Center for Professionalism: Law School Report St. Thomas University 07
St. Thomas University School Of Law
2007 Report To The Florida Bar Committee On Professionalism Activities
A commitment to professionalism and service infuses every part of the curriculum and service activities at our law school.
St. Thomas University Center for Professionalism.
Effective August 1, 2006, St. Thomas University School of Law appointed Judge David L. Levy, the recently retired former Chief Judge of the Third District Court of Appeal, to fill the newly-created Administrative position of “Director of Professionalism”. Prior to his retirement, Judge Levy served as a Judge in the State of Florida for more than 28 years in both the Trial and Appellate Courts of the State. In addition to his service as a distinguished jurist, Judge Levy has served as a highly respected and eminent Professor of Law, an active member of law-related professional associations and commissions, a prominent and committed participant in numerous significant civic activities, the recipient of literally dozens of awards for outstanding service to education, to the public and to the bar and bench.
Judge Levy, in his role as the Law School’s Director of the Center for Professionalism, in addition to covering the ethical nuances of the practice of law, focuses upon highlighting the “attitude” of being a “Professional” … how to think and act in a professional manner.
A major tool used to demonstrate to the students what is expected of them in this regard is the exposure of the students to many of the fine, and very professional attorneys in the State who have come on campus to discuss with the students how an attorney can be both professional and successful without compromising ethical principles.
Community Outreach and Pro Bono Program
St. Thomas University School of Law is proud of its Community Outreach and Pro Bono Program. We believe that dispensing justice is one of the strongest callings of the law and legal profession. At St. Thomas University School of Law all students have an opportunity, indeed a commitment, to learn more about representing the interest of the disenfranchised, the under-represented, the non-profit, and the government sector through their pro bono commitments. These commitments reflect our mission to social justice by preparing our students to use their professional and personal lives to promote the dignity of every individual.
- A. St. Thomas University School of Law Requirements of Pro Bono Service. In furtherance of the Law School’s mission to provide service to the community, the faculty has adopted and established a mandatory Pro Bono program for both faculty and students. Faculty members must complete 20 hours of Pro Bono work annually as part of their service to the profession and students must complete 40 hours of Pro Bono work during their last two years of law school as a requirement for graduation. Up to 20 of the 40 Pro Bono hours required of students can qualify with the performance of community-based public service that does not necessarily constitute direct legal work.
B. Director of Pro Bono Services. Assistant Dean John Hernandez serves as the Director of Pro Bono Services. He coordinates the student services portion of the program, overseeing the maintenance of student records for pro bono hours performed and a variety of sites where students can fulfill their pro bono requirement. Dean Hernandez has been affiliated with St. Thomas University School of Law for over 15 years. He has been a full-time faculty member as well as an administrator. He served as the St. Thomas University School of Law Representative to the Board of Directors of Legal Services of Greater Miami for several years. He also previously served as a public defender in Monroe County, Florida.
C. Pro Bono Opportunity through St. Thomas University School of Law. The Law School has 37 authorized community-based legal service organizations available to students for Pro Bono work. The program recognizes the moral obligation to assist those in need. It gives second and third-year students’ legal experience under the supervision of lawyers in a variety of non-profit legal services organizations, government agencies, law firms and alumni practitioners.
D. Essential Parameters of St. Thomas University School of Law‘s Pro Bono Program. The essential parameters are:
- Forty (40) hours of Pro Bono services required to be completed during the second and third year of law school.
Community-Based Legal Service work can be performed in conjunction with an individual lawyer, law firm or recognized organization on behalf of the public in which the student and the law firm do not receive compensation.
- Up to 20 hours of Pro Bono services may be performed at any recognized Community-Based Public Services organization, hospital, charity or religious house of worship.
Community Legal Organization Participating in St. Thomas University School of Law Pro Bono Program. The most popular Community Legal Service Organizations include:
- Broward County State Attorney and Public Defender Offices
Broward County Legal Services
Office of the Attorney General, Children’s Legal Services
Broward County Guardian Ad Litem Program
Miami-Dade County State Attorney and Public Defender Offices
Miami-Dade County Legal Aid Office of “Put Something Back”
Greater Miami Legal Services
Judicial Internships in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties
- Clinical Studies Linked to Public Sector Lawyering. Clinical credit is only available to law students for legal services in the public sector. St. Thomas University School of Law ‘ in-house clinics: the Immigration Clinic and the Tax Clinic and all externship clinical placements (including Appellate Litigation, Bankruptcy, Civil Practice, Criminal Practice, and Family Court programs) are also exclusively devoted to public service in that they only serve low income, indigent clients or governmental agencies. These opportunities also allow our students to explore the ethical issues that arise in the practice of law. As stated in the Clinical Handbook, this permits the student interns to “gain first-hand insight into the strategic and ethical dimensions of the profession …”.
On Campus Community Legal Service Clinics. These include:
- VITA – which provides volunteer tax assistance to the community
St. Thomas University Human Rights Institute
- Broward County High Schools and National Forensic League Debates
Miami-Dade County High School Mock Trial Program
Community Service and Charitable Organizations Participating in St. Thomas University School of Law’s Pro Bono Program. These include:
- Catholic Charities
Hurricane Relief Organizations
Light the Night Walk for Leukemia Foundation
Domestic Violence Walk for Broward County Women in Distress
Susan Komen Breast Cancer Walk
Minority Mentor Picnic
- Habitat for Humanity
- Judge Atkins’ Chambers Project
Young Lawyers’ Section of the Florida Bar Disaster Hotline Assistance.
