News briefs

UF Law students travel country, world for externships

During the summer of 2010, Fredric G. Levin College of Law students worked in more externships than ever. At least 203 rising 2L and 3L students worked in externships, where they earned course credit in lieu of pay.

Externships, regulated by American Bar Association Standard 305, provide the opportunity for students to assist attorneys and judges with real legal issues and cases. Externs perform legal research, draft memoranda, motions and contracts, and attend client meetings, hearings and trials. Each student is mentored by a field supervisor (an attorney or judge at the externship site) and a UF Law faculty member.

The externship experience enables the student to apply first-hand principles learned in law school, and enhances the learning experience upon return to the classroom. Students meet new attorneys and work side-by-side with experienced attorneys and judges. In some cases, externships
may lead to employment offers after graduation.

Of the more than 200 externship placements this past summer, 75 students worked for judges including 35 in federal courts, nine in state district courts of appeal and two at the Florida Supreme Court. In addition, one student is working this fall as an extern for Judge Gerald B. Tjoflat at the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Some of the externship sites included the EEOC, FCC, NOAA, World Intellectual Property Organization, Department of Homeland Security, ACLU and the Florida Solicitor General. Seventeen students worked as externs for private corporations, including entities such as the Discovery Network, Elizabeth Arden, Office Depot and Sony Corporation.

This summer, students worked on issues such as the Gulf oil spill and drywall litigation, and one student attended a meeting at which the Queen Elizabeth II was present.

Students celebrated for pro bono work and community service

This year’s graduating 3L students had a total of 2,763 hours of community service, compared with 1,038 from last year. They also accrued 9,204 hours of pro bono work, compared with 8,096 from last year. The combined volunteer hours for the class totaled 11,967.

“To dedicate volunteer time beyond your legal curriculum is incredible,” said Kristen Bryant, coordinator of the projects and assistant director for the Center for Career Development.

Christopher First led the class with the most pro bono hours by working with the 12th Circuit Public Defender’s Office. And Penny Taylor-Miller had the most community service hours through her work with Fort White Elementary School and the Girl Scouts.

Dean Robert Jerry commended the students for their accomplishments and for demonstrating leadership qualities.

“One of the traditions at this law school is the preparation of our graduates for leadership positions,” Jerry said. “And by leadership we mean broadly giving back to the community, giving back to the state, the region and serving other people. And what these students have done is demonstrate that, in their lives right now, they are already projecting the professional values that the Gator Nation has celebrated for quite a long time.”

Fellows make a difference with public service

Six UF Law students took part in The Center for Governmental Responsibility Public Interest Law Fellowship program, where they gained handson experience helping low-income people and providing legal expertise to nonprofit groups and government agencies.

The program is a cooperative effort between The Florida Bar Foundation and CGR that began in the mid-1980s. It provides low-income and indigent citizens with valuable legal assistance.

The fellowships are financed by the foundation from Interest on Trust Accounts (IOTA) and more than $700,000 has been provided to help pay for the practical legal education of selected third-year law students.

These students, supervised by licensed attorneys, serve as advocates for the poor and for nonprofit and government agencies such as Florida Institutional Legal Services, Southern Legal Counsel, Three Rivers Legal Services, the state’s Guardian ad Litem program and the 8th Circuit Public Defender’s Office.

Included as part of the students’ nine-month commitment are a required poverty-law course and projects to promote awareness within the law school and greater community about poverty issues and the public interest.

The fellows were: George Eppsteiner (JD 10), Camila Pachon (JD 10), Amber Seay (JD 10), Olga Shraybman (JD 10), Kimberly Thomas (JD 10) and Melissa Welsh (JD 10).