Tod Aronovitz, JD '74, Past President of the Law Alumni Association, and former President of The Florida Bar, has made a significant contribution to create The Honorable Sidney M. Aronovitz Scholarship Fund, in honor of his late father. The scholarship, at the University of Miami School of Law, will be awarded each year to recognize student leadership, character, and academic excellence. The recipients will be known as the Judge Aronovitz Scholars.
Tod Aronovitz is a nationally recognized trial lawyer specializing in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases, whose father instilled in him a love of the law and a life of service.
"He was my hero," Aronovitz told The Florida Bar Journal at the time of his election as President of The Florida Bar in 2002. "And I don't have many heroes in my life. He was someone whom everyone respected. He was a great combination: he was a legal scholar, he loved being a judge, and he was a very fair-minded person. And whoever came into his courtroom - if you were an assistant U.S. Attorney, a public defender, a private civil attorney, a litigant, or a juror - you knew you were in a dignified setting, and you knew you were going to get a fair shake."
In 1976, President Gerald Ford nominated Judge Aronovitz to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. He remained on the court until his death in 1997. Notably, he presided over the claim of treasure hunter Mel Fisher to the Spanish galleon, Atocha. Also, during the early days of the debate, Judge Aronovitz ruled that married women did not require consent from their husbands when obtaining an abortion. In 1980, he ordered the release of all of the more than 2,000 vessels seized by the federal government in the aftermath of the Mariel Boatlift.
In 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the naming of the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Key West after Judge Aronovitz, a third generation Key West native. The first Aronovitz, great-grandfather David, immigrated to the bustling port city from Romania in 1889.
Judge Aronovitz assigned then-Dean of UM School of Law, Minnette Massey as Special Master, in several highly complex discovery cases with multiple parties.
"He was such an amazing man," said Professor Massey. "They are a grand family, one of the best in the community. They are the best lawyers and the nicest people and I'm so proud of them."
Aronovitz has maintained his connections with both the law school and his classmates. "When Tod and I first really discussed and were finalizing our plans to start our new law firm, Tod's father was in the process of being selected as a Federal Judge by President Ford," said Andy Leinoff, JD'74. "I knew he was destined for stardom. I was young, but a good judge of character. I knew that Tod would be my partner for as long as he wanted.
"Years later, Tod wanted to run for the President of The Florida Bar and his wife, Leslee, was terminally ill," Leinoff said. "She and others encouraged him to follow his dream. With mixed emotion, he pursued his lifelong dream and ran and succeeded in becoming the President of The Florida Bar. His eyes were the same. Achieving excellence and perfection just like his father. He is his father. I know of no finer attorney or man as Tod Aronovitz."
While many of Aronovitz's cases have set legal precedents in the State of Florida in the fields of defective products cases, medical malpractice issues, aviation negligence, and class action litigation, the 62-year-old even finds the time to teach Professional Responsibility at Miami Law.