Spring 2009 News Briefs

Photo from left: Jonathan Blocker, Guichard St. Surin, Nickisha "Nicki" Webb and Alfredo Zamora

Photo from left: Jonathan Blocker, Guichard St. Surin, Nickisha “Nicki” Webb and Alfredo Zamora

BLSA trial team earns spot in Final Four

The UF BLSA trial team competed in the annual mock trial competition for the Southern Region Black Law Students Association (SRBLSA) Feb. 4-8. Held in Nashville, Tenn., this year’s competition included 25 teams from law schools throughout the southern states. UF’s team successfully argued four trials to earn a spot in the Final Four. The case involved a fraternity hazing session gone awry for one unlucky pledge. Arguing for the state were Jonathan Blocker (3L) and Guichard St. Surin (1L). Nickisha “Nicki” Webb (3L) and Alfredo Zamora (2L) advocated for the defendant, the fraternity president. UF Law students Kailey Evans (3L), Ranaldo Allen (3L), Nicole Mouakar (3L) and Elvis Santiago (3L) assisted the team, alumna and local attorney Majeedah Murad critiqued the team’s legal arguments
and trial techniques, and researchers Brandon Sapp (1L) and Daphne Duplessis (1L) discovered invaluable information on case law. In 2007, UF finished first runner up at the SRBLSA competition. That team subsequently won the national title at the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) mock trial competition a few months later.
Students honored for academic excellence

Students, faculty and friends of the law school gathered in the Chesterfield Smith Ceremonial Classroom Feb. 27 to honor book award recipients for the spring semester. Presented every semester, book awards recognize the top performers in each class, and give alumni a chance to support academic excellence at the UF Levin College of Law. More than 100 students were honored for their performance in classes in the spring. Multiple award winners included Joshua S. Altshuler, Crystal Espinosa, Kevin Hall, Jennifer Hartzler, Heather J. Howdeshell, Kathryn Ward Hurd, David Karp, Allison Riggs, Brandon Sherlinski, Emily A. Snider and Nickisha Webb.

Stepping stone from law school to law firm

Successfully completing a judicial clerkship gives recent law school grads the edge when law firms are looking to hire. That was the message delivered by judicial clerks who were on campus recently to share their professional experiences and perspectives to interested students.

“Nine out of 10 times a law firm will pick the applicant with practical legal experience and you get that working as a judicial clerk,” said Jennifer Deeb (JD 00) who clerks for a senior U.S. District judge in Tampa. “As a clerk, you continue to learn about a variety of legal topics ranging from arraignments to social security appeals. This experience will make you more marketable.”

Amanda Reid-Payne, Ph.D., (JD 04) said the contacts you make during a clerkship can also pay huge dividends later on in your career.

“When you take on a clerkship, you join a ‘family,’ ” said Reid-Payne. “That means forming professional relationships with past clerks who are now serving as attorneys in law firms. The judge will also make sure you are plugged into all the right organizations and associations. It’s a great network.” Congratulations to the following UF Law graduates entering judicial clerkships this year:

• Lorna Cobb, Chief Judge Hugh Lawson, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia;

• Larry Dougherty, Judge Charles R. Wilson, 11th Circuit Court of Appeals;

• Michael Friedman, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul G. Hyman;

• Margaret Hunt, Judge Morales Howard, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida;

• David Karp, Judge Susan Bucklew, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida;

• Sasha Lohn-McDermott, Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida;

• Elizabeth Manno, Judge John Richard Smoak, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida;

• Charles Roberson, Senior Judge Peter T. Fay, 11th Circuit Court of Appeals;

• Dante Trevisani, Senior Judge James L. King, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida;

• Lindsay Saxe, Judge Steven D. Merryday, U.S. District for the Middle District of Florida;

• Ben Williamson, Judge M. Casey Rodgers, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

UF Hero Becomes Comic Book Superhero

Virgil Hawkins, the alter-ego of the popular African-American comic character “Static” in the regular DC Universe is making his first appearance in the new “Terror Titans” miniseries. The comeback was reported in the Philadelphia Daily News in February, which describes the Static character as “a teenage Everyman that readers of all races can relate to, much like Spider-Man. At the same time, he is proud of his heritage.” Static’s alter-ego is named Virgil Hawkins, after the lead plaintiff in the fight to desegregate the University of Florida College of Law.