By Matt Walker
Senior writer/Assistant magazine editor
President of The Florida Bar Scott Hawkins (JD 83) let UF Law students in on a secret.
"I have a confession," Hawkins said as he stepped to the lectern in the Martin H. Levin Advocacy Center courtroom. "I didn't like to go to law school, but I love being a lawyer; I really, really love it."
Hawkins spoke Nov. 8 on what it means to be a lawyer and offered advice for law students after they graduate. The event was presented by the UF Chapter of The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, Law Student Division.
Hawkins explained that as he progressed through law school, he began to appreciate the experience when he realized that being a law student was about more than just acquiring knowledge from textbooks.
"Law school is a lot more than knowledge; (in) law school you're learning how to solve problems and learning how to work with language and different rules within different disciplines to solve problems that will be entrusted to you when you become a lawyer," Hawkins told the near-capacity crowd.
He also emphasized the value of the opportunity to attend law school and to become a lawyer.
"To be a lawyer in America is one of the most important privileges that you could ever have," Hawkins said.
And while the privilege comes with benefits, it also comes with certain obligations, he said. People will expect lawyers to live up to certain expectations regarding their behavior, character and ethics.
Hawkins also stated the importance of remembering to give back so others can have the same opportunities.
"I hope for those of you who do particularly well, that you will invest back into the law school, and I hope you'll be thinking about that today," he said, "because the privilege is being given to you now to go off and serve others and serve communities in the coming years in a way that you could not do without the juris doctor."
Hawkins went on to offer advice for starting out in the legal profession, saying that a lawyer's reputation starts right now in law school.
"How you're remembered by your class will be carried on for the rest of your career," he said, mentioning how he still remembers what his former classmates were like for better and worse in law school.
"I stress three Cs when I'm talking to young lawyers: You want to be a person of character, you want to be competent, you want to be committed," Hawkins said. "If you put those values at the forefront of your mind as you're starting out, it will serve you well."
Hawkins closed by urging law students to begin considering becoming certified by The Florida Bar. He said it takes a lot of focus and discipline to become certified, but it benefits lawyers throughout their career.
"It's a very tough standard but it's a very worthwhile goal."
The event was made possible by The Florida Bar YLD Law Student Division, which is comprised of law students around the state. The division works on creating a smooth transition between law school and practicing law. The group works with The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, local bar associations and practicing lawyers to provide opportunities for networking, mentoring, legal education and community service opportunities for members.
UF representatives of The Florida Bar YLD Law Student Division include Ryan Gilbert (2L), Margaret Good (3L), Allie Menegakis (2L and division secretary) and Laura Thayer (3L).