Judge Jose E. Martinez of the U.S. District Court, at right, with students. (Photo: Emily Horowitz/Miami Law)
Most days at around 7 a.m., the Miami Law campus is deserted. But on a Wednesday morning earlier this month, about 40 students could be seen on the Bricks, occasionally glancing at their watches. They were waiting for the Law Library's glass doors to swing open to admit them for a breakfast with six prominent South Florida judges.
The repast, titled "Breakfast with Barristers: Judicial Pathways," was part of Miami Law's UNetworking series, one of several opportunities that the law school provides to students who are interested in interning for judges over the summer, clerking for judges after graduating, or becoming a judge themselves one day.
Students had a chance to talk with Judges Jose E. Martinez and Alicia M. Otazo-Reyes of the U.S. District Court; Judges Frank A. Shepherd and Juan Ramirez (Ret.) of the Third District Court of Appeal; and Judges Gill S. Freeman and Bronwyn Miller of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court, who generously gave their time for the two-hour breakfast. In all but one case, their workday had yet to begin.
"Breakfast with the Barristers was a wonderful experience," first-year student Marlene M. Palomo said. "I was able to speak with judges in a more casual manner while attaining a deeper understanding of the judiciary."
Amy Perez, the law school's Director of Judicial Clerkships, worked closely with the Post-Graduate Student Service Fellows and student leaders to plan the breakfast.
When asked about the experience, Richard Rosengarten, 3L, said it had been a "great opportunity" to speak with former and current federal and state judges. "It seems they are people too, who like their good coffee and humor," Rosengarten said.
"They were even willing to take a résumé from those students who were willing to wake up early enough in the morning to attend."
The breakfast, sponsored by the Law Activity Fee Allocation Committee and organized by the Post-Graduate Student Service Fellows, was the first of three UNetworking events taking place in the Spring 2013 semester. The UNetworking series has gained popularity among Miami Law students, and there are waiting lists for each session.
When asked why he had attended Breakfast with Barristers, first-year student Andy Zarnosa said that at such events, "You are able to find out information that allows you to get a leg up on the competition."
Joseph Matthews, 2L, was effusive. "I was beyond impressed with how receptive, genuine and kind the judges were," he wrote in an email. "It is events like this one which make me understand why UM is worthwhile. I arrived to the sweet smell of French toast and departed with a contact and an opportunity. It was a great event."
The next two UNetworking events will take place on March 26th and April 2nd. The events are free to law students on a first-register, first-served basis. For more information and to register, please visit www.law.miami.edu/unetwork.