Friday, August 18, 2017

St. Thomas Law Second-Year Student Appointed to National Advisory Committee of Equal Justice Works

2L Diego Sanchez
This summer, second-year St. Thomas Law student Diego Sanchez, was selected as a member of the Equal Justice Works (EJW) National Advisory Committee.

His term as a member began on July 1, 2017 and will end on June 30, 2018. As a member, he will be tasked with providing feedback on EJW's existing programs and new initiatives and to assist with outreach to member schools and students throughout the country. He is also required to attend one national meeting per year as well as monthly conference calls.

"As an immigrant rights advocate committed to equal justice, I was thrilled to learn I was selected to serve in this capacity," stated Diego. "This will allow me to play a leadership role at the national level in addition to supporting EJW’s programs and new initiatives."

The mission of Equal Justice Works is to "create a just society by mobilizing the next generation of lawyers committed to equal justice." They provide leadership to ensure that a sustainable pipeline of talented and trained lawyers are involved in public service and create a continuum of programs that begin with incoming law school students and extend into later careers in the profession. They also have the nation’s leading public interest law fellowship program and offer more postgraduate, full-time legal positions in public service than any other organization.

Michele Bastacky, Program Coordinator at Equal Justice Works noted that they had many exceptional applicants for the available positions, but were especially impressed with Diego's achievements and commitment to public interest work.

St. Thomas Law Professor, Lauren Gilbert, who has worked with Diego on numerous immigrants' rights initiatives including a week-long project at the Karnes Detention Center in Texas, describes his ability to connect with underserved asylum-seekers as inspirational.

During his first year at St. Thomas Law, Diego re-established the American Immigration Lawyers Association Student Chapter (AILA) and became active with the Public Interest Law Society (PILS). As a member of AILA, Diego is active in community citizenship clinics that assist low-income individuals with their citizenship applications.

St. Thomas Law remains committed to teaching, training, and empowering the next generation of advocates and community leaders. Our students are driven by a mission to serve. Leading the way is our nationally-recognized pro-bono program that instills a lasting service ethic among our students that benefits them well beyond graduation.

We proudly highlight the accomplishments of Diego and other students like him, who continue to embody the spirit and mission of St. Thomas Law.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

St. Thomas Law Alum, Collett Small, Installed as Chair of the Florida Bar Elder Law Section

The Florida Bar Elder Law Section has elected St. Thomas Law alum, Collett P. Small as their new chairperson.  Small, the first woman of color and of Jamaican heritage to hold this position, was installed at a swearing in ceremony in Boca Raton on June 23rd.

Collett P. Small, Esq. '05
During her tenure, Small’s platform will include:
  • Increasing the use of technology in the section 
  • Increasing diversity while growing the size of the section 
  • Incorporating a Public Relations strategy to help consumers understand the merits of having a family plan for your elderly loved ones and help to alleviate the struggles that can ensue without one 
  • Working with legislators to improve the quality of life for senior citizens in Florida
 “I am humbled and honored to serve in my capacity as chairperson and look forward to working towards assuring families appreciate the value of engaging an Elder Law attorney before their loved ones become ill or incapacitated,” stated Small. "I feel encouraged by my selection as Chair and I am looking forward to improving the Elder Law Section’s image while taking the Section to the next level of service and efficiency."

Small, a 2005 graduate, has been practicing law for 12 years. She is a Board Certified Elder Law Specialist and is one of only 105 attorneys in the State who are certified in Elder Law. The former banking executive runs her successful law practice in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

St. Thomas Law Student Kicks off Summer of Service with Rural Summer Legal Corps

On June 1st,  the 2017 Rural Summer Legal Corps officially kicked off at a joint training in Washington DC. The event was hosted by Equal Justice Works and the Legal Services Corporation. Rising St. Thomas Law 2L, Melissa Ramos will be serving at Legal Services of North Florida, Inc.

