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`Can I Charge For Having Ethics?'


In Business This Week

`CAN I CHARGE FOR HAVING ETHICS?'

Juvenile delinquents have reform school. Wayward drivers have driving school. Vice-Presidents can take remedial spelling courses. But can "ethics school" really force pricey lawyers to return your phone calls?

The Florida Bar Assn. thinks so. Lawyers accused of minor misconduct will soon have a no-brainer of a choice: a reprimand by the bar--or two or three days in a classroom with a self-proclaimed ethics expert. Classes will cover such topics as professionalism, courtroom etiquette, and dealings with clients.

Ethics school will be available only for "first-time offenders," says Thomas Ervin, who headed the committee that came up with the concept. And it's not for the really shady types who skim their clients' trust funds. Even so, the school should be well-attended when it opens next year: Complaints on lawyer misconduct in Florida now total about 8,000 annually.EDITED BY HARRIS COLLINGWOOD


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