Friday, March 24, 2017

St.Thomas Law Students Awarded Scholarships from Florida Association of Women Lawyers

St. Thomas law students, Shannon McGee (2L) and Erika Hernandez (1L) were recently awarded scholarships from the Miami-Dade FAWL Chapter, after being selected from a statewide pool of applicants.

Florida Association of Women Lawyers (FAWL) is a professional organization dedicated to "promoting the advancement of women in the legal profession. Its membership is comprised of lawyers, judges, and professionals within the business community."

The scholarships were presented on March 22, 2017 at the Women Making History Award and Scholarship Presentation Ceremony at the History Miami Museum. Ms. McGee received the Jeannie Perwin Memorial Scholarship and Ms. Hernandez the Judge Gill Freeman Scholarship.

Announcing Erika Hernandez (1L) as winner of the Judge Gill Freeman Scholarship 

Shannon McGee accepting scholarship award

Shannon McGee.(2L) and Laura Varela, Private Sector Career Counselor at St. Thomas Law

St. Thomas Law Human Trafficking Academy - Continuing to Make World of Difference

St. Thomas Law’s Human Trafficking Academy recently concluded its week-long anti-trafficking training. The Academy, directed by law professor Dr. Roza Pati, welcomed fifty national and international participants; some hailing from as far away as the United Kingdom. They represented various professional groups including attorneys, public defenders/prosecutors, law enforcement, social service providers, students, and faith-based organizations.

Through its multidisciplinary and immersion approach, the Human Trafficking Academy - the only one of its kind - brings together these professionals of various disciplines, training them to work together and complement each other’s efforts in identifying and protecting human trafficking victims. The training highlights the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators, strengthening cooperation amongst anti-trafficking institutions and increasing awareness in order to prevent and combat human trafficking.

During the week, 21 courses were taught by top-level experts and professionals. These courses were designed to empower participants with knowledge and skills to actively and effectively engage in anti-trafficking work.

Center front: Kyla (a survivor of human trafficking), Dr. Roza Pati (right) and Michele Gillen (left),
Participants of the Human Trafficking Academy 2017
During the week, the Academy hosted the renowned South Florida television anchor and investigative reporter, Michele Gillen. She discussed the role of the media in combating human trafficking and shared the story of Kyla, a survivor of human trafficking, featured in her short documentary report titled “Trapped.”

Human trafficking survivor Barbara Amaya, who survived domestic sex trafficking as a minor, led a training session titled “Dismantling the Cult of Human Trafficking: A Survivor’s Perspective, in which she shared her transformational story with the attendees, discussed the similarities between domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) and cult recruitment, and ways to address and break the existing trauma bond experienced by DMST victims.  At the age of 12, Ms. Amaya was forced into sex trafficking in Washington, DC and later on the streets of New York City, for over 10 years. 

Barbara Amaya (Author, Advocate & Survivor)
Attendee Feedback:
  • “The course was fabulous—the curriculum well thought out. The speakers were well prepared and relevant. I am disappointed it came to an end so quickly. Dr. Pati and her staff were very welcoming, hospitable and genuine.”
  • “This program was AMAZING. We learned so much. The topics were great and we really enjoyed [them] and had our eyes opened to many things we were unaware of.”
  • “I would be interested in additional training offered by the Academy. This academy was excellent! I think additional levels of the academy would be a great way for those within different fields to come together again, and learn from each other.” 
  • “Thank you for putting together this training on human trafficking. It was superbly executed and very educational. I appreciated the breadth of instruction on legal efforts, law enforcement actions and social services that target human trafficking. Thank you for bringing in such distinguished lecturers, and some exceptional public speakers such as Regina Bernadin, Michelle Gillen, Maria Jose Fletcher, Benjamin Widlanski, Brenda Mezick, Barbara Amaya, and Sean Sellers. I really enjoyed the entire week and appreciated the opportunity to network with professionals from across the country. Thank you, Professor Pati, for your tireless dedication to fighting human trafficking. It is truly inspiring!”

For more information and to join our efforts, please visit or contact us at

Monday, March 20, 2017

St. Thomas Law Professor Wiessner's Book "General Theory of International Law" Published

Professor Siegfried Wiessner, who is regularly consulted by foreign governments and other groups regarding human rights, has just come out with an important and already acclaimed new book, General Theory of International Law, which is the introductory volume of the “American Classics in International Law” series and will adorn the shelves of law libraries around the world. 