To prepare for the 2017 program, Equal Justice Works and Legal Services Corporation actively recruited law students to fill 30 positions nationwide. Selected participants begin the summer with intensive training from poverty law experts on housing, domestic violence, public benefits, migrant farmworkers, Native American, and family law. After the training, the law students return directly to their host site to continue their 8-10 week placement.
Melissa joins 29 other public interest law students in addressing pressing legal issues facing rural communities Specifically, Melissa will advocate for and guide these individuals who are hindered within their communities because of past criminal convictions.

These students will travel to Martinsburg, West Virginia to gain firsthand experience and training on the unique challenges and benefits of working with legal clients in a rural setting.

We salute Melissa and the organizers at Equal Justice Works and the Summer Legal Corps for creating this unique opportunity for our legal students.

Friday, May 19, 2017

St. Thomas Law Student Making Her Mark in Sports and Entertainment Law

D'Bria Bradshaw
St. Thomas Law rising 3L D'Bria Bradshaw recently presented a workshop titled Becoming a Sports Legal Scholar at a sports law summit hosted by Bowie State University. Her presentation included steps to take in the law school application process, experiences of what its like to be in law school, and pursuing a career in the sports industry.

"I thought it was a great opportunity to speak at this event because the sports industry is very competitive and it is important to find your niche as early as possible," stated D'Bria. "Not many African Americans work on the business side of sports so it was beneficial for students to see different paths that they can take in the sports industry with a law degree."

She explained that speaking to students that attend a Historically Black College/University (HBCU) about the benefits of law school was fulfilling because African Americans make up about 5% of the legal community so it is important to instill the importance of representation and education to undergraduate students who are thinking about what is next for them after receiving their sports management degrees.

D'Bria was invited to present at the summit by an Assistant Professor at Boise State who she connected to through her online networking. Based on her profile - sports business/legal experience in the industry and the fact that she had been published, she was an ideal choice.

Earlier this year, the American Bar Association Entertainment and Sports Lawyer published two of D'Bria's articles in the Winter 2017 Issue: 33-2. The articles were titled: Breaking into the Industry and Sports Team General Counsels. She is also the Senior Articles Editor for the St. Thomas Journal of Complex Litigation Editorial Board and her comment titled: Has the National Basketball Association Lost its Competitive Touch? will be published in Volume 4 of the Journal.

St. Thomas University has a leading Sports Administration program.  Our dynamic Joint Degree program, within which D'Bria is enrolled, allows students to earn their Masters in Sports Administration and Juris Doctor degree simultaneously.

Friday, April 21, 2017

St.Thomas Law Trial Team Hosts Alumni from Successful Alumni-Founded Law Firms

. Seated (L-R)  Houson Lafrance ‘14, Michael Mayer ‘07, and Joey McCall ‘11.
Standing are student members of St. Thomas Law's Mock Trial Team.
St.Thomas Law's mock trial students recently hosted three St. Thomas Law alumni for a panel discussion on  the importance of professional and personal reputation in the legal community as well as strategies for achieving ideal work-life balance.  All three guest panelists were active members of the Trial Team during their law school years. 

The approximately 40 student attendees got the opportunity to participate in discussions surrounding topics such as what motivated our panelists to join the mock trial organization initially as law students, what they find most enjoyable and challenging about litigation (“winning and winning”), and how their experiences at St. Thomas Law helped prepare them to become successful attorneys.  
Our guest attendee profiles: 

Houson Lafrance '14 is a criminal defense attorney and founding partner of Cox, Golondrino and Lafrance, PA, a Plantation firm founded by three members of the Class of 2014 (Tim Cox and Luis Golondrino).  

Mike Mayer '07, adjunct professor at St.Thomas and director of the Trial Team, is the litigation managing attorney at Peyton Bolin, PL, a Fort Lauderdale real estate firm founded by two St. Thomas Law alumni (Mauri Peyton ’07 and Jane Bolin ’07).  

Joey McCall ,11 is a junior partner at Farrell & Patel, a Miami-based firm also founded by two St. Thomas Law alumni (Wes Farrell ’09 and Ricky Patel ’09).  

