Under the supervision of Clinic Director Peggy Maisel and Assistant Director Natalie Castellanos, law students Randy Narkir and Allan Zullinger successfully advocated on behalf of a client during a Social Security administrative law hearing. The appeal was successful because of the cooperation between FIU Law and the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine’s Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP program. The program sends interdisciplinary teams into low-income communities to track and monitor the health of families. Each team includes a student from the schools of Medicine, Social Work, Nursing, and Public Health. When potential legal issues arise, the team members contact the HELP Clinic to evaluate the legal issues and provide legal representation. The open line of communication between the different disciplines creates a unique opportunity to educate students through collaboration that often does not exist in their respective professions.
October 22, 2013 Miami Herald article: Haitian descendants in Dominican Republic face human tragedy
On October 17 2013, FIU College of Law’s Black Law Students Association and Caribbean Student Bar Associations presented the Third Annual Judicial Panel –Paving the Way to Judicial Success – and welcomed Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy A. Quince, former Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul G. Cantero, III, Honorable Alicia M. Otazo-Reyes, United States District Court, Southern District of Florida and Honorable Donald Graham, United States District Court Southern District of Florida as panelist. The panel members discussed their expectations for hiring clerks as well as clerkship and mentorship opportunities.
The open dialogue between the students and panelists allowed for the sharing of ‘real life’ experiences including how to pursue the law profession, how to evaluate law firms and the process of selecting the right one.
In addition to the panel discussion, three law students were presented with scholarships. The scholarships were created during the College of Law’s 10th anniversary celebration and are named after Florida Supreme Court Justices Barbara J. Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy A. Quince for the continuous support of the College of Law.
Scholarships were awarded to:
Justice Barbara J. Pariente Scholarship - Franco Bacigalupo
Justice R. Fred Lewis Scholarship – Chanel Rowe
Justice Peggy A. Quince Scholarship – Altanese Phenelus
Since 2009, 17 alumni have accepted 23 State Appellate or Federal Clerkships, including six at U.S. Courts of Appeals. Read More.
Please join BLSA and CSBA on Thursday October 17, to welcome Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince, former Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero, US District Court Judge Donald Graham and Federal Magistrate Judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes.
Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m.
Presentation will follow at 12 p.m.
FIU College of Law is one of the nation’s most outstanding law schools, according to The Princeton Review and is featured in the 2014 edition of “The Best 169 Law Schools.” FIU College of Law is one of 63 schools in the book (about 37% of the 169 profiled) that appear on one or more of the book’s ranking lists. It is number three on the list for “Best Environment for Minority Students” and number four on the list for “Most Diverse Faculty.”
FIU Law Continues to Rank Among the Top Law Schools in the Nation for Diversity
FIU Law ranked #1 in Florida and #2 nationally in HispanicBusiness.com’s 2013 Annual Diversity Report—Best Schools for Diversity Practices. This marks the third year in a row that FIU Law earned high marks from the publication.
Presently, FIU Law is outranking all of the nation’s law schools in several categories, including: highest percentage of Hispanic enrollment (43.1%), highest percentage of J.D. degrees earned by Hispanics (42.3%), and highest percentage of Hispanic faculty (32.3%).
Other national publications also recognized FIU Law as ranking amongst the most diverse law schools in the nation in 2013. U.S. News & World Report ranked FIU Law #1 in Florida and #7 nationally in its Diversity Index. Princeton Review ranked FIU Law as #1 in Florida and #2 nationally for Best Environment for Minority Students, and #1 in Florida and #3 nationally for Most Diverse Faculty.
“FIU Law proudly reflects the diverse Florida community and is proud to be recognized for living up to this ideal,” said R. Alexander Acosta, Dean of FIU Law. “We are equally proud to provide entry into the legal profession through a high-quality, dynamic, affordable legal education.”
Hispanic Business’ ranking criteria is based on “enrollment, faculty, reputation, retention rate and the use of progressive programs to recruit, support and mentor Hispanic students.” Learn more about its methodology here.
FIU’s Colleges of Education and Law host Math & Civics Summer Academy at Miami Northwestern High School
Sponsored by a small grant from the Miami Foundation, the Algebra Project (AP) and the Colleges of Education & Law operated a six-week Math & Civics summer academy for upcoming tenth grade students at Miami Northwestern High School.
Monday through Thursday, students at Miami Northwestern engaged in learning mathematics by working with Dr. Bob Moses, President of the Algebra Project, and Rose Pierre, graduate of the College of Education’s math education Master’s program, along with six Young People’s Project (YPP) college math literacy workers.
