Twenty-seven of the best and brightest potential first-year students arrived last week for an in-depth, four-day look at Miami Law. The Scholarship Conference, organized to help entice the students to the school, kicked off at a sunset gathering at Monty's Raw Bar in Coconut Grove and then adjourned to the School of Law the following morning.
Dean Patricia D. White welcomed the scholars, who came from as far away as Panama. Dean White spoke of the opportunities available in an international city such as Miami and extolled the virtues of two top-notch offerings, the triple-degree JD/MBA/LLM in taxation and the innovative program LawWithoutWalls.
"I think the law school unquestionably is going big places," said Nicholas Sincere, a student at Ohio State University and 2010 winner of the PricewaterhouseCoopers xTax Case Competition and the Ernst & Young Your World, Your Vision Case Competition. "Everyone here is very dedicated to the advancement of the students, the law school and the community. And you cannot beat the weather."
Professor Mary Anne Franks led a lively discussion with the students on the subject of Texas v. Johnson, the landmark 1989 Supreme Court decision that determined flag burning to be protected speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Later, the scholars heard from Professor Caroline Bettinger-López, Director of Miami Law's Human Rights Clinic, and Teresa Verges, Director of the Investor Rights Clinic, and alumnus Keon Hardemon, J.D.'10, an attorney with the Miami-Dade Pubic Defender's Office. The three spoke about effective skill development and the hands-on experience that Miami Law students gain by participating in the school's clinics and programs.
"I'm overwhelmed by the excitement of everyone here," said Shaina Lamchick, a summa cum laude from George Washington University with a B.A. in Political Science, Women's Studies and Sociology. "It seems like a very welcoming environment."
On Saturday morning, the scholars traveled to the law firm of Greenberg, Traurig for a day of presentations. The speakers included Marni Lennon, Assistant Dean for Public Interest and Pro Bono; Myles Cochran, Director of Public Interest and Pro Bono Programs; Jaret Davis, J.D. '99, a co-managing partner at Greenberg, Traurig and a Soia Mentschikoff Scholar; Professor Laurence Rose, Director of the Litigation Skills Program; Professor Michele DeStefano, co-founder of LawWithoutWalls; and Gretchen Bellamy, Director of International Public Interest Programs.
"We are so proud of the array of opportunities at Miami Law for students to learn and grow through our exceptional clinics and public interest programs," said Lennon. "Scholarship students were riveted to the presentation by these exceptional lawyers."
"It is our privilege to bring together these amazing individual from across the world for our Scholarship Conference," Cochran said. "We are excited for this wonderful opportunity to introduce prospective Miami Scholars to one another and to the Miami Law community."
Many in the group spent Saturday afternoon learning about the Historic Black Church Project on a walking tour of West Grove with community leader Pierre Sands. The scholars who participated said that it was the high point of their weekend because they had a chance to learn about the outside-the-classroom work students do through Miami Law and the relationship they have with the community.
"The chance to experience the Miami law community and the dynamic in which we get to spend our legal education is unique to scholarship weekend," said Danny Hanlon, 2L, who volunteered to accompany the scholarship candidates in West Grove. "It provides an invaluable insight into the law school culture."