Armando G. Hernandez

The Miami-Dade Circuit’s Committee on Professionalism and Civility held its fifth Professionalism & Civility Action Summit at the Florida International University School of Law.

This year’s summit, originally scheduled for fall 2017, was postponed until Friday due to Hurricane Irma. The focus of the summit in prior years has included voluntary bar organizations, managing partners, judges and public agenices. This year’s summit was distinct from prior years because it had a unique focus on law schools.

Designated speakers at the action summit included Miami-Dade Circuit Chief Judge Bertila Soto and the professionalism committee co-chairs, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Thomas J. Rebull, Andrea Wolfson and Paul Lipton.

The attendees consisted of a diverse crowd of judges from the circuit and county courts, attorneys from a myriad of practices areas and firm sizes and law school deans, professors, students and other representatives. Also in attendance were numerous members of the Circuit Court’s professionalism panel.

Soto, Wolfson and Lipton commenced the summit with opening remarks, all of which echoed a similar sentiment or common denominator. Specifically, the concern over the development of younger, aspiring lawyers in the age of millennials and the “me generation” of 24/7 social media. Lipton remarked on the phenomenon of living in our own little, self-serving, and self-reinforcing social media bubbles.

During the summit, several topics were discussed in an open forum format including:

  • Hot topics that law schools are facing and addressing
  • Civility and professionalism in law school
  • Preparing students for the legal/business world
  • Social media
  • Financial pressures on law students and recent law graduates
  • Mentoring during law school and recent law school graduates
  • The role of the court
  • “The Elephant in the Room” – what topics must be addressed that no one has but should?

The pressures facing law schools with implementing a curriculum geared toward the demanding and ever-expanding bar examination and prospects for the Uniform Bar Examination were discussed in great detail.

Along the same lines, the corollary impact on clinics, externships and other electives was weighed and debated.

The role of law schools and law school curricula in the great context of cultivating professionalism and civility was considered.

Additionally, reframing the millennial paradigm was raised with an emphasis on highlighting the strengths of the millennial generation as well as seeking ways to maximize not only potential and productivity but to also instill professionalism and civility.

Robert Coppel expounded upon the robust training program for all public defenders at the Miami-Dade public defender’s office. He used the metaphor of preventative medicine to highlight the critical role of mentoring, training, and an unwavering dedication to professionalism in the development of younger lawyers.

For additional information on the professionalism panel or instructions on how to file a complaint, visit the Miami-Dade Circuit website.

Armando G. Hernandez founded The Law Offices of Armando G. Hernandez in Miami. He practices in the areas of first-party property, personal injury, product liability, construction litigation, commercial litigation and other general litigation matters. He is an inaugural member of the professionalism panel.