The high school students were also coached in group process by the college’s Urban Education graduate student, Danielle McLaughlin. College of Education professors, Maria Lovett and Joan Wynne, and FIU graduate, Gina Greenidge, also participated in visits to homes and other efforts to recruit new students into the newly forming 9th grade AP cohort program.
In addition as a part of that program, students, sponsored by Michelle Mason, Sr. Associate Dean of the College of Law (COL), came to the COL each Friday and learned the rudiments of Civic Engagement.
On their first Friday, Law Professor and former Judge Phyllis Kotey, engaged students in conversations about the Constitution and immersed students in Moot Court trials where students studied a case involving Fourth Amendment rights, alternated playing the roles of Judge, Prosecutor, and Defense Attorney and argued those positions.
The following week, students came again to the COL, and led by Global Learning Coordinator, Eric Feldman, learned the principles of democratic dialogue. During the day’s opening discussion, Feldman invited students to exchange ideas about the current media outlets available to them to discuss civic issues: social media, for example, and whether these formats foster thoughtful and productive conversation about public problems. Students learned how personal values influence civic participation, and engaged in activities exploring how their own values influence their decisions. Using an abridged version of a National Issues Forum, the students also participated in “deliberative dialogues,” developed by the Kettering Foundation.
In July, students, led by the Young People’s Project college math literacy workers, participated in team building activities and conversations about the work of the Algebra Project and its roots in the leadership model of the Southern Freedom Movement.
They also engaged in leadership development and team building activities led by Franklin McCune and his lead team from the Center for Leadership & Service. Through rigorous activities involving mental and physical challenges, students learned to work together as a team to creatively develop strategies for racing against time to complete tasks.
Students will continue throughout the summer and school year to engage in professional development activities to grow as an academic team, as leaders in civic action and as teachers of mathematics to younger children in Liberty City. This program has created a broad coalition of partners interested in broadening the opportunities for academic growth of disenfranchised youth: The Algebra Project; FIU Colleges of Education & Law; Miami Northwestern High School; FIU Office of Engagement; FIU Office of Global Learning; FIU Student Affairs and the Young People’s Project.
Article originally published by FIU College of Education. Read more.
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.
Mohamed Al-Darsani ’12, Army Jag Officer, was recently appointed Military Magistrate. We recently caught up with him to discuss his experience in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps and appointment.
What prompted your interest in the JAG Corps?
The military has always fascinated me. I enlisted in the Army right after high school. I served in the Regular Army, the Florida Army National Guard, and the Army Reserve. My time in the military had its ups and downs, but the Army culture, the people I met and the experiences I had were truly amazing. The time came, however, when I needed to take my life in a different direction. I wanted to be an attorney. The JAG Corps presented me with a unique opportunity to serve my country as a Soldier and officer in the Army and as an attorney. It was a perfect situation for me.
What was the training like?
All new Army JAG officers are put through some initial legal and tactical training. The legal training is conducted at the University of Virginia, which houses The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School (TJAGLCS). Most of the training you receive there is military specific, although the curriculum certainly covers things that are helpful in civilian practice. The tactical skills are taught in the Direct Commission Course at Fort Benning, GA. That course focuses on teaching new JAGs how and what it means to be officers in the Army, as well as some basic combat and soldiering skills (i.e. weapons training, water survival, combative training, etc…). There are other training opportunities for JAG Attorneys. The TJAGLCS offers several continuing education programs, including a fully accredited LLM program. JAGS can also attend military specific schools, such as the Army’s Airborne School or Ranger School.
Tell us what your job as a claims attorney and magistrate?
I am currently assigned to the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate at Fort Benning, GA. My current positions are Tort Claims Attorney and Military Magistrate. As a claims attorney I represent the Army in claims that are filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act or the Military Claims Act. As a military magistrate I make decisions concerning pretrial confinement, and search, seizure and apprehension authorizations. That is just the legal side of being in the JAG Corps. I am also an officer in the United States Army and I have responsibilities outside the practice of law. That, I believe, is what makes being an attorney in the Army so different from civilian practice. It is also what makes my job so exciting. For example, in addition to working my cases as an attorney, back in May I was tasked with coordinating training for a Department of State delegation from the Palestinian Territories. It was a great experience.
How did your experience at FIU Law prepare you for your career?
My experiences at FIU Law set me up for success. The Army is not simply looking for people who know the law, they are looking for good leaders and problem solvers. I feel like FIU Law gave me a chance to develop myself in all of those areas. First and foremost, the legal education I received at FIU was everything I could have asked for. The professors I had were brilliant, and they took their jobs as educators seriously– both in and out of the classroom. Moreover, FIU Law encouraged us to develop ourselves in more ways than simply taking classes. My involvement with student organizations gave me a chance to take on challenging leadership responsibilities. The administration was able to help me get an externship on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where I had a chance to work with some incredible folks and work on some pretty prominent issues. All of that, I feel, set me apart from other applicants and gave me the confidence and experience to do my job well.
