Career Corner: Breaking away from the traditional path
Only a few years out of the University of Florida Levin College of Law, Ilan Kaufer (JD 08) is making a name for himself in South Florida.
Kaufer is a principal regulatory affairs analyst for Florida Power and Light (FPL) and serves as the primary liaison between FPL’s regulatory affairs and customer service business units. He is responsible for Florida Public Service Commission activities, testimony development, discovery coordination, logistical support at hearings, and the analysis of state utility commission and legislative proceedings concerning customer service issues, among other tasks.
In addition to his public work at FPL, Kaufer was also recently elected to the Jupiter Town Council and will be serving a three-year term in April.
As one of five town council members, Kaufer will be tasked with setting policy, approving the town’s budget (of approximately $80 million), setting the tax rate, and approving local ordinances.
“My wife and I chose to live in Jupiter for many reasons, including the beautiful beaches and natural areas, top public schools, and the sense of community Jupiter provides. I want to ensure that Jupiter remains a model for other communities, and a town where government works efficiently and cost-effectively to provide exceptional public services,” Kaufer said.
Kaufer is particularly passionate about environmental and energy-related issues, which is apparent through his academic focus. He holds bachelor’s degrees in politics and environmental sciences from the University of Virginia, as well as a master of forest resources and conservation from UF.
“I have always had an interest in environmental policy. I grew up in a coastal community in North Carolina and believe that a community can successfully grow economically while preserving its natural resources,” he said.
Although not a Florida native, Kaufer was attracted to Florida because of UF’s reputation.
“As the most established university in Florida, I knew that UF would provide me with the educational and leadership opportunities I needed to accomplish my professional goals,” he said.
Kaufer enrolled in a joint JD and master degree program at UF in 2005. His experiences for the next three years at UF Law and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences convinced him to stay in the state.
“I loved Florida so much that I never left,” Kaufer said.
At UF Law, Kaufer was involved with various student groups. He was president of the Jewish Law Student Association, an associate justice on the UF Student Supreme Court, cabinet secretary of finance and fees for student government, a member of the executive board of the Law College Council, and a law school student ambassador. Kaufer also currently serves on the Florida Bar’s Committee for Student Education and Admissions to the Bar, which evaluates whether law schools are adequately preparing their students for the practice of law.
Kaufer credits a number of professors in helping him throughout his time at UF Law, including Alyson Flournoy, Michael Seigel, Fletcher Baldwin, and Associate Dean Rachel Inman. He noted that Professor Mary Jane Angelo had a particular impact on his current career path.
“Professor Angelo was a member of my master degree committee and greatly influenced the direction of my law career. Her passion for environmental law and her efforts in assisting me with my dual degree program were invaluable,” he said.
When Kaufer was not busy with extracurricular activities and completing his dual degree requirements, he was a law clerk with Roberts, Reynolds, Bedard, and Tuzzio, and, in his last semester, an intern with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
The decision to intern with a government agency is what Kaufer believes led him to his position at FPL. For students who would like to work in environmental or energy law, Kaufer suggests that straying from a typical job can also lead to a rewarding career.
“Do not be afraid to break away from the traditional law firm path when it comes to clerkships and internships. Taking an internship with FDEP that paid $10 an hour for a 40 hour week is probably the best decision I have made for my career, as it provided me with the experience and contacts which enabled me to get a job with FPL,” he said.
He also stressed the importance of diligent work and professionalism at every step of one’s career. “The best advice I can give current law students is to never burn a bridge. You never know what doors will open in the future, and what people will be able to assist you in walking through those doors if they remember you as a hard-working, professional individual.”