UF Law students’ article published in Federal Lawyer magazine

Published: February 24th, 2014

Category: News

UF Law students Marla Spector (2L) and Dustin Mauser-Claassen (2L) wrote an article that was published in the national Federal Lawyer magazine. The article as published is below:

The North Central Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association Honors

North Central Florida’s Newest Federal Judges

By: Dustin Mauser-Claassen and Marla Spector, UF Law Student Representatives

On September 16, 2013, the North Central Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (“FBA”) successfully hosted their annual meeting and a reception honoring the newest members of the federal bench.  The reception was held at the historic Hippodrome Theatre in downtown Gainesville.  Taking part in the festivities were over 100 attendees, including distinguished federal and state court judges, local practitioners, and students from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

The reception celebrated the region’s newly appointed federal judges.  Dean Robert Jerry of the UF Law School kicked off the event by thanking the FBA for its efforts to engage the law school in federal practice.  Next, President-Elect, Ron Kozlowski, announced the honorees which included: Mark E. Walker, United States District Judge, Northern District of Florida; Karen K. Specie, Chief United States Bankruptcy Judge, Northern District of Florida; Gary R. Jones, United States Magistrate Judge, Northern District of Florida, Gainesville Division; and Philip R. Lammens, United States Magistrate Judge, Middle District of Florida, Ocala Division. The region is truly fortunate to have such accomplished and well-respected individuals serving us on the bench.

District Court Judge Mark E. Walker is a double Gator, receiving both his undergraduate and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida.  Judge Walker’s judicial experience includes clerking for Judge Emmett Ripley Cox of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Justice Stephen H. Grimes of the Florida Supreme Court, and Judge Robert Lewis Hinkle of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. After clerking, Judge Walker spent several years as an Assistant Public Defender for Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit and worked in private practice for a decade.  In 2009, Judge Walker took the bench as a Florida Circuit Judge in Tallahassee before being appointed to the Federal bench by President Obama in 2012. Furthermore, it is no small accomplishment that in today’s political climate Judge Walkers’s nomination was confirmed by a unanimous 94-0 vote of approval from the United States Senate.

Judge Karen K. Specie earned her Juris Doctor at Florida State University and subsequently entered private practice in both New York and Tampa.  After moving to Gainesville, Judge Specie represented business and individual debtors and served as a Chapter 7 panel trustee for the Northern District of Florida Bankruptcy Court for five years.  In addition to re-entering private practice in 2011, she has served as an adjunct professor at UF Law for the past four years teaching courses in bankruptcy law and secured transactions.  Judge Specie plans to continue teaching a bankruptcy seminar each spring at UF Law during her tenure in the Bankruptcy Court.

Magistrate Judge Gary R. Jones graduated with his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami and earned his LL.M in International Law from New York University. Judge Jones has practiced commercial litigation in Florida for eighteen years. He achieved partner status in a large firm and was a named partner in a small commercial litigation firm in Miami before taking the bench as a Magistrate Judge in the Middle District in 2000.  Further, he was the first Magistrate Judge to be appointed to the Financial Disclosure Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States.  After ten years of serving as a Magistrate Judge in the Middle District, Judge Jones was appointed as a Magistrate Judge in the Northern District of Florida.

Magistrate Judge Philip R. Lammens is a double Gator, earning both an undergraduate degree and a Juris Doctor at the University of Florida.  Judge Lammens’ prior experience includes clerking for Judge William Terrell Hodges in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Florida and Judge Joel F. Dubina in the Eleventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.  Before his appointment, Judge Lammens worked in the Torts Branch of the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, was an Assistant General Counsel for the City of Jacksonville, and an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Middle District of Florida.

The reception was a great opportunity for the local legal community to mix and mingle while getting better acquainted with the newly appointed judges outside of the courtroom.  Many young members of the legal community from the UF Law school also took advantage of this opportunity by introducing themselves to members of the Federal Bar and other distinguished members of the legal community.

Judge Lammens remarked, “The FBA event was a wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with lawyers and local judges from our North Florida community.”  The meeting also allowed some of the newly appointed judges to meet each other for the first time while connecting with old friends.  Judge Lammens said, “It was also a great opportunity for me to meet U.S. District Judge Walker and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Specie.  I hadn’t met them prior to the event and I was delighted to have some time to speak with both of them.  And, of course, it is always nice to have a chance to talk with U.S. Magistrate Judge Jones, who I have known for several years.”

Throughout the reception, many of the honored judges spoke about goals they have set for themselves during their tenure and expressed a deep commitment to the community.  Judge Walker paid homage to the Gainesville bar stating that “I work in all four divisions” of the Northern District “and I find the highest quality of advocacy in Gainesville making it a pleasure to work there.”  In addition, Judge Walker expressed his dedication to the region by vowing to conduct himself “in the tradition of Judge Paul and Judge Mickle” and recognized that he has “big shoes to fill.”  Judge Lammens expressed that he was particularly glad to see practitioners from Ocala and further discussed that he hopes that “. . . more local lawyers will handle the federal cases pending in the Ocala Division.”  All of the Judges expressed grate gratitude to the FBA for hosting this event.

To close out the evening, the FBA held its Annual Meeting to elect its officers and general board members.  The FBA thanks everyone for their attendance at the annual meeting and reception, and welcomes the region’s newly appointed federal judges.