Professor Siegfried Wiessner
In this book, Professor Wiessner presented, put into context, and critically appraised specifically American general theories of and about international law. He focused on American Legal Realism, the New Haven School of Jurisprudence, International and Transnational Legal Process, liberal theories of international law, linkages to social sciences, including Law & Economics, Critical Legal Studies, LatCrit, TWAIL, and feminist approaches to the field.

The book has been published by the renowned Dutch publisher of BRILL Nijhoff, and will be formally launched at the upcoming Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law in Washington, D.C.

Yale law professor Michael Reisman, the venerated international law scholar who wrote the preface, praised Professor Wiessner’s work this way: “[M]uch as another European, Alexis De Toqueville, was able to see democracy in America with unique penetration and depth, Siegfried Wiessner . . . brings unique insights and appraisals of America’s contribution to theories of and about international law . . . . His introductory essay . . . is an intellectual tour de force . . . . I am confident that this superlative study will stand the test of time.” 

The faculty celebrated the occasion with a lunchtime reception in Professor Wiessner's honor.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

St. Thomas Law Hosts Community Immigration Panel

On Monday, February 6th,  St. Thomas Law hosted a panel discussion entitled “Justice For All? The Moral and Legal Implications of President Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration” to nearly 100 attendees. 

The panel included Randy McGrorty, the CEO of Catholic Legal Services of Miami, Christine Reis, Director of the St. Thomas Human Rights Insitute, Lauren Gilbert, Professor of Law, and Diego Sanchez, a St. Thomas Law 2019 J.D. Candidate. 

The speakers explored both a historical perspective on immigration in South Florida and their views on the impact of the current Executive Orders. The event was co-sponsored by the St. Thomas Law Office for Career Development and the University’s Center for Community Engagement.

St. Thomas Law, through its Immigration Clinic and Human Rights Institute, has long been at the forefront in the defense of immigrant rights. The recent immigration-related executive orders and rising anxiety among South Florida's immigrant population, made for an engaging, relevant and substantive discussion.

Monday, February 13, 2017

St. Thomas Law Hosts ABA Panel on Establishing Solo/Small Practice

On February 3rd, St. Thomas Law presented an ABA-sponsored lunch & learn panel discussion on setting up a successful solo/small practice entitled, “Setting up for Success: Tips for Becoming a Solo or Small Firm Attorney.”

We welcomed a number of ABA members (professors/deans from other schools and solo practitioners) as well as St. Thomas Law students and faculty. The panelists included two alumni, Carlos Santisteban ’09 and Maria Sallato ’90. 

Maria Sallato, Esq. has been practicing law for almost 25 years, during which she has served clients in Florida, throughout the United States, and all over the world. Her practice is solely dedicated to matrimonial law and complex international custody cases and she is recognized as a specialist in the area of matrimonial law.

Carlos Santisteban, Esq. established CSJR Law Firm five years ago in Coral Gables as a fully-integrated law firm, offering legal services in criminal defense, personal injury, real estate and commercial litigation. A proud double-graduate of St. Thomas University (undergrad and law school), Carlos previously worked as Staff Counsel for the Dade County Police Benevolent Association, where he first worked as a legal intern while in law school.

The ABA Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division is the "national voice for solo, small firm and general practice lawyers, providing a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive ABA home...and ensuring a platform of programs and collaborations that support and advance members in their practice and in improving the legal profession."

St. Thomas Law was honored to host this relevant and informational event, and is proud of the continued focus placed on providing timely and integral programs geared towards preparing our students for success.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

St. Thomas Law Recognized National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month with Series of Events

January was proclaimed National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in the United States.  Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry. It is estimated that there are over 20 million victims worldwide.

St. Thomas Law’s Human Trafficking Academy and the LL.M./J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights hosted a series of events throughout the month as part of the school’s ongoing efforts to increase public awareness, educate, research and inspire action.

The events kicked off on January 11th with a special screening of Not My Life, a powerful documentary film that depicts the cruel and dehumanizing practices of child trafficking in five different continents.

