UF Law dedicates Advocacy Center and Education Suite
When UF Law celebrated the dedication of the Martin H. Levin Advocacy Center and the Allen and Teri Levin Advocacy Education Suite March 30, a theme was quickly apparent among the many distinguished guest speakers at the event: the value and importance of advocacy in our society cannot be understated.
The event marked the end of a decade-long transformation period at UF Law, which has brought about many changes to the campus, including the multi-million dollar Advocacy Center, which houses a fully functional modern courtroom, practice areas for trial and moot court teams, two multipurpose courtroom classrooms and UF Law’s Legal Research and Writing Program.
“In this nation we need advocacy because we need the rule of law and we need trials because we must have justice,” said UF President Bernie Machen, who attended to accept the Advocacy Center on behalf of the University of Florida. “The courtroom advocacy skills of the attorneys are thus at the very center of our civil society and the democratic system of government.”
The Advocacy Center benefits many different groups at UF Law in various ways and guest speakers expressed excitement and gratitude to the Levin family during the ceremony, which included Fredric Levin, his son Martin H. Levin and his sister-in-law Teri Levin, the wife of Fredric’s late brother Allen Levin.
“It isn’t often during these three years that we can suspend reality, step out of the role of a student and into the role of an attorney, but facilities like this allow that,” said UF Law Trial Team President Tara Tedrow (3L). “And not only have we sat in this building and learned from the best, but most importantly we have learned how to be the best at our craft.”
Other speakers included UF Law Dean Robert Jerry; Legal Research, Writing and Appellate Advocacy Director Henry Wihnyk; Director of Communications Debra Amirin; Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Alyson Flournoy; UF Board of Trustees Chairman Carlos Alfonso and Trial Team Director and Legal Skills Professor Jennifer Zedalis, via taped message.
Finally, Martin H. Levin and Teri Levin offered heartfelt reflections on the University of Florida, their connections to UF Law and the late Allen Levin, whose name graces the Advocacy Education Suite.
Martin Levin said that although his uncle was not a lawyer he was a strong believer in justice and equality – that individuals should be judged on who they are and what they have done. Allen Levin believed, “the only way that could be accomplished is through the efforts of advocates, people who are willing to stand up and speak out even when their own individual may be in harm or become endangered because of it.”
Teri Levin expressed gratitude for the appreciation of her contribution to the Advocacy Center and she offered insight into her late husband’s personality.
“He was a man of integrity, compassion, tolerance. And he was an example of what he believed in, he was a loyal man, a man of his word, a mentor to all who knew him and respected and loved by all who knew him,” Teri Levin said. “He was an advocate all of his life; to honor him with this donation and dedication is the least that I can do.”
The 19,500 square-foot Martin H. Levin Advocacy Center earned the gold LEED rating for its energy efficient and environmentally friendly design. The rating is based on features such as the use of low-flow faucets, waterless urinals, reflective building materials and designs to optimize energy performance. According to the March 14, 2011, LEED report, 1.5 tons of construction waste water was diverted from landfills during the building’s construction and potable water use has been reduced by 55 percent from fittings and fixtures. Energy efficiency measures include high efficiency glazing, reduced interior lighting power density, occupancy sensors and a district chilled water system. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Rating System was designed by the U.S. Green Building Council to encourage more environmentally sustainable buildings.
Architect Sol J. Fleischman Jr., A.I.A., CEO of Tampa-based FleischmanGarcia, said the courtroom is geared to its teaching function through monitors, data, phone and Internet connections, and especially the tiered seating giving students a clear view of the proceedings. The cherry-paneled walls and leather chairs give it the stately grace appropriate for Florida’s flagship law school.