Preparing for Practice in Transnational Business Law

When I came to Florida State University College of Law, I knew the kind of law I was most interested in was private international law. While there are also wonderful courses and professors focused on immigration and public international law, I knew I was most interested in transnational business operations and that was where I wanted to focus my studies.

While you do not get to choose your courses during your first year, I was still able to get involved with international programs and organizations at the College of Law. The International Law Students Association (ILSA) chapter had a board position for a 1L that focused on private international law. I ran and was elected for the post and have been involved with ILSA ever since. Once you get the option to choose your own courses, the international law classes offered at the College of Law are awesome. International Trade Law, International Business Transactions, International Human Rights, International Litigation and Arbitration…and the list goes on and on.

Since my 1L year, I have also attended many “Networking Noshes” put on by the Placement Office that have included attorneys whose practices included international transactions and issues. During the second semester of my 1L year I organized an event that brought a Tallahassee international trade attorney to campus to speak at an event co-sponsored by ILSA and the Business Law Society.

After my first year, I took advantage of the Summer Program in Law at Oxford. Not only did I get to live on the campus at Oxford University in Oxford, England, I was also able to take European Union Law from an Oxford don who is one of the most highly regarded experts on European Union regulation, especially environmental regulation. It was definitely an once-in-a-lifetime experience that I would recommend to anyone.

In addition to these programs and opportunities, some of my fellow ILSA members introduced me to the American Bar Association Section of International Law, which supports programs all over the world. I joined several of their committees and when I expressed interest in being more involved with the Europe Committee, I was appointed as Vice-Chair. Now, whenever there is a committee conference call, the e-mail notifications that go out to named partners at multi-national firms includes my name and e-mail signature. It has been an incredible networking tool and a lot of fun getting to know the different personalities from places like Germany, Ireland, and Switzerland as well as learning about their approach to and support of the legal profession.

The College of Law also participated in the William C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot competition in Vienna, Austria, for the first time in April 2014. The event featured some of the most well-respected and well-known arbitration experts in the field, who sat as judges during the competition. Since more than 90% of all international contract disputes are bound by arbitration agreements, it was an amazing opportunity for real hands-on training that you cannot get any other way.

It is a really exciting time for international law studies, so if you are interested in international law, Florida State University College of Law is a great place to be!

?????????????????????????????????????????? Bryan Yasinsac, 3L

My Externship with the Second Judicial Circuit Court Provided Unparalleled Experience in Both Criminal and Civil Law

There are so many different directions you can take with a law degree that I have changed my career path numerous times throughout my law school journey. While exploring different options during my 2L year, I chose to receive class credit through an externship with the Second Judicial Circuit Court of Florida. This opportunity opened my eyes to several avenues of law that I had never seen myself pursuing, while helping me to cross out others that I had been curious about.

There could not have been a better way for me to be introduced to the real-world aspects of both criminal and civil law than in the thirteen weeks I spent at this externship. This experience allowed me to work for two judges, one who handled cases from the felony criminal division, and the other who handled probate, guardianships, and family law cases. The cases that I witnessed ranged from custody disputes to rape trials and everything in between. Not only did the types of cases differ between judges, but each also had very contrasting personalities in and out of the courtroom.

The circuit court certainly introduced me to a fast paced work environment. There was always something going on as well as new things to see or experience. Between drafting orders and doing legal research, I took as many opportunities as I could to sit in on hearings and trials. I honestly believe that I gained more hands-on experience in this program than I have in all my other legal activities combine up to that point.

The work environment did not really have a “chain of command” like you might find in other government and corporate legal offices or law firms. In contrast, I had a great deal of direct contact and received a tremendous amount of one-on-one feedback from the judges I was assigned. It appeared to me that they truly did enjoy advising and “teaching” students and legal interns. They spent hours with me explaining the law and answering any questions I had. I felt that they really wanted me to have a better understanding of the law and how the judicial system works. On my very first day, one of the judges said, “You work with me, not for me.” From that day forward, I did not have any experiences that led me to believe anything different.

?????????????????????????????????????????? Chelsea Furman, 3L

An Aging Florida Population Provides Opportunities for Practice in Estate Planning, Tax, and Elder Law

Florida State University College of Law has a myriad of opportunities to study estate planning and tax law. While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I worked for an estate planning, probate and elder law attorney and started pursuing my passion to help prepare clients for their elder years. In Florida, this field of law is in demand because of the large number of retirement-age residents and senior citizens in the current population and those who relocate to Florida each year. The College of Law has prepared me to go into this specific area of law through my mentor, the estate planning and elder law society, classes and career opportunities through the Placement Office.

Before I started my 1L year, I was asked if I would like a mentor. Not knowing exactly what direction my law career would head, I quickly said “Yes!” My mentor, Carter, was a 2L, president of the Estate Planning and Elder Law Society, and someone who really gave me great advice going into my first semester of law school. Since joining the Estate Planning and Elder Law society myself as a general body member, I have attended meetings and have also been able to network with several of my fellow classmates. The opportunity to meet fellow students who share an interest in the same area of law as I do is wonderful and the Society has been a great information resource as well. Even as a relatively new student organization, we have held several general body meetings and have a goal of adding networking functions with alumni and other legal professionals to our schedule in the future.

Now that I am a 2L I am taking courses in my area of interest, but both Property and Legal Writing, taken during my 1L year, helped to sharpen my skills for the future. In Property, I learned about gifts, estates and land interests and based on past work experience I know these topics come up every day when drafting and finalizing deeds within estates and trusts. By the time I graduate, I hope to have taken Taxation, Estate and Gift Tax, Family Law, Gratuitous Transfers, and possibly Real Estate Finance. The College of Law offers many classes to choose from that involve estate planning and tax law and has a stellar faculty who specialize in this area.

