Monday, July 2, 2018

STU Law Student Awarded 2018 Fellowship for Legal Services of Greater Miami

Portia Bethea (3L)
St. Thomas University School of Law Student Portia Bethea (3L) was recently awarded the 2018 Fellowship for Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. The award was announced at the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association (“GSCBWLA”) Annual Installation and Awards Ceremony in Coral Gables on June 28, 2018.

The Fellowship will provide the opportunity for Ms. Bethea to continue Gwen S. Cherry’s Legacy of Equal Justice and, at the same time, make it possible for Legal Services of Greater Miami to help more vulnerable individuals and families resolve critical legal problems.

Law student fellows provide important assistance to Legal Services attorneys including interviewing clients and witnesses, drafting legal documents, discovery and briefs, and conducting research and investigations. Law student fellows have frequent opportunities to attend strategy sessions, hearings, mediations, depositions, and community events.

Gwen S. Cherry was a pioneer attorney at Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. when it was founded in 1966. To honor her, the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association (GSCBWLA) has established a Law Student Fellowship in her name.

St. Thomas Law had a long history of successful partnership with organizations that assist our communities with legal services; giving voice to the voiceless.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Associate Dean Tamara Lawson Begins Her Tenure as Acting Dean of St. Thomas Law

Acting-Dean Tamara Lawson began her
tenure this week.
Tamara Lawson, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law, this week began her tenure as Acting Dean of St. Thomas University School of Law. She succeeds Dean Alfredo Garcia, who is now Acting Provost of the university. Both appointments were made by retiring university President, Monsignor Franklyn Casale.

Lawson, who joined the St. Thomas Law faculty in 2004, was previously Associate Dean for Faculty Development. She has taught Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence. Her research and writing interests focuses on trial advocacy, cyber crime, international criminal law, race and law, and professional responsibility; it also includes distinguished published writings including a lead article in the American Journal of Criminal Law, entitled, Can Fingerprints Lie? and an invited book chapter in Contemporary Controversies: Forensic Technology, entitled Before the Verdict and Beyond the Verdict: The CSI infection within Modern Criminal Jury Trials. She also co-wrote the legal casebook Criminal Prodecure- Cases and Materials.

In connection with her research on the Trayvon Martin case, Professor Lawson has made media appearances and was selected as the reporter for the American Bar Association's Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws.

The St. Thomas Law family welcomes Acting Dean Lawson into this new position and wishes her every success. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

St. Thomas Law Student Interns at the United Nations in New York

St. Thomas University School of Law offers its students opportunities outside of the traditional classroom setting through its transformative clinical and internship programs.

Third-year student Janice Santiago recently completed one such opportunity through her externship at the United Nations in New York. This immersive experience allowed her to be a full delegate to the United Nations where she attended UN General Assembly and Security Council meetings, and rubbed shoulders with ambassadors and UN delegates from all over the world. She had full access to the UN including attendance at committee meetings, observation of general debates, draft resolutions, and informal consultations. 

Third-year St.Thomas Law Student Janice Santiago at the United Nations General Assembly 

Through these meetings, Ms. Santiago gained invaluable insight and was able to witness history in the making. 

"You attend a security council or general assembly meeting one day and read about it in the New York Times the next day," stated Janice."I am so lucky that our school and Professor Mark Wolff provides this incredible externship."

Located at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, the United Nations Internship is a residential, single-semester placement at Permanent Missions, inter-governmental organizations (IGO’s), and non-governmental organizational (NGO’s) credentialed to the United Nations. The interns function as accredited representatives to the UN and follow major policy issues on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly such as the Commission on Sustainable Development, Commission on the Status of Women, HIV/AIDS, Law of the Sea, International Criminal Court, International Court of Justice, Human/Child Trafficking, and the Human Rights Council. Each intern prepares analytical reports on issues and a final in-depth research paper in one area, with these materials selectively published and shared electronically across the worldwide Pax Romana international network, through Pacem In Terris.

