American Bar Association honors local law school

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  • | 12:00 p.m. July 12, 2010
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by Joe Wilhelm Jr.

Staff Writer

Award returns to Jacksonville

The Fourth Judicial Circuit has been recognized for its professionalism and now a law school within its boundaries is as well.

The Florida Coastal School of Law is a 2010 recipient of the American Bar Association’s E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award for the development of its Shadow Program.

Florida Coastal students have the opportunity to observe state and federal judges, private practice attorneys, public interest lawyers and governmental law departments at trial and pretrial proceedings, mediations, settlements and other practice–related activities through the program.

The school launched the program with Holland & Knight as its founding sponsor in 2008 as a teaching tool to impart the principles of ethics and professionalism from the perspective of practicing attorneys and judges.

“It’s a tremendous honor for the program. The credit goes to the people on our team, Rob Hornstein and Karen Millard, as well as the support Holland & Knight has given the program,” said Peter Goplerud, dean of Florida Coastal School of Law.

“It’s great to be recognized for a program that helps our students experience what practicing law is all about,” he said.

It has grown from an idea discussed at a lunch during the summer of 2008 into a fully functioning program that helps students bridge the gap from classroom theory to courtroom practice.

A website coordinates the events for students and professionals. It allows lawyers and judges to post events that students can attend through an online program. It takes only a couple of minutes for each event to be posted.

Events include depositions, mediations, client interviews, hearings and trials. In each posting, the lawyer or judge indicates the number of students that can attend the event, the location, the time, the type of event and its expected duration. Once students register for an event, the lawyer or judge posting the event is automatically notified by e-mail.

Professors Hornstein and Millard have worked with Holland & Knight attorneys George “Buddy” Schulz and Larry Hamilton and information technology departments from both organizations to launch the project.

The program began in 2008 with eight events for students to attend and the total has reached 270 events to date. Holland & Knight attorneys were the first hosts for the Shadow Program, but the list of hosts now includes Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, the Public Defender’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office, private firms and judges from state and federal courts.

“The program provides an easy opportunity for the judiciary to engage in the mentoring of our future young lawyers and I am glad to have the opportunity to participate,” said U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Corrigan.

Another host looked forward to fulfilling his duty to give back to the profession.

“Participating in the program gives you a sense of meeting your obligation as a professional to teach others,” said Schulz. “You can learn legal theory from books, but hands-on opportunities are needed to teach the practice of law.”

The award is given by the ABA’s Standing Committee on Professionalism. It recognizes not only law schools across the country, but bar associations, law firms and nonprofit organizations for projects that enhance and promote professionalism among lawyers.

The State Bar of Georgia will be the only other organization honored with the award at the ABA’s annual convention in August.

This may be the first time the Florida Coastal School of Law has received the award, but it’s not the first time the award has been given in the area.

The Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida’s Professionalism Committee and the Jacksonville Bar Association Joint Project Global Professionalism Program was recognized in 2001.

Florida Coastal School of Law Shadow Program

For information, contact:

Professor Robert Hornstein [email protected]

Professor Karen Millard [email protected]

[email protected]