Alumnus Rob Manning ’06, of the law firm Dean Mead in Viera, Florida, was elected to the Board of Directors of the Melbourne Regional Chamber of East Central Florida. Manning’s practice includes business litigation, construction law, employment law, real estate litigation and community association law. He is the record counsel for multiple community associations across the Space Coast. Manning also serves on the Board of Directors of the Space Coast Tiger Bay Club. He is a member of the Brevard County Bar Association, and served as President of the Young Lawyers Division of the Brevard County Bar Association in 2010. Manning is also a graduate of Leadership Brevard Class of 2009. Manning is an AV-Preeminent® rated attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. Prior to practicing law, Manning worked as a television news reporter and anchor at network affiliated stations across the Southeast.
Maria D. Garcia, of Zumpano Patricios & Winker, was appointed by the President-Elect of the Florida Bar, Gregory W. Coleman, to serve on the Judicial Nominating Procedures Committee. This standing committee assists the Governor of Florida and the judicial nominating commissions throughout the state in discharging their respective duties under Article V, Section 11, of the Constitution of Florida, as well as advises the judicial nominating commissioners on new or proposed legislation related to the judiciary and the judicial selection process.
Kristin Drecktrah ’11 of Gomm & Smith was a panelist at the recent Bahamas Young Arbitrators Conference. The panel of attorneys discussed the role young practitioners are playing in promoting the Bahamas as a center for international arbitration in the Caribbean. Drecktrah and others also offered insight into how they developed their practices in international arbitration and gave advice on how to enter the field.
“Right now, there isn’t really a ‘go-to’ seat for international arbitration in the region,” said Drecktrah. “My fellow panelists and I discussed the importance of working to help make the Bahamas the regional hub.”
The Bahamas Young Arbitrators Conference was held on the eve of the International Centre for Commercial Arbitration’s (ICCA) conference. This year, the ICCA chose Miami as the host city for their worldwide, biennial conference.
Drecktrah’s interest in international arbitration started at FIU Law when she enrolled in Professor Gomez’ course on the subject. “It struck me as a thriving and fascinating area of law,” she said. While in law school, Drecktrah also participated in a number of international competitions including the Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. “I am able to put the skills I learned at FIU Law into practice at Gomm & Smith where I focus on commercial arbitration, commercial litigation, and investment arbitration.
Eric. S. Brumfield ’10 knows the importance of gaining practical experience while attending law school. He believes students who acquire ‘real life’ experience while in law school set themselves apart when they enter the job from those students who only have classroom experience. It’s the ‘real life’ experience that provides vital skills students often times do not learn in law school.
With this thought in mind, and needing additional help at his growing firm, Brumfield & Willis, Brumfield hired FIU Law second-year Wayne Russell. “I know FIU Law trains quality lawyers who can help our firm, and I know from first-hand experience that working in the legal field while in law school is a tremendous benefit once you enter the work force,” said Brumfield. “It is really a win-win for us. The student gains valuable experience and we get quality work product.”
Russell echoed Brumfield’s sentiments. “Working at the firm has been an invaluable experience which has, undoubtedly, prepared me for practice,” Russell said. “I thank Eric for giving me this opportunity and I hope more FIU Law alumni will follow his lead. I know my classmates would appreciate the opportunity to work at a firm while in school.”
While at FIU Law, Brumfield interned at the U.S. Coast Guard’s JAG Office and at the Miami-Dade Office of the Public Defender. “Those experiences helped me become a better lawyer,” said Brumfield. He noted that he will continue to hire FIU Law students and plans on offering Russell an associates position after he graduates and clears the Florida Bar. “To the extent that my friends and colleagues can afford to bring on clerks, I encourage them to hire FIU Law students,” says Brumfield. “I am confident they will not be disappointed.”
Back in April, Clay Kuhn of Clayton Tyler Kuhn, P.A., and Mirene Mairena of Mirene Mairena, P.A., received a phone call from a young woman whose car had been seriously rear-ended: an accident caused by a driver checking a lottery ticket. After an initial interview and preliminary investigation, it was clear their new client would require significant medical attention and surgery to address the injuries she had sustained.
The client’s injuries included major trauma to both wrists, and her surgically repaired back was re-aggravated. She endured bilateral carpel tunnel release surgery to her right wrist and months of physical therapy and treatment for her back. After the surgery, her right arm ballooned to three times its normal size caused by a blood clot following surgery which required several days of hospitalization. “Her recovery was not easy, but Mirene and I were with her every step of the way,” said Kuhn.
“In cases of this magnitude, our firms stress the importance of three things: liability, collectability, and damages,” Kuhn said. “Liability and collectability were not a major issue; however, the damages were extensive. That is where Mirene and I made every effort to ensure that our client had access to the medical attention she needed and the settlement she deserved.”
After months of negotiations, Mairena and Kuhn were able to obtain a six figure pre-suit settlement for the client from one of the insurance carriers. After further negotiations with the second insurance carrier, they obtained a settlement five times greater than their original offer. “Clay and I were able to secure this settlement by being creative and thinking outside the box,” said Mairena. “In order to convey to the insurance company that our client was a human being and not just a claim number, we had her send the adjuster handwritten notes in which she detailed her pain hardships.” Mairena and Kuhn also sent the insurance companies medical articles from well-known doctors detailing the effects of blood clots on women. “We built relationships with the adjusters very early on in the case, which paid off.” said Mairena.