Click here to learn more about St. Thomas Law's Clinical and Internship Programs. 


Friday, April 27, 2018

St.Thomas Law Alumni Form Powerhouse Law Firm

Law partners and St. Thomas Law graduates, Wesley Farrell '09 and Ricky K. Patel '09 of the law firm of Farrell & Patel, have joined forces with the law firm Jomarron & Lopez; headed by St. Thomas Law alum Jesmany Jomarrón '09 and his partner Mario E. López, to form a new, combined powerhouse firm - Farrell, Patel, Jomarron & Lopez, Attorneys at Law - with five offices and a wide array of specialized services.

“It’s incredibly exciting to embark on this journey with our new partners,” said Ricky Patel, Esq. “Our number one priority is the care and attention we provide our valued clients, and it’s gratifying to team up with a like-minded firm that equally prioritizes helping those who need it most.”

Ricky Patel '09
Wesley J. Farrell, '09
Wesley Farrell and Ricky Patel initially created a law firm based on strength, compassion, and guidance because they wanted to help innocent victims find justice. After growing their law firm from the ground up and finding successful resolutions for thousands of clients, they continue to practice complex litigation nationwide. They have been continuously recognized nationally as some of the most innovative lawyers in America. Among other high-profile cases, Farrell & Patel stood up for those harmed by big business after the BP Oil Spill, one of the greatest environmental disasters in U.S. history. They successfully represented over 3,000 claims against BP stemming from the 2010 oil spill tragedy. More recently, the firm has focused on complex litigation, including class action cases against some of the largest companies in the world.

Jesmany Jomarrón '09
Partners Jesmany Jomarron and Mario E. Lopez have a long history of helping clients navigate through extremely complex legal issues. They built their practice on a foundation of trial advocacy. Their practice areas include complex business disputes, real property litigation, community association law, and high-value estates litigation. They also developed a specialized division to handle a high volume of large, catastrophic property losses throughout the State of Florida. This property insurance division is composed of a statewide network of attorneys, adjusters, contractors, experts, and engineers ready to handle all aspects of their clients’ property insurance claims.

“Growth just for the sake of it has never been our goal,” said Jesmany Jomarron. “Our primary objective is to help clients get through difficult times, and we expand intelligently to meet their growing needs. Combining forces with our partners accomplishes this goal and sets us up for tremendous future success.”

In addition to the success both firms have experienced on behalf of clients, they also focus on giving back to the communities they serve. By helping families who need it most with pro-bono legal work, as well as supporting myriad charities such as Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Haitian Orphanages, Habitat for humanity and other organizations that help children in need. The firm believes in shared value and creating opportunities for those who need it most. All four name partners are self-made, and believe in helping the next generation of leaders succeed.

St. Thomas Law salutes these alumni who the embody the spirit and live the mission of the law school; showing that hard work coupled with compassionate community service will lead to success. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Human Trafficking Academy Hosts Representative Ross Spano to Commemorate 'National Crime Victims’ Rights Week'

On April 11th, in honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the Human Trafficking Academy was honored to host Florida State Representative Ross Spano in a talk attended by law students, faculty, staff, and community members. Professor Roza Pati, Director of the Human Trafficking Academy, welcomed Representative Ross Spano to St. Thomas Law and highlighted his tremendous work in the State of Florida to confront the problem of trafficking in human beings, to find solutions and to eradicate this scourge.

Representative Spano, who is also currently a candidate for Florida Attorney General, opened up about why it is that he was called to advocate on behalf of victims of human trafficking, and offered insights into the laudable legislative efforts that he has championed in the pursuit of this aim.

Representative Spano began the talk by emphasizing the need to stand up to bullies, which he learned from his own childhood experiences. “There are all sorts of bullies in life,” he said, “and one of those bullies takes the form of a human trafficker.” He shared the experience of pushing for the passage of numerous bills to protect victims of sex trafficking. These legislative measures covered a range of issues including, the ability for victims of sex trafficking to petition for any prostitution convictions in their record to be vacated or expunged, an increase on the criminal penalty for pimps and for those who solicit the services of sex trafficked persons, the ability for prosecutors to pursue RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) charges against traffickers, and protecting the locations of safe-houses for trafficking victims from public disclosure.

