Alumnus and local NBC 6 reporter Willard Shepard (’10) was instrumental in helping a suicidal veteran get to safety. More on the story here.
FIU College of Law graduate David Mark, with LendKey in New York, has been promoted to Senior Vice President, Regulatory Compliance Counsel. More on the story here.
Professor Baker published a Preview of the Establishment Clause case which is being argued at the Supreme Court this week.
Synopsis:“The Town of Greece, New York has an elected five-member Town Board. The Board invites local clergy to offer an opening prayer at its regular, monthly meetings. The two plaintiffs are residents of the Town who disapproved of this practice enough to make a federal case out of it. The District Court rejected their challenge, but the Second Circuit sided with the plaintiffs and ruled that the Town was violating the Establishment Clause in the way it was arranging for the official prayers. Now the Supreme Court will have to sort out its prior precedents on public prayer and the newer justices will have to declare their views of the practice. The decision will determine the proper constitutional etiquette for these occasions of ceremonial deism, i.e., religious rituals by the government.”
The Constitutionality of Saying a Prayer at a City Council Meeting: May America Bless God?, Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases at 56 (Nov. 4, 2013) (Town of Greece v. Galloway, ___ S.Ct. ___ (2014))
Florida International University College of Law’s Community Externship Program is hosting a Pro Bono Week to coincide with the American Bar Association’s National Pro Bono Celebration from Monday, October 21, 2013 through Saturday, October 26, 2013.
In an effort to show our appreciation for all of your time and energy devoted to our FIU Law family, we would like to extend an invitation for you to join us on Monday, October 21, 2013 for an Attorney Appreciation Reception from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in the College of Law Atrium. Please R.S.V.P. to Jessica Michelle Ciminero at email@example.com by October 12th if you will be in attendance.
We would also like to extend a token of our gratitude to you by offering a Free Ethics CLE, “Teaching From Practice: The Changing Role of the Law in a Multi- and Social Media Society and the Duty to Learn, to Know, to Do,” on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the College of Law, RDB 1009. Please see the attached program overview and outline detailing the event as well as the registration form.
To culminate our Pro Bono Week we will be hosting a Community Legal Fair in areas of Family & Education Law, Health Law & Policy, and Immigration & Human Rights Law on Saturday, October 26, 2013 from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Miami Rescue Mission (159 NW 1st Court, Miami, FL 33127). We would love to share with our current law students the opportunity to help our community providing pro bono services in conjunction with alumni involvement. Please R.S.V.P. to Jessica Michelle Ciminero at firstname.lastname@example.org by October 14th if you will be joining us for this event.
For any additional information, please visit the ABA’s Celebrate Pro Bono website for our event information at: http://www.probono.net/celebrateprobono/events/event.492604-Florida_International_University_College_of_Law_Pro_Bono_Week.
Evening Alumni Join to Create Evening Student Scholarship
Former evening students have come together to create an evening student scholarship program. Led by Alumni Association President, Robert Scavone Jr. ’12, alumni I. Seth Denison ’10, Robert Foley ’10, Gunnar Mandrisch ’12, Pamela Pedlow ’06, Sanjeev Shah ’12, and Roberto Suarez ’11, will each donate $500.00 a year for five years. The funds will provide scholarships for evening students who have at least 5 years of post-undergraduate work experience and remain employed while attending classes at FIU Law.
“When the group began discussing the scholarship, there was a consensus that many evening students deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments. Evening graduates are among the most successful FIU Law alumni, and the evening program is an asset to the profession. We hope what we are doing will inspire others to support FIU Law and its students,” said Scavone Jr.
“Our alumni are doing really well and are giving back,” said R. Alexander Acosta, Dean of the College of Law. “This group of alumni–many only a year into their legal career–came to FIU Law as successful professionals, and I am proud that we were able to helped them advance their careers.”
