In 2002, the 67 men and women of FIU’s College of Law’s inaugural class took a risk when they enrolled in a brand new law school. A school that shared space in the University’s library and hadn’t yet accredited been accredited by the American Bar Association.
But, their risk paid off.
“I count myself lucky to have been a part of FIU Law’s inaugural class,” said Christine Lopez. “I had complete confidence that I would be prepared to pass the bar and be practice ready. FIU Law provided me with all of that and more.”
On May 28, 2014, FIU Law graduated its 10th class marking a milestone achievement in the still relatively new law school and offering the opportunity to reflect on how far it has come.
The vision to start a public law school in South Florida began 25 years ago. Cesar Alvarez of Greenberg Traurig, LLP along with community leaders and supporters approached former Governor Jeb Bush with an idea: to educate a different kind of lawyer. The plan was to provide South Florida’s diverse population with an opportunity to obtain an affordable, first-rate legal education. With the help of countless lawmakers and University leaders, Founding Dean Leonard Strickman and a group of accomplished, committed academic turned to the vision into a reality.
In 2005, FIU Law held its inaugural commencement and in 2013 graduated its 1,000th alumni. Today FIU Law is ranked #100 by U.S. News & World Report and continues to be spotlighted for its achievements.
Student Bar Association President and recent graduate, Alisha Mays, is proud to be a part of the 10th graduation class.
“To be a part of this milestone class is exciting, because I see where we have been, but I also know that the future is bright,” she commented. “Our school will continue to grow and flourish, and I am excited to watch the story continue. I’ve heard stories about how FIU Law started, with classes being in the Green Library. But now, you wouldn’t even think we are as young of a school as we are. We attract some of the top students and professors to our school, and our alumni are out practicing and representing us so well. My time as a student at FIU Law may be coming to an end, but it’s really just the beginning, and the legacy of FIU Law will continue. I am proud of our class and all of our accomplishments, and I truly look forward to seeing what we continue to do once we graduate.”
From humble beginnings, FIU Law has quickly become a highly-respected institution with its own unique values and traditions and continues to flourish under the leadership of current Dean R. Alexander Acosta.
The strength of FIU Law’s alumni is felt throughout the legal profession. Graduates have accepted 26 state appellate or federal clerkships since 2009 including six at the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals; more than 90 are employed as assistant state attorneys, public defenders, or in county attorney offices; five have become Presidential Management Fellows; and more than20 have been named Rising Stars by Super Lawyers.
“We have come a long way in a short time,” Dean Acosta shared. “FIU Law continues to add to its list of recognitions: student quality, graduate success, faculty productivity and diversity.”