What advice do you have for students interested in a similar career path?
My advice to anyone interested in joining the JAG Corps is for them to first learn about the Army. See if this is really what they want. Then make a point to get involved in activities and do things that will highlight their moral character, work ethic and attitude. From what I can tell, there is not one correct path to landing this job. Folks that were accepted in my class came from all walks of life. Some were educated at elite law schools, others were not. Some had prior military experience, most did not. If this is what you want, apply! If you do not get in on the first try, try again.
Alumna Mitzi Bolanos ’08 discusses her LL.M. in Animal Law and fight against breed-specific legislation
Mitzi Bolanos graduated FIU Law in 2008 and decided to pursue her passion for animals in her fight against breed-specific legislation. She recently completed an LL.M. in Animal Law from Lewis & Clark Law School. We caught up with her to discuss her journey.What sparked your interest in Animal Law?
When I was in law school, animal law was still not yet offered in most schools and Student Animal Legal Defense Fund organizations were also not yet common. It wasn’t until several years after law school that I began to explore animal law. Growing up in Miami-Dade County, I was familiar with breed discriminatory legislation, but was unaware of what these laws really meant for families or how much these laws actually hurt a community. It wasn’t until I moved to Washington, D.C. and later to New Orleans, LA that I began volunteering at animal shelters and finally encountered my first pit bull type dogs. At that point, I was able to make my own assessment, and found these dogs to be some of the most loving and gentle creatures I had ever encountered. After adopting a pit bull type dog in New Orleans, I knew I wouldn’t stop until breed discrimination was a thing of the past. During this same time, I was also reading and studying on why these dogs had been singled out and the true causes of dog bites. I was learning about the types of laws that keep communities safe, are cost-efficient, and do not discriminate against responsible owners of loving family dogs. Once Lewis & Clark’s Animal Law LL.M. program became official in 2012, I knew it was exactly where I needed to go.How different is pursuing an LL.M. from pursuing a J.D?
Being immersed in a single and focused area of law for an entire year is very different from the years spent pursuing a J.D., particularly when that area of law is one that you are passionate about. Having only 7 students in the Animal Law LL.M. program, our seminars were personalized and often resulted in deep discussions. Each of us having unique practical experience, we each offered a slightly different perspective and were able to learn a lot from each other. Taking 26 credits of animal law related courses, many of which are seminar style, you begin to think about and question things you never thought of previously. It’s not just a substantive legal experience, but a constant exercise in critical, as well as creative, thinking. Though case law in important in animal law, and we do have plenty, I think there is less time spent on the case law aspect of law school and more time spent on thinking about how we can learn from these cases and how a new angle might lead to a better outcome. There is also a focus on how we can improve our animal laws and how we can help getting others involved in this endeavor.What do you plan to do moving forward?
My main focus is to promote legislation that protects animals and people, keeping our communities safe and our animals healthy and well cared for. I just started a new position as Assistant Executive Director of StubbyDog (www.stubbydog.org), a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to reforming society’s perception of pit bull type dogs as gentle and loving family pets. To accomplish this, we use media, education, and outreach. We also work to end breed discrimination by local governments or private companies (particularly in the housing and insurance industries) and promote breed-neutral laws that focus on the real issues affecting safety, such as reducing or eliminating chaining of dogs, proper socialization and veterinary care, and proper supervision.
How did your experience at FIU Law prepare you for your career?
The fundamental skills offered at FIU go beyond the practice of law in the traditional sense. Every decision, whether legal or not, is guided by the principles of critical thinking that I learned at FIU. The ability to think through a problem, map out a plan, and then execute it was thoroughly taught at our law school. I particularly remember Professor Fingerhut’s trial preparation courses. Those lessons can be applied to a variety of situations beyond an actual legal trial.What advice do you have for students interested in a similar career path?
I think the most important piece of advice that I can give a student interested in animal law is simply to get involved. Become a student member of your local Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee and the ABA TIPS Animal Law Committee, attend CLEs that cover animal law topics (usually free or discounted for students), take on a leadership position in your Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter, attend an animal law conference, and any other event where you can get out and meet animal law practitioners. Animal law is a growing field, but it is still a relatively small community. Get to know this community. Also, spend your summers volunteering or interning at an organization that you believe in, even if the organization does not do much legal work. Every organization needs an attorney on their side, and that could be you! Start building these relationships and networks as early as possible.