About the donors:
I. Seth Denison is a Director for Thoroughbred Capital Partners, a private equity firm, as well as an associate at the law firm of Jorge L. Gurian, P.A. Prior to law school and during law school, Denison served as a police officer in the town of Virginia Key Beach, Florida. Denison is treasurer of the FIU Law Alumni Association.
Robert Foley is founder of Robert P. Foley, P.A., where he focuses his practice on assisting military veterans in appeals for benefits before the Veteran’s Administration. Prior to law school, Foley spent several decades as a veterinarian and still owns Upper Keys Veterinary Hospital in Islamorada, Florida.
Gunnar Mandrisch is an associate at Peckar & Abramson, P.C., where he focuses his practice on construction law, land use law, environmental law, administrative law, and general business litigation. Prior to practicing law, Mandrisch worked with one of South Florida’s premier general contractors, where he served as an Estimator, Project Engineer, and Project Manager.
Pamela Pedlow is founder of The Law Office of Pamela J. Pedlow, P.A., in Melbourne, Florida, where she practices family law, foreclosure defense, bankruptcy, and civil litigation. Pedlow is a member of FIU Law’s inaugural class.
Sanjeev Shah is a regional director and principal with Lea+Elliott, Inc.—a transportation consultancy firm. A registered engineer and member of the Florida Bar, he leads the firm in providing strategic advisory services to clients on large infrastructure and transit projects. Shah has more than 20 years of extensive experience in the planning, programming, design, procurement structuring, contracting, and program management of automated guideway and rail transit systems.
Roberto Suarez is the founder of The Law Office of Roberto M. Suarez, PL, where he focuses his practice on intellectual property law. Suarez is a U.S registered patent attorney with more than 15 years of engineering experience. An inventor and patent holder in his own right, Suarez has developed innovative products for the aviation, marine, consumer electronics, and mobile devices industries.
Robert Scavone Jr. a law clerk to the Honorable Barbara Lagoa on the Florida Third District Court of Appeal and President of the FIU Law Alumni Association. He is also an adjunct professor at FIU Law. Scavone Jr. will begin a clerkship for the Honorable Adalberto Jordan on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in the fall of 2014.
If you are interested in contributing to this or other scholarships, please contact Anthony Rionda at email@example.com.
Abraham S. Ovadia is paying it forward to his alma mater, making a milestone gift to fund career planning and placement for FIU College of Law students.
Ovadia, 29, 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.
Ovadia is the founder of Florida PIP Law Firm, PA where he focuses on Personal Injury Protection (PIP) cases. While attending law school at FIU, he worked at a law firm handling PIP claims. After graduating in 2009, he returned to his hometown of Boca Raton to open his own law firm and he now recruits and hires FIU law school graduates.
“The FIU College of Law made an impression on me – from the diverse student body to the driven first generation law students,” Ovadia said. “I’m particularly proud of the success FIU law alumni have had. This gift will help the law school identify more job placement opportunities for its students and continue its reputation for producing the highest quality lawyers.”
FIU leaders, students and alumni gathered on Thursday evening for a ribbon cutting ceremony where the office was renamed the Abraham S. Ovadia Career Planning and Placement Office.
“Abraham Ovadia’s gift will inspire our students and alumni. In five years, Mr. Ovadia graduated from FIU Law, built a successful practice and is now in a position to give back to his law school,” said R. Alexander Acosta, dean of FIU’s College of Law.
“FIU Law is a place where students and their goals matter,” he continued. “As the job market becomes increasingly competitive, the Abraham Ovadia Career Planning and Placement Office will work to help match FIU Law students to their career goals. Mr. Ovadia’s substantial investment will significantly impact our graduates and their career success. We are grateful to Abraham for his generous contribution to our school and look forward to our continued relationship.”
DC Alumni Chapter hosts Noshing with Notables: Immigration Reform
The FIU Law DC Alumni Chapter, in conjunction with FIU in DC, hosted Noshing with Notables: A Discussion on Immigration Reform on Thursday, August 29th, 2013. Professor Juan Carlos Gomez joined the alumni gathering, held at Van Scoyoc and Associates, and helped frame the discussion on the issue. Notable panelists included Max Sevillia of National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and Jose Parra of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Office. Below are a few images from the event. To learn more or get involved with our the DC Law Alumni Chapter click here.
