Third-year law student Eli Bilek was honored last week by the Rosemary Barkett Appellate American Inn of Court for being the first student to argue a pro bono appeal for the Inn. Justice Barkett presented a certificate to Bilek who argued last month in front of the Third District Court of Appeal in an employment compensation case.
"It was my privilege to have the experience and I am very grateful to Judge Barkett, Judge Salter, and everyone else involved with the Inn who helped make it happen," said Bilek regarding his award. "The whole thing felt backwards – it was I who is grateful for the opportunity and owe thanks to them."
Under the supervision of attorney Erik Scharf and Jose Fons from the Legal Services of Greater Miami, Bilek screened potential cases, reviewed the record, drafted appellate briefs and motions, and argued the appeal in court.
"Arguing the appeal was a little nerve-wracking, but because I had previously interned at the Third DCA, watched dozens of arguments, and had conversations with the judges in the past, it made the experience easier," said Bilek. While Bilek did not win his appeal, he did get his name on the decision, a footnote expressing appreciation, and a lengthy concurring opinion.
The American Inns of Court, America's oldest, largest and fastest growing legal mentoring organization is firmly rooted in the noble 800-year-old tradition of the Inns of Court in England. For over twenty years, American Inns of Court have provided judges, lawyers, and law students an opportunity to participate actively in developing a deeper sense of professionalism, achieving higher levels of excellence and furthering the practice of law with dignity and integrity.
The members of the Rosemary Barkett Appellate Inn of Court specialize in appellate practice and provide an opportunity to mentor less-experienced attorneys and law students.