In her opening remarks, Professor Roza Pati, Director of Human Trafficking Academy, noted that,
 “St. Thomas Law through its Intercultural Human Rights Program, is South Florida’s pioneer educational institution to bring human trafficking to the forefront of student, faculty and community engagement." She expressed the delight felt in seeing many other schools and universities joining in this fight. "Since 2004, we have never wavered in our commitment to play a role in ending modern slavery in our lifetime.”

The documentary was followed by a panel discussion with guest speakers Leyla Copertino, Miami Community Engagement Fellow for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, and Gabriela DeBellis, Vice President & Chair of Ignition Fund and J.S.D. Candidate, who had a lively and interaction with the audience. 

A mass and prayer service was held on January 17th, dedicated to human trafficking victims and survivors. This was followed by a presentation: "A Catholic Faith Perspective in Combatting Human Trafficking in the Context of the African Continent.” Father Paul Karenga, Parochial Vicar at St. Mark Catholic Church and St. Thomas Law's J.S.D. Candidate in Intercultural Human Rights presented his findings on typology and prevalence of human trafficking. 

The Human Trafficking Academy also hosted a 'Facebook Live' chat with guest speakers Brenda Mezick, Assistant State Attorney and Chief of Program Development & Public Policy for the Human Trafficking Unit with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, Rev. Msgr. Franklyn Casale, President of St. Thomas University, and Ana I. Vallejo, Co-Director and Attorney with VIDA Legal Assistance, Inc. They discussed current actions being taken to prevent and combat human trafficking in the state of Florida.

On January 23rd, the Human Trafficking Academy, in cooperation with the Office for Career Development, culminated the Human Trafficking Awareness Month activities with a Lunch & Learn presentation: "Prosecuting the Crime of Human Trafficking Under State Law” with Kristy Nunez, Division Chief for the Human Trafficking Unit with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.

St. Thomas Law is committed to respecting and protecting human dignity of each and every person and we will continue our devotion to the cause of ending modern-slavery through outreach, education and research. For more information and to join our efforts please visit or contact us at

Monday, February 6, 2017

St.Thomas Law Entertainment & Sports Law Society Hosts Annual Symposium

The St. Thomas University School of Law Entertainment and Sports Law Symposium brings
together some of the most powerful agents, lawyers, front office executives, and other sports and
entertainment industry professionals from around the country to discuss and debate pertinent
legal and business issues in sports, entertainment, the arts, and the media. The Symposium
allows law students and lawyers from all over South Florida to join the forum discussion, as well
as network and connect with some of the best the sports and entertainment industry has to offer.



9:00 - 9:45 am

9:45 - 10:00 AM

Sports Agent/Business Team Panel
10:00 - 11:15 AM

Keynote Speaker
11:20 - 12:00 PM

Networking Lunch
12:00 - 1:15 PM

Entertainment Law Panel
1:15 - 2:30 PM

Sports Law/Team Panel
2:30 - 3:45 PM


Sports Agent Panel Speakers

Brian Levy - Moderator
Founder/CEO of Goal Line Football, Inc.

Brian Levy has been a certified NFLPA Contract Advisor since 1990. He received both his BA
and MBA at George Washington University, where he graduated with distinction. His work has
been widely praised for the acceleration of career paths of Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike
Tomlin and Vanderbilt Head Coach Derek Mason. Throughout his career, Levy has represented
clients drafted in every round of the NFL Draft. His contract negotiation successes have been
chronicled many times in major national news.

Alexander Esteban
Partner and Agent at Arran, Correa, and Guarch

Alexander Esteban graduated from Florida International University in 2007 with a major in
Marketing, and then enrolled at the St. Thomas University School of Law, where he graduated in
2012. After obtaining his undergraduate degree, Mr. Esteban went on to work for the Miami
HEAT, and soon thereafter founded a sports agency with a focus in representing professional
baseball players before attending St. Thomas Law. Mr. Esteban is an MLBPA Certified Player
Agent and has negotiated over $20 Million in professional baseball contracts. Mr. Esteban is
quoted and featured in several print and digital publications including, MLB Trade
Rumors, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and The Sports Business Journal, where he has been
interviewed on several topics concerning the representation of professional athletes, and matters
affecting the sports and entertainment industries.

