The legal community came together Sept. 29 to celebrate 10 years of FIU Law. In the process, nearly $1 million was raised for fellowships and scholarships, ensuring that the college’s promise to educate a unique type of lawyer will be kept for generations.
“Miami opens its doors to all individuals with the will and the heart to seek and achieve success. FIU Law will do the same,” said College of Law Dean Alexander Acosta, addressing more than 400 law students, lawyers, judges, alumni, faculty and university leaders who gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel Miami. “There is something special about the FIU Law student. They do not believe in limits. They charge forward with the attitude that with hard work and an excellent education nothing is beyond their grasp. This is the attitude that makes FIU Law and FIU Law graduates distinct.”
The Judge Aaron B. Cohen Foundation, law firms and individuals contributed to the $918,000 fundraising effort. Net proceeds will directly benefit law students by providing summer stipends and by funding scholarships for first generation students.
Law students mingled with founding faculty members, university leaders, alumni, lawyers, and judges from the state and federal bench at a cocktail reception that was followed by a seated dinner in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, which was awash in blue and gold lighting for the occasion.
FIU Law alumnus Willard Shepard, a three-time Emmy award winning journalist, served as emcee for the evening.
One of the evening’s highlights was a video about FIU Law’s history as told by the college’s visionaries and founding leaders. The video included commentary by President Emeritus Modesto A. Maidique, President Mark B. Rosenberg, Founding Dean Leonard Strickman and current Dean R. Alexander Acosta.
Rosenberg recognized community contributors and supporters who helped build FIU Law, including Mario Diaz-Balart, the entire Diaz-Balart family and Maidique. Through their persistence, determination and political brilliance, they turned a vision into reality, he said.
“We made it clear to those who would listen, we would keep coming back until we got what we wanted for our community,” said Rosenberg. “Our vision was to educate a new multi-cultural generation of attorneys, who would commit to helping the people of South Florida solve legal issues that affect their lives.”
Alumna Brenda Kuhns Neuman was a beneficiary of that vision.
“I chose to enroll at FIU College of Law before it was accredited and graduated in its second class in 2006. At the time this seemed adventurous and maybe even a bit risky,” said Neuman, an assistant Miami-Dade County attorney. “But at the celebration, I listened to the founders speak about their efforts to get a public law school approved in South Florida and how this law school is essential to ensuring freedom and equality in our community. I feel so proud to be part of that noble beginning. I have no regrets.”