Miami Law has made significant strides during the 2010-2011 academic year. In many areas, faculty have raised the bar, and likewise the students have done all they can do to not only meet that standard, but also surpass it.
In the fall, all eyes were on Legal Communication and Research Skills (LComm), the new intensive writing and research course which is mandatory for all first year law students. LComm focuses on getting students practice-ready by emphasizing an organized and disciplined approach to legal research, analysis, writing, and other forms of communication.
Then, the news about Legal Corps, a paid fellowship geared toward filling the gap between public interest organizations and recent law graduates who need work – hit the stands.
Miami Law also kicked off LawWithoutWalls™, a collaborative academic model, spearheaded by Professor Michele DeStefano Beardslee and Michael Bossone at the University of Miami School of Law, that brought together practitioners, entrepreneurs and students and faculty from six law schools around the world to innovate legal education and practice.
It was also an honor when Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens visited Miami Law to speak with students and faculty about his tenure as an Associate Justice.
Here is a look at the many accomplishments made by Miami Law students, faculty, and alumni this year.
Wrongful Convictions: Miami Law students Keon Hardemon and Paul Petrequin assisted a defense team in avoiding a death sentence for Grady Nelson, 53, in a Miami courtroom. After only an hour of deliberation, jurors sided with Nelson's defense team that included defense attorneys Terry Lenamon, David S. Markus and student supervisor and Assistant Professor Sarah Mourer, who entered the case pro bono as co-counsel. Instead of death, the jury recommended a life sentence.
Moot Court: Miami Law students Tess deLiefde (2L), Andrew Riccio (3L) and Beshoy Rizk (3L) were named the winners of the Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot Court competition, the prestigious international student competition focusing on investment protection. The competition was hosted by Goethe-University Frankfurt in Germany. They were coached by Daniel Vielleville.
Second-year law student Gracia Cuzzi was awarded a prestigious scholarship from the Florida Association for Women Lawyers in recognition of her service to the community.
Miami Law alumnus Marco Rubio, JD '96, became the first UM alumnus and the second Cuban-American from Florida to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
Miami Law alumnus Reince Priebus, JD '98, is the newly elected Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC). The University of Miami School of Law graduate received the news on at the RNC Committee Winter Meeting in Oxon Hill, MD.
Internet law expert Professor A. Michael Froomkin was awarded the Laurie Silvers and Mitchell Rubenstein Endowed Distinguished Professorship.
Miami Law Professor Kele Stewart was awarded a prestigious Fulbright award – an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. State Department. Professor Stewart, who co-directs the University of Miami Children & Youth Law Clinic, will spend one year in Trinidad and Tobago conducting research and establishing a child advocacy clinic.
Visiting Professor David Nimmer recognized Miami Law as the first and only school to introduce an interdisciplinary J.D/M.M. degree, which provides students with an avenue to understand the legal side of the music industry. "I'm grateful the Dean recognized the need right from the get-go to add special avenues of education, and was delighted to be part of the faculty."
Miami Law led the way with the launch of its triple degree program. The J.D./LL.M./M.B.A. combines legal and business degrees to students who were undergraduate business majors. These credentials are ideal for anyone with a long-term goal of servicing top corporate clients or becoming a senior executive at a bank, real estate company, or financial institution.
A new joint degree was created this year between the School of Law and the School of Communications. The joint J.D. and M.A. in Communications degree provides a powerful background in law and communications and can help jumpstart a career in law, business, entertainment or government.
Miami Law also launched a unique interdisciplinary course – The Idea of the Hospital – this spring that spanned eight distinct disciplines and schools across the University of Miami. This first of its kind course gave students an exclusive opportunity to study the multiple perspectives from which we view, think, and work in hospitals.
This year, Miami Law launched its first ever Human Rights Clinic, which made great strides this year. It hosted the first annual Gender Justice of the Americas Conference this winter. The two-day meeting, organized by Miami Law, focused on revitalizing and challenging the transnational dialogue regarding sexuality, violence, reproductive and human rights. This unique event included leading scholars and advocates from over 20 countries in North, South, Central America and the Caribbean.
The Human Rights Clinic, Immigration Clinic, along with Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) joined the growing number of voices urging the United States to halt the deportation of Haitians from the United States. In response to an emergency petition for precautionary measures filed by Miami Law's Immigration and Human Rights Clinics and co-counsel on behalf of detained Haitian nationals who face imminent deportation, the IACHR announced that it was summoning the U.S. to halt the petitioners' deportations.
Additionally, Miami Law's Immigration Clinic recently won a life-changing victory for their client, a gay man who feared returning to his home country of Jamaica, a country known for its intolerance of gay people. Students Rita Kapadia, JD '10 and current third-year student Kristen Lee-Williams represented the client in immigration court at the Krome detention center. This success follows in the wake of a spring 2010 case in which Immigration Clinic students Gisela Ades, JD '10 and 3L Randi Nagahori were able to stop the deportation of their client to Kenya – a country in which it is illegal to perform gay sex acts.
Students from the Health & Elder Law Clinic won more than $150,000 in Social Security back payments as well as ongoing monthly income on behalf of their disabled clients who were repeatedly denied life sustaining benefits – the outcome for some clients has taken years.
Students from the Community Lawyering Clinic went door-to-door in the West Grove community alerting residents of their rights when facing foreclosure.