Thursday, October 20, 2011

College of Law Ranked Nationally for Clinical Opportunities

Orlando, Fla. – Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) College of Law was recently ranked 17th in the nation for providing clinical opportunities by National Jurist magazine, beating out other law schools such as Harvard, University of Kansas, and all Florida law schools.   The FAMU College of Law is one of only two historically black colleges or universities (HBCU) to make the list.

“There is a need in Central Florida and around the nation for legal representation for underrepresented populations,” said LeRoy Pernell, FAMU College of Law Dean.  “I am pleased that we can be recognized for the opportunities we provide to law students knowing that our efforts impact the surrounding community to a positive end.”

The September issue of the magazine for law students ranked the top 20 American Bar Association (ABA) law schools based on the total number of full-time clinical course positions offered per the number of full-time students. National Jurist used information from the Official Guide to ABA Approved Law Schools, 2011 and 2012 edition to compile the list.

The FAMU College of Law’s Legal Clinic Program is under the direction of Assistant Professor Ann Marie Cavazos and includes Guardian Ad-Litem, Public Defender, Prosecution, Judicial Externship, Homelessness and Legal Advocacy, Death Penalty, Housing and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Community and Economic Development.  Information sessions are held regularly to inform students of available opportunities.  Students participating in the legal clinics have assisted Orlando’s indigent population with numerous court cases, and have been recognized for their winning efforts. 

“Consistent with the law school mission to provide legal services to the underrepresented population our primary objective is to create and increase opportunities for law students to get hands-on experience,” said Ann Marie Cavazos, associate professor and director of the FAMU College of Law Legal Clinic.  “In a down economy, the poor and underrepresented are faced with myriad of legal issues and employers are looking at law school clinics to teach students practical skills and professionalism, so they can hit the ground running.”

During the 2010-2011 academic year, three College of Law students participating as legal interns worked with Jim Kallinger, former Florida Chief Child Advocate with the Governor's Office of Adoption and Child Protection, to compose a proposed bill that would require parents of children in state custody to pay child support to the State of Florida, if it were to become law.  Additionally, students participating in the Housing Clinic and Homelessness and Legal Advocacy Clinic were specially trained to conduct a canvassing project to warn Orlando area homeowners of loan modification and foreclosure rescue scams.  The Legal Clinic received a $40,000.00 grant for the initiative.  Also, for the past five years, the Legal Clinic has received a grant from the Florida Bar Foundation to fund Public Service Fellowships to law students interested in providing and promoting pro bono and public service.

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