Kristin Drecktrah is an associate attorney at Gomm & Smith, P.A., a law firm located in Miami specializing in international investment, cross-border transactions, and international dispute resolution. Kristin received her J.D. degree from FIU College of Law in 2011.
Kristin Drecktrah ’11 published in ABA Journal’s Section of International Law and participates in arbitration at the World Bank
What sparked your interest in International Law?
Long before deciding to pursue a law degree, I was certain that my career would be linked to international relations. In high school and college, I focused on courses and activities with an international component. I completed a graduate program in translation and interpreting, lived in Portugal and Mexico, and became fluent in Portuguese and Spanish. By the time I applied to law school, I knew I wanted a career in international law, even if I wasn’t quite sure what that meant.
You were recently published in the ABA Journal’s Section of International Law. What led to that opportunity?
Like many other students, I joined the ABA when I began law school. Because of my life experiences and interests, I gravitated toward the Section of International Law. I have joined a few committees within that section over the years, including the International Energy and Natural Resources Committee. I discovered that the Section of International Law’s Year-In-Review provided a publishing opportunity that fit my research on energy developments in Brazil. I co-authored the publication with Mauricio Gomm and Quinn Smith, partners at Gomm & Smith. Virtually all of our firm’s work has some international aspect, and a large part of our work deals with Brazil. Energy regulation and dispute resolution are hot issues in Brazil, and we are constantly looking for ways to be part of the dialogue, including finding opportunities to publish.
You also recently participated in an arbitration at the World Bank. How did you become involved?
It was an opportunity to participate in an investor-state arbitration hearing at the World Bank’s International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in the matter of Flughafen Zürich AG v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Diego Gosis, of counsel at Gomm & Smith, is counsel for the Republic along with our firm in Miami and a firm in Argentina. The weeklong hearing was entirely in Spanish before a panel of three arbitrators, each from different countries. I found strength in my U.S. legal training to assist in preparing our fact and expert witnesses for cross-examination. In law school, I had competed in the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Competition, which simulates an ICSID arbitration. That experience provided the base of substantive knowledge that helped me dive into this real-life ICSID hearing. The interests at stake, the unrestricted scope of applicable law, and the complex damages calculations are a few reasons why I find this type of work to be the most fascinating and challenging intellectual exercise.
How did your experience at FIU Law prepare you for your career?
FIU was the best decision I could have made. Even the least internationally oriented course was outward-looking in some way. Professor Gomez’s International Commercial Arbitration course sparked my interest in international arbitration. His guidance led me to compete in the Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Competition and the FDI Competition. Professor Mirow’s Legal History course provided a broad understanding of the development of the common law system in England and then in the United States, and it showed how the common law mirrors in some respects and differs in others from the legal systems of other countries in Europe and Latin America. In International Trade Law and Policy, Professor Esquirol illustrated many of the critical issues in international trade and investment and the methods to resolve them, from imposing trade barriers to submitting claims before a dispute settlement body.
What advice do you have for students interested in a similar career path?
I found that FIU has an incredibly talented faculty with diverse expertise in international law. Students should get to know these professors, since they are the ones that can help socialize them with the field. Also, memberships in local, national, and international groups can help put students in touch with like-minded peers and practitioners. On the most basic level, groups show students what kind of opportunities in international law exist. In law school, I attended meetings hosted by the Miami International Arbitration Society and the Florida Bar’s International Law Section. Those events gave me a chance to get to know local practitioners, including the people who would later hire me to be their associate. International law is a relatively niche field and at a local level, its players comprise a small community. Interested students have the ability to get involved and meet the people who can help them jump start their career. And while learning in the classroom is necessary to have a successful career, paving a unique path by following one’s interests and gaining exposure is satisfying and invaluable.
