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Miami Law Students Provide Training on Cutting-Edge Legal and Ethical Issues

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Fellow Brandon Spivack and interns Charles Muniz and Gray Rifkin.

Fellow Brandon Spivack and interns Charles Muniz and Gray Rifkin. (Photo: Miami Law) Full-Size Photo

In an effort to expand the reach of Miami Law's Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program (PREP), the students of PREP have taken on new and interesting areas of law that are fundamentally intertwined with the Model Rules of Professional Conduct in their multi-faceted presentations that provide CLE credits to South Florida's Bench and Bar.

Recently, PREP traveled to the City of Miami Beach Office of the City Attorney, where Fellow Brandon Spivack and Interns Gray W. Rifkin and Charles Muniz provided an engaging and interactive presentation on cutting-edge legal and ethical issues raised by the use of social media.

The CLE presentation began with an interactive discussion of the legal department's presence on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, and the potential ethical considerations raised by the department's presence on the Internet. This discussion included discourse of the Sunshine Law and Public Records Doctrine, and how information conveyed through social media must comply with the document retention requirements placed on public agencies. The presentation then turned to issues regarding the duty to maintain WebPages prior to litigation, as well as the discoverability and admissibility of social media evidence. Among the issues discussed were social media's impact on rules such as confidentiality, fairness to opposing counsel, trial publicity, responsibility of supervisory attorneys, candor toward the tribunal, and general misconduct. Following the presentation, PREP Director Jan Jacobowitz received multiple emails thanking the program for their efforts.

One attendee stated, "We enjoyed the presentation very much and learned valuable lessons. Congratulations to you and your team for a wonderful presentation and thank you for coming to our office."

Rifkin, returning for his second semester with PREP, commented that, "these trainings provide an excellent opportunity for practical legal education that cannot be simulated in a classroom. With each training, PREP students engage in different and exciting areas of law and professional responsibility issues. The interactive discussions with practicing attorneys prove exciting and rewarding for both sides."

The Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program was established in 1996 as an in-house program within the Center for Ethics and Public Service at the University of Miami School of Law. The program has dedicated countless student hours to public service and has educated thousands of members of the Florida Bench and Bar. As the students teach, they learn and quite often make a difference, prompting organizations to pause and reconsider their approaches to some of the toughest ethical dilemmas.