- St. Thomas University School of Law’s mission statement encourages students “to examine their own personal values and, in the finest tradition of professionalism, to dedicate their professional life to the service of others”. Indeed, the importance of professionalism is integrated into our orientation program for entering students.
St. Thomas University School of Law’s curriculum not only contains the required upper level courses in Professional Responsibility but also offers courses directly aimed at impacting upon the ethical and moral duties of counsel. In addition to the required Professional Responsibility course, for example, we offer a seminar course on Moral Dilemmas in the Law, which examines “several of the more elusive ethical and moral dilemmas confronted in the practice of law …”
IV. Distinguished Speaker Series at St. Thomas University School of Law.
The Distinguished Speaker Series for 2007-2008 features scholars, activists, jurists and lawyers who have distinguished professionalism credentials and who have brought professionalism standards into play in their particular areas: The Honorable Rosemary Barkett, Judge 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, first woman Justice on the Florida Supreme Court and Chief Justice, speech entitled “Thomas: The Doubter, The Rebel, the Thinker, the Giver-Where Are You Today?”; Stanley Tate, Chairman Tate Enterprises, renowned civic leader and philanthropist, speech entitled “Déjà vu: The Resolution Trust Corporation”; Paul Marcus, Haynes Professor of Law, College of William and Mary, speech entitled, “The Right to Counsel in Criminal Cases: A National Crisis”; Grace Chung Becker, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice, speech entitled, “Civil Rights in the 21st Century.”
V. Faculty Leaders in Professionalism Activities in Florida.
- Law School Dean Alfredo Garcia serves as a member of the Standing Committee on Professionalism, the Standing Committee on Fairness and Diversity, the Judicial Independence Committee and the Government Lawyers Committee.
- Director of Professionalism, Judge David L. Levy, the recently retired former Chief Judge of the Third District Court of Appeal, is now the Director of Professionalism. In addition to the distinguished awards and professional and civic activities marking Judge Levy’s commitment to professionalism and public service, which are far too numerous to enumerate here, Judge Levy services or has served, inter alia, as a member of the Florida Bar Association, Florida Conference of Circuit Court Judges (1978-1989), Florida Conference of District Court of Appeal Judges (1989-present).
- Assistant Dean and Director of Pro Bono Services, John Hernandez, coordinates the student services portion of the program, overseeing the maintenance of student records for pro bono hours performed and a variety of sites where students can fulfill their pro bono requirement. Dean Hernandez has been affiliated with St. Thomas University School of Law for over 15 years. He has been a full-time faculty member as well as an administrator. He served as the St. Thomas University School of Law Representative to the Board of Directors of Legal Services of Greater Miami for several years. He also previously served as a public defender in Monroe County, Florida.
Public services fellowships (funded by the Florida Bar Foundation IOTA Program) are awarded to students who wish to serve the community through public interest law. These students are placed in public service agencies in South Florida including inter alia, as the Legal Services of Greater Miami and the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center. In addition, the Law School serves as a lesion to students for Equal Justice Works, a national organization that provides funding for students who pursue a career in public service in the United States.
VII. St. Thomas University Intercultural Human Rights Institute.
- The Intercultural Human Rights Institute is dedicated to promoting the dignity of every human being through research and education of human rights’ issues, social advocacy and direct service to individuals and families whose human rights are threatened or have been violated. The International Human Rights Institute provides legal services to recent immigrants and impoverished local neighborhoods and since 1995 have served approximately 60,000 clients. The Institute provides placement for students in the pro bono or clinical component of the Juris Doctor program.
VIII. Inns of Court.
The South Florida Chapter of the Honorable Peter T. Fay American Inn of Court is, supported and administered through St. Thomas University School of Law. Judges, lawyers, and law students meet four times a year working together to raise the ethical standards of the bench and bar. St. Thomas University School of Law students also participate in the Stephen Booher Inn of Court in Broward County. The law school funds the participation of second and third year students to be educated and mentored by senior members of the bar and bench to both the Peter T. Fay Chapter (Dade) and the Stephen Booher Chapter (Broward).
IX. Judicial Externship Clinical Program.
Students have been placed with state circuit courts, state district courts of appeal, Florida State Supreme Court, US magistrates, US district courts, US district courts of appeal, specialized federal courts such as US bankruptcy courts and US immigration courts, and specialized administrative law tribunals. This academic program exposes students to the ethical and professional issues currently confronting the bar and bench.
X. Diversity of Admissions.
- Diversity of Admissions. St. Thomas University School of Law prides itself on its enduring commitment to diversity in the Profession. Accordingly the diversity of the law school has markedly increased during the past academic year as evidenced by the following information. The admissions data for this academic year shows that (A) (i) there was an increase from last year from 1,276 to 1,311 in Women who applied to the law school; (ii) there was an increase from last year from 494 to 563 in Women who were accepted to the law school; (iii) there was an increase from last year from 595 to 700 of Minority Women who applied to the law school; (iv) there was an increase from last year from 201 to 455 of Minority Women who were accepted to the law school; (B) (i) there was an increase from last year from 485 to 536 Minority Males who applied to the law school; (ii) there was an decrease from last year from 176 to 174 Minority Males who were accepted to the law school.