Representative Spano’s passionate commitment to eliminating human trafficking in Florida was palpable and was mirrored by the audience. The attendees were engaged throughout, asking many thought-provoking questions during the latter half of the session.

Some students who were in attendance shared their thoughts about the talk afterwards. Kimberly Colón, an LL.M. student, said that “Representative Ross Spano was very insightful on the different laws regarding human trafficking in the State of Florida.” Diego Sánchez, a 2L, stated that, “It was great to hear from someone who has been at the legislative forefront of tackling this very important issue in our State.” Added Nadia El Nur, another student from the LL.M. program, “I really enjoyed the lecture organized by the Human Trafficking Academy. The discussion held afterward was inspiring and very informative.”

Representative Spano has pledged to continue to “fight for victims of human trafficking until we completely eradicate this scourge from Florida.” There can be no doubt that his work, including the talk he gave on the 11th, has inspired others to take up the fight as well.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Professor Roy Balleste Joins High-Level International Team Crafting New Outer Space Laws

St. Thomas Law Professor Roy Balleste has been asked to join a new team of internationally-renowned  experts on space law who will be developing rules applicable to the military use of outer space.

The project, MILAMOS (Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space), was inaugurated at McGill University in 2016,  and aims to develop a "widely-accepted manual that clarifies the fundamental rules applicable to military uses of outer space by both States and non-State actors in times of peace, in periods of rising tensions, and in times of armed conflict."

To date, the MILAMOS Project has already gathered the support and endorsement of various stakeholders, academic institutions and governments around the world, and has gained widespread attention in the international media.

Professor Balleste was selected as a member of the team based on his American and international perspectives in cyber security, space law and human rights, as well as his service in the United States military. He will be one of dozens of high-level experts and other international government and non-governmental contributors including Federal Ministry of Defense of the Federal Republic of Germany, Intersputnik (Russia), University of Western Sydney (Australia), Leuven University (Belgium), Keio University (Japan), Harvard University-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (USA), University of Geneva, Xi'an Jiatong University (China) who will draft this manual that may shape State behavior, and strengthen the security and sustainability of outer space.

St. Thomas Law salutes Professor Balleste on his hard work and the dedication to his field that has led him to be internationally-recognized and invited to be part of such a prestigious project.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

St. Thomas Immigration Law Students Host Free Legal Screening Clinic

On Saturday, March 17th, the School of Law and the Immigration Law Students Association (ILSA) partnered with Catholic Legal Services and Americans for Immigrant Justice to provide free immigration legal screenings to the surrounding community. The clinic primarily offered an interview and legal consultation for the purpose of determining immigration relief eligibility.

Student volunteers
More than 20 student-volunteers from St. Thomas Law received valuable hands-on experience working alongside a team of attorneys. The volunteers got the chance to complete intake forms for those seeking aid, observe attorneys conduct legal interviews, and were introduced to South Florida’s two leading immigration nonprofits for future internships and employment opportunities. 

“Participating in the clinic provided me with the unique opportunity to observe attorneys’ interactions with clients,” stated Catherine Yepes (1L). “This experience allowed insight into what my day-to-day life would be as an immigration attorney,” she added.


For Tessa Juste, an LL.M student graduating in May, the experience hit close to home. “My parents were immigrants to this country, and I know it was not an easy road for them. So I am grateful that, because of their struggles and efforts, I am able to bring things full circle and help people who are walking that same path today,” stated Tessa.

Students had face-to-face interactions with individuals who may be eligible for different types of relief, including asylum-seekers and survivors of domestic violence. Alida Bustos (1L) was excited to have the opportunity to complete an intake for someone who needed to renew her application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. She hopes to be a part of future programs.

Students interested in participating in similar projects should contact ILSA at