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Jax Daily Record Monday, Apr. 19, 201012:00 PM EST

UNF teaches law on the big screen


by Joe Wilhelm Jr.

Staff Writer

It may not have involved the suspense of a good court drama, but the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association was able to supply a surprise ending of its own Wednesday.

The scheduled speaker for the JWLA monthly luncheon at the River Club in Downtown Jacksonville was to be George “Bob” Dekle, who gained notoriety for his prosecution of Ted Bundy. Dekle was forced to cancel his appearance and notified the group on Monday.

JWLA Board member Kate Mesic then called on the person who inspired her to study law, University of North Florida Director of the Pre-Law Program Martin Edwards.

“He really takes an interest in his students,” said Mesic. “He is there every step of the way encouraging students to succeed.”

UNF’s Pre-Law program is part of the school’s Department of Political Science and Public Administration. The goal of the program is to prepare students for law school and a legal career. One of the more recently developed tools Edwards has developed to teach the practice of law is the “Law in Cinema” course, which he talked about Wednesday at the JWLA meeting.

“It’s been a lot of fun to teach,” said Edwards. “I knew it would be a popular course because everyone likes the movies.”

Edwards explained the course took about two years to develop, and it was developed out of his familiarity with the film industry, having friends and family in the business.

“It’s fun to dispel some of the myths in movies and use the movies to teach students about the practice of law,” said Edwards. “‘My Cousin Vinny’ may have been a funny movie, but it did display the role of a defense attorney. Their job is to find a flaw in the prosecution’s case.”

He presented a sampling of what the course dissects over a semester. The movie titles included “Counselor at Law” featuring John Barrymore, “To Kill a Mockingbird” with Gregory Peck, “The Verdict” with Paul Newman, “Anatomy of a Murder” with James Stewart and George C. Scott, and “12 Angry Men” with Henry Fonda.

“Imagine making up a mid-term or final exam including names like Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Paul Newman and James Stewart,” said Edwards.

Those in attendance were interested in how Edwards was using a different approach to teach the practice of law

“It’s great that UNF has a professor and a program that is so educational and innovative in the field of law,” said Mary Scott, JWLA President. “I would’ve liked to have taken a course like that when I was an undergrad at Alabama. It’s great that Mr. Edwards cares so much about his students and the successes that they have had.”

In other JWLA news, nominations for the executive board are now being accepted. President-Elect Lindsay Tygart-Havice will become president at the June Judicial Reception, but nominations can be made for all other positions on the executive board.

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