By Roberta O. Roberts (4JM)
From trips to the Florida Supreme Court to providing legal counsel for a hypothetical start-up company, University of Florida Levin College of Law students are exposed to the current practice of the law and lawyers through its adjunct professors. UF Law has roughly 40 adjunct professors practicing in fi elds ranging from tax law to family law, and each adjunct brings a new dimension and perspective of real-world experience to the realm of academia.
Former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Ben F. Overton (JD 52) teaches Florida Constitutional Law and the Florida Supreme Court. Students in Overton’s seminar have the opportunity to produce publishable work, sharpen their advocacy skills, and gain a broader perspective on the legal system.
Students watch oral arguments in front of the Florida Supreme Court, and Overton stresses the increasing importance of mediation.
“All law students need to know mediation,” Overton said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of law. All cases are going to me diation.”
Adjuncts can also provide students with instruction in courses that are not often on a student’s radar.
Judge Cathy M. Sellers says administrative law, for example, often gets ignored. “People are more interested in thinking about what the courts and legislature do,” said Sellers, an administrative law judge. “But, most laws, by far, are administrative agency rules interpreting the statutes. Administrative law is an area that many lawyers — much less citizens — simply aren’t familiar with.”
In Florida Administrative Law, Sellers seeks to educate students about the breadth and depth of Florida administrative law and how it affects every aspect of citizen life.
Corporate finance is another often overlooked subject area in law school. Glenn Sturm (JD 85), an adjunct professor teaching Corporate Finance and Finance Decision Making, said “a lot of law students come out with absolutely no understanding of fi nance. We thought it was important to give them an understanding of the fi nancial aspects of transactions.”
Students analyze business case studies weekly in what Sturm calls a combination of legal, finance and accounting issues.
“I want them to be able to look at a business and understand how to finance it … and how different strategies impact shareholder returns,” Sturm said.
Adjunct professors also provide students with professional development opportunities.
Along with classroom simulation activities for her Adoption Law and Procedures course, Jeanne T. Tate (JD 81), who owns an adoption law fi rm and international adoption agency, provides mentoring for students. Students shadow her at her fi rm, and she assists students with fi nding jobs after graduation.
Saliwanchik, Lloyd & Eisenschenk Shareholders David Saliwanchik and Jeff Lloyd (JD 87) co-teach two seminars: Patent Drafting and Prosecution 1 and 2.
Saliwanchik used his connections in UF’s Warrington College of Business and the College of Engineering to involve UF Law students in the Integrated Technology Ventures program. In the program, a virtual company is created in which engineering students build a prototype, business students develop a business plan, and law students advise the company on intellectual property law.
“Our classes and the ITV program provide opportunities to expose students to things that are not easily addressed in a typical law school class — such as what it is like to work in a private fi rm and on actual IP matters,” Saliwanchik said.
Adjunct professors offer added value to a student’s law school education — from realworld insight to practical experience — but adjunct programming can be successful only if the faculty are on board as well.
“For the adjunct piece to work, it is all about the environment and engagement created by the faculty,” Business Law Adjunct Daniel H. Aronson said. “The law school goes out of its way to provide a welcoming home for adjunct faculty, and clearly Dean (Robert) Jerry and other faculty members are very committed to this.”
Alyson Flournoy, senior associate dean for academic affairs, said adjunct faculty add value to the curriculum.
“We feel very fortunate to have a large number of talented adjuncts whose courses enrich the curriculum,” she said. The current focus is not on hiring additional adjuncts, she said, but on calibrating the selection of offerings each semester to the school’s smaller entering class size. “It’s really an embarrassment of riches.”
And, as the law school’s curriculum improves, so does the caliber of students, Sellers said.
“Every time I teach the course I am very optimistic about the future of The Florida Bar,” Sellers said. “I am very confident that many of them are going to do the profession proud.” A
CROSS SECTION OF ADJUNCTS
UF Law has roughly 40 adjunct professors with deep and broad legal practice experience. Here is a cross section of the teachers who bring the profession into the classroom.
Daniel H. Aronson
Partner and group leader in Berger Singerman LLP’s Corporate and Securities Group in Miami.
Course: Business Transactions and Document Drafting
Justice Ben F. Overton (JD 52)
Overton served as a Florida Supreme Court Justice from 1974 to 1999. From 1976 to 1978, he served as chief justice.
Courses: Florida Constitutional Law and the Florida Supreme Court
Cathy M. Sellers
Sellers became an administrative judge in 2011. She was previously partner in the Tallahassee offi ce of Broad and Cassel and a member of the firm’s Land Use and Environmental Practice Group.
Course: Florida Administrative Law
Glenn Sturm (JD 85)
A partner of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP in the Atlanta office, where he practices corporate law and technology law
Courses: Corporate Finance and Finance Decision Making
Jeanne T. Tate (JD 81)
A board-certifi ed adoption attorney and the managing partner of Jeanne T. Tate, P.A., with offi ces in Tampa, Naples, and Orlando; she also founded Heart of Adoptions, Inc., a licensed child-placement agency
Course: Adoption Law
A shareholder in Saliwanchik, Lloyd & Eisenschenk, a Gainesville-based international intellectual property firm
Courses: Patent Drafting and Prosecution 1 and 2
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