Fritznie Jarbath ’11, President-Elect of the HLA
Photo by Frank Leon at Image1st Photography

Fritznie Jarbath received her Juris Doctor from the Florida International University College of Law in 2011. She works at the Law Office of Frank Wolland, a full-service boutique firm, and was just appointed President-Elect of the Haitian Lawyers Association.

We recently sat down with Jarbath to discuss her career path and what led to her appointment.

Can you trace your career path after law school?

When I graduated from law school, I began working with a solo-practitioner, Frank Wolland. I began working at his firm as an intern my last few months of law school. Although a solo-practitioner at heart, he decided to hire me, and became my mentor. As a result, I learned the challenges of owning and operating my own firm through hands on experience. I then took the big leap and opened my own law firm early last year.

Currently, I still work with Mr. Wolland and he continues to mentor me while I work to build my own firm successful. I am in the process of partnering with another FIU alumna, Melisa Pena.

A few months later, I attended the Minority Mentoring Picnic where I met the incumbent president of the Haitian Lawyers Association, Marie Jo Toussaint. We exchanged contact information and I attended the next HLA meeting. During the meetings, I began to assume leadership roles in the organization to assist the board, and ultimately I was nominated to become Secretary of HLA. During the next election term, I was nominated and elected as President-Elect of HLA.

Most recently, I received the exciting news that I was selected out to the Inaugural class of the Florida Bar’s Leadership Academy.

You were just appointed President-Elect of the Haitian Lawyers Association. What does it mean to you to be appointed President-Elect of the HLA?

It is truly an honor. I was a bit hesitant to take on the position because I unsure I would be ready to take on such a huge role this early in my legal career. However, the support of the board members and past board members assured otherwise.  I made the realization if they believed in me, I knew that they would not let me fail the organization.

It has been a couple of weeks since I started working as the president-elect and I know it will be a successful year.  I look forward to many successful events this year. Our first event will be May 24, 2013, where we will be recognizing some of the trailblazers that founded the HLA over 15 years ago.

What are some of the challenges facing the HLA?

In the past, I believe that HLA’s biggest challenge was publicizing the various events they were hosting. Our aim last year was to bring our organization back to the forefront, and will maintain a goal for the upcoming year.

What are the duties of the President of the HLA? What’s the most fulfilling part of your work?

The president is the face of the organization. He or she is responsible for all aspects of the organization, the chief-executive officer. The by-laws state:

The President shall be the chief executive officer of the Association, shall preside at all meetings of the Association and Board of Directors, shall appoint all committee chairpersons and shall perform all the duties as are usually possessed or exercised by chief executive officers or which may from time to time, be subscribed in these By-Laws or by the Board of Directors.

As the future CEO of the organization, my most fulfilling role will be knowing that I was part of an organization that has made a difference in the community, whether its ensuring that deserving students will receive much needed scholarship money in recognition of their efforts, or helping the community at large to get access to the legal community.

How did your time at FIU Law prepare you for this?

The career planning office at FIU Law always pushed the importance of networking, building relationships, and following up. While my hard work and dedication to the organization earned me my current position, I would not have known about it without taking that first step to get over being shy and introducing myself to others.

Although, I have to admit I had help. I knew that I tend to be shy and that could be detrimental, I invited my outgoing cousin, Pegy Boule, who was interested in going to law school and she facilitated the introductions.  I knew my weakness but I did not let it stop me. I merely crafted a way to overcome it.

Additionally, I found that a few of the faculty were not only willing to mentor me; they were excited to guide the younger generation, for example, Dean Anglade and, Professor Kotey, just to name a few.

What was your favorite class at FIU Law? Why?

There are a few favorites, but if I had to choose one, it would be the clinics. I had the opportunity to partake in the Education Advocacy Clinic (which has converted to the Family and Education Law Clinic) and the Children’s Immigrant Justice Clinic. I was able to serve a community of the indigent, helpless, and voiceless, the children. The clinic provided an outlet for me to help those who needed it the most. The Haitian Lawyers Association does that for me now.

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