Adam Spees’ Ethics of the Law Office class hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday, September 18, at the Brooklyn Center Campus in the Student Commons. The goal of the panel discussion was to educate the community on ethical related issues in the fields of law, law enforcement, and business. There are many misconceptions about issues like attorney-client privilege, confidentiality, ethical actions of law enforcement, and business-related ethics. Many recent events and news reports only help cloud the public’s understanding of these issues. What can you tell an attorney or a paralegal and expect to stay confidential? What ethical standards must law enforcement follow, and who ensures the standards are actually met? What ethical rules apply to the financial services industry? Is what you say to a paralegal confidential or only what you say to an attorney? If you ask a paralegal friend or colleague who is not an attorney a legal question, what responsibilities do they have to you, if any? Is everything you tell a paralegal friend in confidence “confidential”? Do any of these ethical rules apply to my accountant, my banker, or my mortgage officer? What can I do if I feel my attorney breached one or more ethical rules? All these issues and more were discussed by a stellar group of six guest panelists.
Panelists included professionals for the legal, business, and law enforcement fields. Panelist Martin Cole, Director of the Minnesota Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, discussed ethical considerations that lawyers and paralegals face every day and the process and procedures in place for when legal professionals fail to meet their ethical obligations. Attorney David Kempston discussed how ethics relate to practicing attorneys, with particular focus on how advancing technology has influenced legal ethics. Paralegal Amanda Bean discussed the special considerations of a family law legal professional. Paralegal James Whitfield provided a unique perspectives of a freelance paralegal to the discussion. Panelist Inspector Todd Milburn of the Brooklyn Park Police Department brought a law enforcement perspective to the discussion and related several examples of how police officers constantly face ethical issues unique to the profession. Jerry Hughes, Founder and Executive Director the Hughes Foundation, discussed how ethics influence his non-profit company and the important health assistance services it provides for its clients.
Students created the entire event from start to finish. Students identified and invited attendees, provided event logistics, and crafted questions to help foster discussion. The panel was a resounding success with attendees coming away with a clearer understanding of how ethics and ethical issues relate to their chosen career field.