Law school receives national rank

Florida A&M University’s Law School legal clinic ranked seventh in the nation for hands-on legal training, according to the September 2008 issue of “National Jurist” magazine.

The law school ranked in the top 50 American Bar Association law schools for student assistance for people in the Orlando area. Scores were based on the amount of full-time clinical positions offered and full-time students available. According to “National Jurist,” FAMU has 101 full-time clinical positions and 237 full time students.

Eunice Caussade, legal clinic instructor and supervisor of housing and homeless clinic said, “We were ecstatic, we didn’t even know, this was a total surprise.”

The legal clinic’s purpose is to give students the opportunity to get real world experience under a licensed attorney, Caussade said.

“We transition law students to lawyers,” Caussade said.

Law students in the clinic are proud of the accomplishment and said they deserve it for the hard work they do.

Gabrielle Sanders, 25, a third-year law student from Fort Lauderdale said, “This accomplishment is awesome and rewarding for a pretty new law school.”

Gary Null, 31, a third-year law student from Monterey, Calif., said receiving recognition for “doing what is your passion” should not be the goal, but FAMU law students should take pride in helping those that no one wants to.

Null said, “We were not even striving, we just do what we normally do everyday.

Ann Marie Cavazos, the director of legal clinic programs, said she is implementing structure into the program and providing guidance. She said the students are going into the community and discussing issues.

“How can you do your trade without practice?” she said.

Cavazos said the school has faculty who are attorneys licensed by the state. These professors assist students with court cases.

“Classroom structure and legal clinic go hand in hand and are definitely needed,” she said.

Ka-Juell Washington, a staff attorney, said the legal clinic is funded in part by the Florida Bar Foundation. He said he goes to court with the students to help them defend their clients.

Cavazos said students learn more from clinical experience. They can apply what they have learned in the classroom in the field.

Nancy Alvarez, 34, a third-year law student from Venezuela, said the clinic is an intense yet enriching experience. She said students learn court decorum through practice.

“It helped me decide what division of law to go into,” she said.

Michael Brown, 25, third-year law student from Boynton Beach, said he would rather have clinical teachings than those in the classroom.

LeRoy Pernell, dean of the law school, said he is proud to have the recognition. He said this exposure will have a positive effect on the law school’s commitment to skill training along with becoming fully accredited.

“The ABA is interested in schools doing exactly what we’re doing,” he said.