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UF Law ranks No. 5 best law scool for Hispanic students

Hispanic Business coverBy Matt Walker
Senior Writer

The University of Florida Levin College of Law has been ranked as the fifth best law school in the nation for Hispanic students by Hispanic Business magazine. UF Law has been ranked in the top 10 eight times in the past decade.

"It is exciting, but not surprising, that UF is recognized for its firm commitment to diversity, and its success with the Latina/Latino community," said UF Law Professor Berta Hernández-Truyol .

Hernández-Truyol, along with Pedro Malavet, Juan Perea and Daniel Sokol are the full-time Hispanic professors at UF Law, making the college a national leader in the number of tenured and tenure-track Hispanic faculty members. "Many law schools do not have a single Hispanic law professor, and few have more than one," Malavet said. "We have earned our place in the top 10 by developing a strongly diverse community with a strong critical mass of Hispanics at every level of our school."

In 2009, UF Law had 107 Hispanic students enrolled with a 99 percent retention rate for the 2008-2009 academic year, and 42 J.D. degrees were awarded to Hispanic students last year.

UF Law's commitment to leadership and diversity is also evident in its alumni.

Last month, Hispanic-American UF Law graduate Stephen N. Zack became the first Hispanic-American president of the American Bar Association. Zack is the fifth UF Law alumnus to hold the prestigious position. He is also a founding member of the Cuban-American Bar Association, and was the first Hispanic-American president of The Florida Bar.

Zack will deliver the Marshall M. Criser Distinguished Lecture at UF Law next month and will present this fall's Book Awards.

Hispanic Business magazine also looks at Hispanic student organizations, mentorship programs and incentives that might make the school more appealing to Hispanic students.

Hispanic student organizations at UF Law include Latin Law Students Association, Caribbean Law Students Association and International Law Society. The college also offers mentoring opportunities through the Puerto Rican Bar Association and the UF Law Minority Mentoring Program.

"Florida has a strong focus on Latin America, having both summer programs and a joint degree - J.D. and M.A. - with Latin American Studies, allowing students who want to pursue that course of study an excellent opportunity," Hernández-Truyol said.

"The programs and resources create a very welcoming environment for all students, including Latina/o students," she said.

In addition to a strong presence on the faculty, UF Law also employs Latinas/os in administration, including Assistant Dean of Admissions Michelle Adorno and Director of Admissions Noemar Castro, Hernández-Truyol said.