With recent Miami Law graduates facing several uncertainties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – from the economic downturn to a delayed and unclear Florida Bar exam process – Dean Anthony Varona reached out to the alumni community for support.
"Many of our recent graduates are encountering financial, family, healthcare, and other stressors that will worsen significantly if their employment is delayed, unavailable, or otherwise affected by the uncertainties around the Florida Bar Exam,” Varona shared in an email to Miami Law alumni. In that same communication, the dean encouraged those who had already hired a May 2020 graduate not to delay their start date and he asked others if they had opportunities to please connect with him directly.
And, immediately, alumni responded.
For example, Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos J. Martinez, J.D. ’90, is sponsoring a Temporary Supervised Practice (TSP) program and inviting qualifying law school graduates to volunteer a minimum of 10 weeks at his law office. The program will allow law school graduates who meet specific requirements to temporarily practice law in Florida under the supervision of an approved practitioner.
According to Martinez, TSP volunteers gain “invaluable hands-on experience in preparing and litigating criminal cases in the state judicial system under the supervision of an experienced attorney.”
Brian Kelley, J.D. ’10 and Todd L. Wallen, J.D. ’98, Miami Law alumni and the shareholders of Wallen Kelley, recently hired three Miami Law class of 2020 graduates in response to the appeal.
“Our firm was founded by Canes and we want to see law students from Miami succeed,” Kelley said. “As we’ve been blessed with significant firm growth over the past few months, we felt it only made sense to tap into the potential of UM Law to help us fill the positions. We were blown away by the sheer quality of the applicants and can’t believe that we were able to find such capable attorneys that we’re ready to hit the ground running. I’d strongly recommend bringing in as many of the graduating students as possible – it was absolutely worth our time and I can guarantee we will be doing so in the future as well.”
Jordan A. Shaw, J.D. ’14, a partner of Zebersky Payne Shaw Lewenz, LLP, along with Miami Law alumni Edward H. Zebersky, J.D. ’91, Todd S. Payne, B.A. ’84, J.D. ’89, and Michael T. Lewenz, J.D. ’14, have offered to mentor recent graduates.
“We are a law firm of ‘Canes,” Shaw said. “All four named partners are ‘Canes, two thirds of our associates are ‘Canes, and we currently have two law clerks—both ‘Canes. We have true pride in alma mater, so when our alma mater is in need, we do not hesitate to serve.”