Florida BarBar Discipline System Subject of UF Law Course

February 8, 20210
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Two Bar Board of Governors members have just finished teaching an intensive, one-week course for University of Florida law students on The Florida Bar’s grievance system.

Twelfth Circuit board member Scott Westheimer and Out-of-State board member Brian Burgoon, both members of the University of Florida Levin College of Law Board of Trustees, were the adjunct professors for the course, which was among the offerings for the one-week, “compressed” pre-spring-semester courses at the law school.

Law students can pick a class during that week for intensive classroom and study work, and pick up a credit toward their graduation.

“Our goal of the course was to provide an in-depth look at how Florida Bar discipline works at every stage,” Burgoon said.

“In law school, classes teach professional responsibility, which is a multi-state class,” Westheimer added. “There is no specific Florida discipline class. We gave the students. . . a look at how the system works, the participants, the process, the procedures, and the sanctions.

“We also drilled down on some common problems and gave common-sense advice on how not to violate the rules,” he said.

Westheimer and Burgoon, who both earned their undergraduate and law degrees from UF, were drawn to share their experiences as long-time members of the Board of Governors Disciplinary Review Committee. Westheimer is the current chair, while Burgoon has been chair or co-chair five times.

The 18-page syllabus outlined the rigors of the course, including that students could expect to spend two hours reading for each of the 14 hours of class time (although the syllabus and reading list was released a few weeks ahead of the class, which ran from January 11 through January 15). The class met for three hours a day on January 11-14 and two hours on January 15.

The reading list included Bar rules on professional conduct, trust accounts, and disciplinary rules; Florida Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions; Board of Governors’ Standing Board Policies on handling grievances; Bar rules on grievance mediation and fee arbitration; numerous Supreme Court opinions in grievance cases; reports from grievance referees; and resources on the Bar’s website, including on LegalFuel. Cases covered included those for relatively minor trust accounting infractions to a high-profile case that saw three lawyers permanently disbarred for a scheme to entrap an opposing counsel in a DUI arrest.

 

 

In law school, classes teach professional responsibility, which is a multi-state class. There is no specific Florida discipline class. We gave the students. . . a look at how the system works, the participants, the process, the procedures, and the sanctions.

Scott Westheimer

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Holly Clark

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