On track to host Continuing Legal Education courses in every state of the union by 2009, the New York-based Institute for American and Talmudic Law convened a “Conference on Legal Ethics” in Coral Gables, Fla.

Co-sponsored by Chabad-Lubavitch of Downtown Coral Gables, the program brought together a slate of attorneys and judges to discuss the approach of Jewish law to medical malpractice cases, as well as ethical principles pertaining to criminal defense.

Some 60 lawyers attended the event, which was held at a local branch of Regions Bank, another co-sponsor. Throughout the program, Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe – a noted Talmudic scholar and dean of the institute who also maintains a pulpit at Congregation Agudas Achim in West Hartford, Conn. – kept discussions firmly grounded in what guidance Jewish tradition offered members of the legal profession.

“The program was terrific,” exclaimed Alison Miller, a partner in the law firm of Stearns Weaver. “At a time when we are all grappling with handling the impact of medical malpractice on our healthcare system, and the failures of the criminal justice system, learning about the Jewish approach to these issues was both thought provoking and enlightening.”

One federal judge who participated in a panel discussion with two other jurists said: “It was very enjoyable. I learned quite a lot about Judaic law, and even a little about secular law.”

Founded in 2002 by Yaffe, Rabbis Noach Heber and Joshua Metzger – director of Chabad of Midtown Manhattan – and Yisroel Schulman, founder and president of the New York Legal Assistance Group, the law institute aims to demonstrate the modern relevance of Talmudic law. It recently took its curriculum of CLE courses national.

“This is the first time that we have organized a conference of this type,” said Rabbi Avrohom Stolik of the Coral Gables Chabad center. “The impressive turnout and the tremendous interest that it has generated proves its importance.”

“It was a very fruitful discussion,” added Rabbi Yakov Fellig, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of South Dade. “The give and take was incredibly intense. Everyone there learned something new.”

Other sponsors of the Florida course included Aronfeld Trial Lawyers, Cisneros Group of Companies, Goldstein Schechter Koch and Trust Surety Group.