Both Mairena’s and Kuhn’s firms are housed inside FIU Law’s LawBridge™ facilities. “Our firms owe the FIU LawBridge™ program a debt of gratitude, not only for the success in this case, but for the success of both our firms,” said Mairena. “Being members of LawBridge™ gives us the opportunity to work with other bright and dedicated FIU Law grads,” said Kuhn. “The collaboration with our fellow LawBridge™ members gives us the ability to grow and experience the legal profession in a very unique way. It has given us the platform to succeed.”
After the accident my bills and other expenses where racking up and I was having trouble getting the rest of the necessary treatments I needed for my injuries. This is about the time I realized that I could no longer do this on my own without the help of a lawyer. Up until this point I was attempting to deal with all of this on my own, which added to my stress and pain. I was referred to Mirene and Clay from a friend who knew them from law school. These two people have been truly amazing, especially for dealing with me. Sometimes I was an emotional wreck because this accident cost me so much financially, emotionally, and professionally. They always listened to my concerns and made me feel like I could finally breathe. This accident involved two other insurance companies other than my own and has been a constant battle it seems. But Mirene and Clay managed to get me the best possible settlement; I will have enough to pay off all my medical expenses and the debt I accrued due to missing work. This accident has left me with a condition I will have to deal with for the rest of my life and thanks to Mirene and Clay; I will have enough money to provide for my future medical treatments. I don’t know how I can ever thank them for all that they have done for me.
On Saturday, March 15, 2014 the Haitian Lawyers Association (HLA) recognized three individuals with ties to FIU Law. During their 16th annual Scholarship Gala, alumna Fritznie Jarbath ’11 was recognized as HLA’s incoming president; Professor Ediberto Roman was honored for his impact on immigration reform; and for his academic achievements, second-year FIU Law student Guybert “Jimmy” Paul, received one of four scholarships. Congratulations, to the honorees!
The Haitian Lawyers Association (HLA) is a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to promote excellence, professionalism, equality and diversity in the legal profession and among our members and to facilitate the administration of justice while striving to protect and promote the general welfare of the Haitian-American community and other minority residents in the South Florida area.
During FIU’s 13th Annual Torch Awards Gala, which was held on Saturday, March 8, 2014, FIU Law alumnus Abraham Ovadia ’09 was recognized as a ‘notable alumni and influential member of the university community.’
This past September, Ovadia donated $400,000 to the FIU College of Law to enhance its career planning and placement office, which now bears his name. The gift is the largest to date from an FIU Law School alumnus to the law school, and is one of FIU’s largest gifts from an individual alumnus under the age of 30.
The Torch Awards represent the highest honor conferred by FIU to a graduate. The recipients serve as “torchbearers” or leaders who exemplify the best of the university and serve as an inspiration to all. In 1972, FIU dedicated the Torch of Knowledge, Service and Understanding to the memory of the late Ernest R. Graham, the forward-thinking senator who championed the University’s creation. On FIU’s 25th anniversary, the FIU Alumni Association established the Torch Awards to honor the successful individuals who have had a positive impact on their profession, the community and the University.
The alumni and faculty that are selected represent FIU’s finest.
Alumna Liana Eustacia Reyes’ ’11 commentary in the The Palm Beach Post.
Ms. Reyes is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in International Affairs at NYU and has Masters of Arts in Global Governance from FIU, as well as a Certificate in Global Arbitration from Hamline University’s School of Law. Her research focuses on international law and policy, international political economy, and non-traditional security studies including narco-trafficking and securitization.
During the Florida Justice Association’s (FJA) Proof and Argument of Unique Aspects of Damages in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases Workhorse Seminar in Orlando, four FIU Law alumni made presentations. The workshop was part of a four-day CLE seminar and included sessions on products liability litigation, premise liability, and personal injury and wrongful death litigation.
Dustin Herman’10, of the Romano Law Group, pitched the idea of the Proof and Argument panel to FJA organizers as a way to provide FJA members with a primer on current trends and the various elements of damages in Florida in personal injury and wrongful death cases. “It was a great event and the feedback we have receiving has been tremendous. FJA is interested in the young lawyers presentation for next year,” Hermand commented. In addition to Herman, who presented on Loss of Capacity for the Enjoyment of Life, Courtney Engelke ’11, of Colson Hicks Eidson, spoke about Past and Future Medical Damages; Lisa Cabrera ’10, of the Alvarez Law Firm, presented on Scarring and Disfigurement; and Riley H. Beam ’12, of Douglas R. Beam, P.A., spoke about Embarrassment, Humiliation, and Inconvenience. Together, the alumni collaborated on their research, prepared a ‘Trial Toolbox’ for FJA members, and hope to be published in a forthcoming FJA publication.
“I thank Dustin for organizing the panel,” said Engelke. “It was a tremendous opportunity, one I am proud to have been a part of.”
The event was a reflection of the impact FIU Law graduates are having in the legal profession. “FIU Law alumni continue to do remarkably well,” Robert Scavone Jr. President of the FIU Law Alumni Association, said. “Dustin, Courtney, Lisa and Riley represent the great work our alumni are doing. There is no doubt that FIU Law alumni are having an impact and elevating our school’s standing.”
FIU alumna Mary Olszewska ’09 was featured in the Daily Business Review for her work as second chair trial counsel for a case that was bifurcated into liability and damage trials.