “Code for Resolving Professionalism Referrals.”

Special Committee Vice Chair Gary Lesser said the proposed code “establishes [more uniform] local professionalism panels (LLPs) in each judicial circuit that will receive, screen, and act on complaints of unprofessional conduct – separate and apart from instances of misconduct that require the formal grievance process.”

Statistics show that most Florida lawyers meet the high ethical standards that the profession demands, which means most are unfamiliar with the formal grievance process.

The first panel discussion will feature experts discussing how the Bar grievance process works, and what lawyers can expect when a grievance is filed against them. Attendees will receive tips on avoiding the most common pitfalls.

Lanse Scriven

Lanse Scriven

Presenters include veteran Florida Bar Staff Counsel Patricia Ann Toro Savitz; D. Culver “Skip” Smith III; and Lansing “Lanse” C. Scriven.

A former Florida Bar board member who serves on the Professional Ethics Committee, Smith counsels and represents lawyers, law firms, and others on ethics, professional responsibility, professional disciplinary proceedings, disqualification and sanction motions, malpractice, and loss prevention.

Scriven is a principal of Lanse Scriven Law in Tampa and former Florida Bar board member who serves on the Professional Ethics Committee. Scriven concentrates his practice on business litigation and Bar disciplinary/professional ethics defense.

The technology and ethics presentation will focus on post-pandemic challenges for attorneys working remotely, and how using a variety of computing devices and methods “have also amplified an attorney’s professional and ethical obligations directed to competency, confidentiality, and supervision.”

“Of particular concern is the protection of client-sensitive information, including HIPAA-covered health-care information as well as other personally identifiable information,” according to the synopsis.

The panelists include Tampa attorney Tatiana Melnik, who concentrates her practice on data privacy, security, and information technology; former Ninth Judicial Circuit Judge Donald A. Myers, Jr.; New York attorney Steven Teppler, who heads the cybersecurity and privacy practice for Sterlington, PLLC; and Eric A. Hibbard, a director of product planning, storage networking & security at Samsung Semiconductor, Inc.

Chief Judge Lisa Munyon

Chief Judge Lisa Munyon

The “Judicial Roundtable on Ethics,” will be moderated by Professional Ethics Committee members and will focus on “the ethical issues the judiciary is confronted with in the courtroom, and how the judges handle those ethical concerns.” Panelists will also discuss “conduct that rises to the level of an ethical violation versus a professionalism issue.”

The panelists include Senior U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck who serves in Southern District of Florida; Ninth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Lisa Taylor Munyon, who chairs the Florida Courts Technology Commission and the Supreme Court’s Workgroup on the Continuity of Court Operations During and After COVID-19; and First District Court of Appeal Judge Stephanie W. Ray.


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