Ron Butler, NFLPA 
Contract Advisor at Impact Sports Management 

After receiving his degree from Florida International University, Ron joined Impact Sports
Management and immediately made his mark within the sports representation world. As a
licensed NFLPA contract advisor, he has attracted many of the league’s top young players to the
company and negotiated record-breaking contracts, including Lavonte David’s contract extension
with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Robert Raiola
Director of the Sports and Entertainment Group at PKF O’Connor Davies, LLP

Robert Raiola is the Director of the Sports and Entertainment Group, with more than 20 years of
experience in both the public and private sector. He provides business management services, tax
planning and business consulting to high net worth individuals and their families in the sports
and entertainment industries. Robert co-authored the AICPA book, Winning Tax Strategies for
Athletes & Entertainers, and has lectured nationally on the topic. In addition, Robert was a
founding trustee of the Chatham Athletic Foundation, an organization based in Chatham, NJ
which is focused on promoting youth athletics and safety in athletics through public education

Leon C. McKenzie
President and Founder of Sure Sports Lending 

Leon C. McKenzie is Founder and President of Sure Sports Lending. He launched Sure Sports
Lending in 2009 to focus on an underserviced market of providing athletes in the NFL, NBA,
MLB, NHL, and MLS with competitive credit facilities. He earned his Bachelor of Science in
Finance at West Chester University of Pennsylvania in 1999, before attending Villanova
University’s MBA Program. Leon’s professional background includes – Financial Analyst, Sr.
Commercial Credit Analyst and Head of Financial Underwriting for regional banks, private
lenders and commercial real estate developers.

Erik Burkhardt, Keynote Speaker
Co-Head of Select Sports Group

Erik Burkhardt received his undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University before attending
the St. Thomas University School of Law where his received his J.D. and a Master’s in Sports
Administration. Mr. Burkhardt began representing NFL athletes while in law school, and has
now built Select Sports Group into one of the industry’s giants. With athletes on his roster like
Andy Dalton, Jay Ajayi, Danny Amendola, D’Onta Foreman, and many others, Mr. Burkhardt is
one of the best football agents around.

Entertainment Law Panel Speakers

Allen Jacobi- Moderator
President of The Law Office of Allen Jacobi 

Allen Jacobi, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the University of Miami School of
Law, has represented some of the largest entertainment law transactions in the history of the
State of Florida. On behalf of his music clients, Mr. Jacobi has been awarded gold and platinum
records from such internationally acclaimed artists as The Eric Clapton Band, Trick Daddy, Inner
Circle, Gloria Estefan, The Miami Sound Machine, Marilyn Manson and 2 Live Crew. Mr.
Jacobi may be best known for his defense for the obscenity charges against 2 Live Crew. Mr.
Jacobi has spoken as an expert in the entertainment industry at The Washington DC Music
Forum, The Winter Music Conference, ASCAP Seminars, East Coast Music Forum, North
American Entertainment Sports & IP Law Summit and other music conferences and

Richard Wolfe
President of Wolfe Law Miami 

Richard C. Wolfe has a Juris Doctor and LL.M. from the University of Miami School of Law and
he spent 10 years as a Certified Public Accountant. For the past 5 years, he has been recognized
as a Super Lawyer ™ and as an outstanding lawyer by the South Florida Legal Guide in the areas
of Entertainment Law, Probate, and Business Litigation. Some of the artists he has represented
include The Beatles, 2 Live Crew, Marilyn Manson and members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, among
many others. In the music industry, he has provided representation to over 40 major and
independent record companies, publishing companies, distribution companies, numerous
prominent artists and producers on transactions and litigation matters.

LaShawn Thomas
Founder of Miami Entertainment Law Group 

LaShawn Thomas earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a Minor in International
Relations and a concentration in Caribbean Studies from Florida International University. She is
a graduate of Florida International University College of Law, and her entertainment practice
includes drafting, reviewing and negotiating agreements, coordinating relationships with outside
counsel and providing due diligence for investment opportunities. Her clientele includes
entertainment companies, music labels, models, singers, photographers, promoters, performing
artists, actors, authors, and music and film and television producers. Ms. Thomas also provides
services as the business manager for several of her clients, where her duties include ensuring
proper payment for services rendered by the client.