Lastly, our wonderful Placement Office sends e-mails regarding functions or “Networking Noshes” which host attorneys from all around the state, region and even the country in all areas of law. They also administer a Symplicity web site which includes a job database and a profile application where students can maintain a profile that can be used during a job search. I used it as a 1L to search for summer positions and Symplicity has been a great resource to help me find options for jobs, internships, externships and more. So far, I have applied with two tax attorneys in Tallahassee through Symplicity that had open paid clerk positions. Florida State University College of Law really has all the resources to aid you in your quest for whatever area of law you are interested in practicing.

To conclude, the College of Law offers multiple resources to excel in the area of estate planning and tax law. From classes and faculty, mentors and networking, and job placement resources, we have it all.

?????????????????????????????????????????? Shelby Loveless, 2L

Preparation to Practice in Environmental and Land Use Law

The Florida State University College of Law has a number of great opportunities if you are interested in environmental law. Each semester there are several events you can attend that can help you network with individuals practicing in the field, including a series of environmental speakers who come to speak on issues such as climate change, the Clean Water Act, and endangered species. The College of Law also offers a certificate program for students interested in specializing in environmental law. The professors who are involved in this program are all incredibly helpful and teach everything from oil and fracking law to coastal law.

We are also very fortunate that our Placement Office is dedicated to helping students get experience while in law school as well as employment after law school. They plan a number of events and usually have at least one a semester with events related to environmental law. These are great opportunities to meet alumni and other professionals who are practicing in the field. Recently the attorneys from Hopping, Green, and Sam participated on a panel focused on environmental law practice in a private law firm. The Placement Office also encourages students to use their Simplicity data base application for connecting with employers in your area of interest. This is an easy way to connect with a specific firm, type of job, or to get in contact with helpful alumni.

Student organizations can also be valuable for environmental law students. The Journal of Land Use and Environmental Law (JLUEL) is published twice a year and is a great opportunity to have an article published on a topic related to environmental law. The Environmental Law Society (ELS) brings in speakers for events related to current issues in environmental law. Last year this included an event focused on the Land and Water Amendment ballot initiative. A few members also attend the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference through scholarships that helped members network and learn more about choosing a career path. ELS also introduced a new mentorship program last year which further expanded our networking opportunities. The mentor I was assigned to works at the Florida Department of Environmental Protections and volunteers with a group called Pals Ed Litem. The Young Lawyer Division – Law Student Section of the Florida Bar also has members interested in environmental and land use law who have the opportunity to network with young lawyers practicing in this area.

The College of Law hosts an environmental law conference each year that brings in environmental law professors from all over the county and provides externships at environmental organizations such as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Earthjustice and 1000 Friends of Florida. Pro bono opportunities are also available with other organizations, many with headquarters right here in Tallahassee.

Florida State University College of Law offers so many opportunities to get involved in environmental law. From the Certificate Program, the networking opportunities, extra-curricular activities, and externships, the school has endless routes for preparing students for a job in environmental law.

??????????????????????????????????? Stephanie Schwartz, 2L

The Summer Program in Law at Oxford Provides a Rich Educational and Cultural Experience

Studying abroad is something we all think about throughout our college years, but why stop there? Florida State University College of Law provides a wonderful option each summer, hosted by Oxford University in Oxford, England, to learn about law while abroad. This program provides students with the opportunity to learn about the history of law, as well as other areas of the law, with a curriculum that varies each summer.

Students can take two to four classes which include English Legal History and European Union Law. I was fortunate to also have the opportunity to take a Criminal Procedure course while abroad, which was valuable for me and my studies at Florida State. While the courses offered each summer varies, the one thing students can always count on is that they will be able to learn from world renowned Oxford dons as well as our College of Law professors. Being abroad with our own professors really gives students a chance to develop relationships with them that can make the learning experience much more enriching.

In my opinion, one of the most attractive features about this program is the location. Oxford is a historic, cultural city, which provides students an environment to dive into their education headfirst without being limited to just the classroom. If you are not satisfied with just the lesson about Blackstone in English Legal History, you can walk down the street to All Souls College where you will find his statue along with a wonderful librarian eager to tell you more about him. Interested in Shakespeare? Take a short bus ride to his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire and take a tour of his birthplace, followed by a night at the theatre where you can experience one of his many masterpieces.

Oxford is also full of museums to satisfy a wide variety of interests. While I was there I had the opportunity to walk down the street to the Ashmolean Museum and experience a special exhibition of beautiful Stradivarius violins. Other options include checking out the collection of shrunken heads at the Pitt Rivers Museum.

For those who aren’t interested in museums, there are plenty of other things to do as well. You can literary take a walking tour of the city or even a spooky ghost tour! If you need a break from studying or just want to relax, you can take a cruise or try punting down the River Thames followed by a delicious meal at any one of the city’s 50 historic pubs. Oxford is a pot of gold when it comes to things to do to keep you busy.

Another exciting feature about being in Europe is that transportation between countries and cities is so easy and weekend trips can facilitate students gaining even more cultural experiences. Feel free to hop on a plane to Dublin for a few days and celebrate with the Irish. Or take a road trip through the British Isles mingling with the locals as you make your way to the breathtaking coast of Wales. The possibilities are endless!

During my summer at Oxford I was lucky enough to partake in most of these activities and I must admit that the experience is still unmatched!

??????????????????????????????????  Jessica Fernandez, 3L