Hispanic Business Ranks UF Law 10th Among Top Law Schools for Hispanic Students

Published: September 8th, 2008

Category: News

Hispanic BusinessHispanic Business recently ranked UF Law as the number 10 law school in the nation for Hispanic students and fifth among public law schools. HispanTelligence, the research arm of Hispanic Business Inc., annually assesses the nation’s top law schools that offer the most to Hispanics and who are at the forefront of recruiting, retaining, and offering quality higher education.

UF Law exemplified the inclusion of diversity measures on campus in the following categories: Hispanic enrollment, Hispanic faculty, Hispanic student services, Hispanic retention rate and Hispanic reputation.

Professors Berta Hernandez-Truyol, Juan Perea and Pedro Malavet and Assistant Professor D. Daniel Sokol make the University of Florida Levin College of Law a national leader in the number of tenured Hispanic faculty members.

“There are many reasons why the Levin College of Law has earned this distinction. For roughly the first fifty years of our almost-centennial history, this was a segregated all-white institution,” said Professor Pedro Malavet. “Virgil Hawkins led the litigation to desegregate our school, George H. Starke, Jr. became our first African-American student on September 15, 1958, W. George Allen our first African-American law graduate in 1962, and the Hon. Stephan Mickle the first African-American undergraduate Gator alumnus in 1965.”

In 2007, more than 10 percent of the student body was Hispanic. The school specifically recruits, supports and mentors Hispanic law students, and the retention rate for Hispanic students in 2006-07 was 100 percent. Student organizations oriented toward this special group include the Spanish American Law Students Association (SALSA), the Hispanic and Latino/a Law Student Association (HLLSA), the Caribbean Law Students Association (Carib-Law), and the International Law Society (ILS).

“We are a much more diverse institution now than we were even when I first joined the faculty in 1995. Back then, I was serving as SALSA faculty advisor when the members, led by President Joaquin Ferrao, asked why the number of Latina/o students had remained at around 5 percent for over a decade in a state in which Hispanics are now the largest group of persons of color,” Malavet said.

The college’s faculty are highly accomplished scholars, educators, and practitioners. Many are authors of treatises, casebooks, or major books used by law schools and practitioners throughout the nation, as well as hundreds of articles in law reviews and specialty journals. UF’s law school also is home to one of the country’s largest concentrations of faculty publishing in Critical Legal Studies, an interdisciplinary approach to the law.

With the creation of the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations in the late 1990s, the UF College of Law emerged on the forefront of Critical Legal Studies and Critical Race Theory, with books by six faculty — Katheryn Russell-Brown, Berta Hernandez-Truyol, Juan Perea, Michelle Jacobs, Nancy Dowd and Pedro Malavet — included in New York University Press’ celebrated Critical America Series, more than any other school. The college also draws on the University of Florida’s curricular strength in other ways, such as by teaming with UF specialists on research and cross-disciplinary training, or by featuring guest presentations by UF experts. Students can take courses in other colleges or earn joint degrees, which the college offers in nearly unsurpassed numbers.

“Many law schools do not have a single Hispanic law professor, and few have more than one. 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,” Malavet said.