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.