Gregory Bloom
Attorney at ChaseLawyers 

Gregory Bloom earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and his J.D.
from Florida International University. His practice areas include television & film, copyrights,
radio, trademarks, intellectual property law, corporate law, entertainment, sports and leisure law,
and internet. He has represented numerous high level athletes in both boxing and Mixed Martial
Arts, and has handled complex, high-profile contract negotiations, sponsorship and endorsement
deals, and brand recognition opportunities for his clients. Before joining ChaseLawyers, Mr.
Bloom worked on Wall Street for nine years, where he gained a deep knowledge and
understanding of corporate and transactional matters that prepared him to deal with the rigors of
the 21st-Century sports and entertainment landscape.

Alexander Esteban
Partner and Agent at Arran, Correa, and Guarch

Alexander Esteban graduated from Florida International University in 2007 with a major in
Marketing, and then enrolled at the St. Thomas University School of Law, where he graduated in
2012. After obtaining his undergraduate degree, Mr. Esteban went on to work for the Miami
HEAT, and soon thereafter founded a sports agency with a focus in representing professional
baseball players before attending St. Thomas Law. Mr. Esteban focuses his practice in the areas
of commercial litigation and intellectual property litigation. Mr. Esteban has represented a major
Venezuelan television network in a multi-national copyright dispute over the ownership rights to
an Emmy-winning T.V. show, a leading electronic cigarette manufacture in a trademark
infringement claim that resulted in their competitor removing all products bearing infringing
trademarks from the marketplace, and several other companies in commercial and contractual

Sports Law/Team Panel Speakers

Jeffrey Kominsky- Moderator
Associate at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP 

Jeffrey Kominsky, a graduate of the University of Michigan and The Ohio State University
School of Law, currently serves as South Florida's Chapter President of the Florida Sports Law
Association as well as a Regional member for the Sports Lawyers Association’s Outreach
Committee. In both 2015 and 2016, Mr. Kominsky was recognized as a "Florida Rising Star" by
Florida Super Lawyers Magazine. From 2002 through 2005, Mr. Kominsky interned with the
Minnesota Vikings, reporting directly to former Vikings owner, Red McCombs. Mr. Kominsky’s
interest in sports law/business continued into his studies at law school as the Founder & Chair of
the Inaugural Sports Law Symposium at The Ohio State University.

Sean Flynn
CEO of Miami FC 

Sean Flynn currently serves as the CEO of the Miami FC, an NASL soccer team in Miami,
Florida. Having previously served as the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Event Booking
with the Miami Marlins and Vice President of Marketing with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Mr.
Flynn led award-winning advertising and promotional efforts that have been replicated
throughout the industry. He returns to soccer, a sport where he started his career as the Director
of Marketing and Sales for the United Soccer League. Flynn received his Master's in Sports
Administration from St. Thomas University in Miami, and completed his undergraduate work in
Accounting at St. Mary's University in San Antonio.

Chase Carlson
 Attorney at Carlson & Associates 

Chase Carlson graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in
Finance in 2007. While in law school at Florida International University, he obtained a Master
of Science degree in Finance in 2009, and earned his Juris Doctor degree in 2010. Chase has
represented many professional athletes in various legal matters and has recovered money for
over a dozen that were victims of investment fraud or mismanagement. His athlete clients have
included Rudi Johnson, Larry English, Keyon Dooling, John St. Clair, Javier Arenas, Pat Sims,
Guy Whimper, Glenn Holt, and Johnny Williams. Mr. Carlson focuses his practice on
investment fraud litigation, corporate disputes, and partnership disputes.

Claire Zovko
Professor at University of Miami 

Claire Zovko received a B.A. in Business Administration and Mathematics minor from Pacific
Lutheran University, where she played collegiate basketball, and a J.D. from University of
Miami School of Law. Ms. Zovko is the Founder of Sports Law Chat, a Twitter Chat & Blog,
dedicated to informed discussions on relevant topics of sports law. Previously, Ms. Zovko
served as Of-Counsel at Buckner Sports Law, as well as in the legal and operations department
with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Ms. Zovko’s legal experience includes professional and
collegiate sports experience including in-house legal affairs, D-I compliance, and legal counsel
for professional athletes and agents.