FIU Law Alumni Association Charters D.C. Alumni Chapter
Since the College of Law’s first graduating class, FIU Law alumni have been heading to the District to join the throngs of lawyers and policy makers in Washington, D.C. These alumni have carried the flag of FIU Law and established a solid alumni base in our nation’s capital. After spending the last few years as a de facto alumni association chapter, the FIU Law Alumni Association Board of Directors, last week, formally approved the Chapter’s charter and sanctioned the Chapter.
“The chartering of an alumni association chapter here in D.C. is unquestionably a significant step forward for the FIU Law community,” said Peter Smith ’09, Chairperson of the D.C. Chapter and member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. “D.C. is among the world’s great legal hubs, so it was imperative that FIU Law continue to cultivate its presence here. We will play an important role in growing the national and international reputation of FIU Law.”
In addition to a vibrant alumni base, FIU Law students are also finding their way to D.C. for summer positions. Second-year student, Dick Ortega, spent the summer working for DLA Piper, and was recently offered a permanent position with the firm’s D.C. office following graduation.
“Our alumni are doing incredibly well,” said Robert Scavone Jr. ’12, President of the FIU Law Alumni Association. “FIU law is developing a national reputation and our alumni are establishing roots in a number of places across the country. I am pleased that the Board voted to approve the Chapter. I know Peter, Andy Diaz (’09) and others in D.C. have been working hard to make our presence felt.”
To learn more about the FIU Law Alumni Association and ways to support its mission, visit the Association’s webpage.
Maria D. Garcia ’08, was recently named to the inaugural class of Fellows for the Florida Bar’s Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy
What area of practice are you in?
I graduated from FIU Law in 2008. I focus my practice on health care law, as well as international matters and business litigation. I represent a variety of health care providers, including physicians, group practices, hospitals and other specialty facilities, in both regulatory and litigation issues. I also address commercial litigation matters for various local businesses in our community.
Tell us about the award?
The Florida Bar’s Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy just chose its inaugural class of Academy Fellows. The Leadership Academy is a year-long, multi-session training program designed to assist lawyers from across the State of Florida in becoming better leaders within our profession and our communities. There were over 300 applications from attorneys throughout the state to join the inaugural class of Academy Fellows.
Academy Fellows follow a curriculum tailored to enhance our professional development, knowledge base and experience, including attending Florida Bar events and special educational programs. For example, past presidents of the Florida Bar share their experiences and participate in interactive sessions with Academy Fellows. As Academy Fellows, we are given the opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of the Florida Bar and our role in the legal profession, while enhancing our personal leadership skills. The Academy’s Mission is to identify, nurture and inspire effective leadership within the Bar and the legal community. The year-long program will conclude with graduation at the 2014 Florida Bar Convention in Orlando, Florida.
What does an award like this mean for you professionally?
Becoming a member of the inaugural class of Academy Fellows has been a great honor and opportunity for me personally and professionally. It has given me the chance to meet amazing attorneys and leaders throughout the State of Florida and to share ideas and goals with each other. As an Academy Fellow, I have also gained access to well prepared and sophisticated leadership development programming which has helped me grow as an attorney and active community leader. The lessons and ideas which I have been exposed to, thus far, truly have been enjoyable and beneficial to my growth as a person. The opportunity to collaborate which such great people, while having the time to individually reflect and set goals, has been priceless.
How did your experience at FIU Law prepare you for your career?
FIU Law is where it all began. FIU Law has given me life-long friends and relationships and a highly respected law degree. The excellent professors and administration always put forth their best efforts in instructing me as a student and guiding me into our profession. FIU Law is a place where students count and each person’s individual goals and needs are addressed. Now, as an alumna, I hope and strive to always give back to FIU Law because without this school, I would not be where I am today.
What advice do you have for students interested in a similar career path?
The best advice is to always work hard and to always set goals for your career and life. Those two elements, with a little bit of luck, are unstoppable. Equally important, you should value the relationships that you build with others and strive to give back to those around you.