St. Thomas Law's Mock Trial Team  promotes excellence in litigation and trial advocacy skills. Students participate in state, regional and national advocacy competitions, vying for team membership through tryouts. St. Thomas University School of Law trial teams have achieved prominence in numerous competitions.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

St. Thomas Law Students Deliver Arguments before the Third District Court of Appeal

Sitting before a packed Moot Court Room, the Third District Court of Appeal of Florida convened one of its official sessions on campus on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Presiding over the proceedings were the Honorable Richard Suarez, Chief Judge; the Honorable Barbara Lagoa; and the Honorable Thomas Logue. St. Thomas Law students were given a rare opportunity to witness actual proceedings as attorneys presented oral arguments in real appellate cases before the Court. 

Among the memorable moments of the day was the appearance of a third-year law student, Kielan Saborit, presenting oral argument to the Court in her capacity as a certified legal intern in J.C. v. State of Florida, Case No. 3D16-825, supervised by Professor Howard Blumberg. Third-year student, Ana Perez-Dorrego,  assisted in the preparation of the initial brief.

As in prior years, there was great excitement as students watched the dynamic interactions between the Court and the attorneys unfolding before them. 

Law student Kielan Saborit delivers arguments before the court
 “The highly-anticipated visit of the Court was a rare opportunity for law students to learn about effective appellate practice and oral advocacy,” observed Professor Annie Chan, Director of the Legal Writing Program, who supervised the organization of the event. “Each year, the Court’s visit provides educational insights into the legal system which students gain only from watching the Court in action.” 

St. Thomas Law's Appellate Litigation clinic students Kielan Saborit, Jessica Biedron, and Meagan Sanchez are Certified Legal Interns and represented Appellants in three actual cases; two of which were argued in sessions at the Third DCA building on downtown Miami. Ana Perez-Dorrego, also a student in the clinic, offered invaluable contributions as legal intern on two of the cases.

Being allowed the opportunity to argue actual cases before sitting judges is one of the unique benefits that students enjoy as a part of the clinical program at St. Thomas Law.

Friday, April 7, 2017

STU Law Student, Chanae Wood, Honored by Dade County Commission for Being First Black Editor of the St.Thomas Law Review

Chanae Wood, 2L
On Tuesday, April 4th, second-year St.Thomas Law student, Chanae Wood, was recognized by Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan for being the first black Editor-in-Chief of the St.Thomas Law Review.

Chanae was honored in a ceremony attended by other county commissioners as well as her family and supporters, including St.Thomas Law Professor Amy Ronner. The presentation took place at the Board of County Commissioners meeting at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in Miami.

"It was an absolute honor to be recognized by Commissioner Barbara Jordan," stated Chanae. "Commissioner Jordan has been a champion for the residents of District 1, which encompasses the city of Miami Gardens, where I was raised. Therefore, I was extremely excited to find out that she wanted to honor my accomplishment."

"I’m honored to have been selected as the first Black Editor-in-Chief, especially considering that there is a lack of representation of people of color in the legal field," she continued. "However, I’m even more honored that I was selected based on my merit and passion for the organization."

Pictured (L-R) Commissioners Barbara J. Jordan, Esteban L. Bovo, Jr. (Chairman), Chanae Wood, Xavier L. Suarez, Professor Amy Ronner, and Miami-Dade County attorney Abigail Price Williams.

As editor, she plans on focusing on quality publications that bring awareness to trending areas of the law, and by bringing  innovative programming to the law review.

Chanae, who is also President of the St. Thomas Law chapter of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), aspires to become a government law attorney, specializing in state government funding and appropriations. She secured a coveted summer internship with Greenspoon Marder, where she hopes to gain more insight on this area of law by working within the firm’s Government and Government Relations practice. She noted that the incidences of senseless violence, high incarceration rates, and lack of resources seen in marginalized communities of color influenced her decision to attend law school.

The St. Thomas Law Review is a student-run scholarly legal journal. The Law Review was founded in 1987 and published the inaugural issue in the fall of 1988. Membership in the St. Thomas Law Review is limited to second and third-year law students who are invited to join based on their academic success or performance during the write-on competition administered at the beginning of the summer term.