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

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

Preparation to Practice in Real Estate and Estate Planning Law

People often ask you when you tell them that you want to go to law school, “What area do you want to practice?” The answer for many prospective students and even many 1L’s is “I have no idea.”

Deciding what area to study and practice is not an easy decision but one great way to find out is by just trying different subjects, exploring different opportunities, and joining different student organizations. I actually found my niche in the area of real estate law and estate planning by doing a favor for a good friend. He was leaving his law firm for school and needed someone to fill-in for him for a few weeks. This short-term fill-in opportunity turned into a clerkship with a well-known Tallahassee real estate law firm during my 2L year and the following summer.

I knew nothing about real estate law or estate planning prior to my clerkship, but I realized I probably never would have if I had not just tried something new. So now that I had found an area of law that I could see as a career, my next question was, “How do I make myself more marketable to firms and employers in this area?” The answer was easy: Take classes that relate to that subject.

I was so pleased to see that Florida State University College of Law offered a plethora of classes in my topic area such as Estate and Gift Tax, Real Estate Finance, Gratuitous Transfers, and more. Not only did the College of Law offer more classes than I could imagine, they also provide seminars and workshops in this area as well. Additionally, there are student organizations that help students get connected with other students, professors, and professionals interested in this area of law. Our Estate Planning and Elder Law Society is just one example.

It is never too late to decide what you want to study. As a 3L I plan to focus my studies on the courses in my area of interest and plan to get involved in student organizations that foster that interest. I am so thankful that the College of Law offers so much to prepare me to enter this field of law.

If real estate and estate planning are not for you, there is no need to worry. Florida State University College of Law is known for their expertise in the areas of business, environmental, international, and criminal law, and provides the coursework needed to prepare students to practice and succeed in all areas of the law. Finding out what you want to do is not easy, but once you get there, the College of Law has the resources to make you successful in whichever area you choose.

?????????????????????????????????????????? Elizabeth Oakley, 3L

Starting a New Student Organization Is Easier Than You Think

Many of the factors I looked at when I was considering law schools are probably the same ones that everyone else considers. The quality of the faculty, variety of classes offered, geographic location, bar passage rate, as well as other practical considerations are all very important, but where do you go for a sense of family and support during each semester when you are living far from home?

I grew up in a small, suburban town where everyone went to high school with the same people they played with and grew up with as children. I also grew up in a tight-knit Jewish family where we spent every day together and with whom I felt comfortable and safe with my whole life. So why would a prospective student not also consider these factors when deciding where to spend the next 3 years of their life?

While I did involve myself in student organizations early in my 1L year, I still needed that sense of community that I missed from home. At the start of the school year came the Jewish Holidays and I definitely felt homesick and wanted to celebrate with others like myself. After talking with some of my fellow law students, I found that I was not alone. While spending holidays together during our 1L year, we came to realize the need for a more organized forum to plan events and spread awareness. Thus, the re-creation of the Jewish Law Students Association (JLSA) became our goal.

As we embarked on the mission of being recognized as a student organization, we came to realize just how easy the process was and how encouraging the staff in the Office of Student Affairs was as well. We did have to hold “official” elections to designate board positions, revamp our bylaws, recruit a professor to be our advisor and had to register with both the College of Law and the Congress of Graduate Students. Once we were approved, we started planning events and meals, started selling merchandise, created a logo, and began building our membership.

Like any organization, there are hurdles to overcome. There are many student organizations in the College of Law seeking recognition and funding and who are competing for the time and attention of the same students for their membership. This definitely requires the ability to work with and seek compromises with other organizations. However, once these challenges are overcome and events are planned and placed on the calendar, it is pretty easy sailing from there.

I think that it is important to be involved in student organizations while in law school. They can provide a balance to the academic side and can definitely provide a much needed break from the completion of a challenging case briefing. Student organizations are also a facet to networking with professionals, socializing with peers and classmates, and for exploring new interests. They can also fulfill that need of community that can be missing for someone who is venturing to a new place far from home.

Now that I have been through this process, I would encourage any group that has a common goal or interest to consider starting their own student organization. It is easy and you may never know if there are others out there with similar needs or interests unless you explore the option.

?????????????????????????????????????????? Jen Lettman, 3L

University of Central Florida Alumni “UKnight”

When I was considering law schools, prior to my 1L year, I was excited to find out that University of Central Florida (UCF) graduates represented the third-largest group of students within the Florida State University College of Law. At that time I was also impressed with the multitude of student organizations that existed for student involvement, but was disappointed to see that UCF graduates had not formed their own organization to share and celebrate our common bond with our alma mater.

Last year, as a 1L, I started working with other UCF alumni to bring just such an organization to life. Starting this semester, I am beyond thrilled to announce that “UKnight” is off and running. If there has been one organization that I have been really proud to pour my heart into, it is without a doubt, this one. I cannot wait to start meeting, networking, and enjoying sporting events with my fellow Knights and I encourage all UCF alumni at the College of Law to join us!

In addition to our own meetings and events, UKnight will also host events with the Tallahassee UCF Alumni Club. These events will be wonderful opportunities to network, form stronger ties with our beloved undergraduate institution, and form relationships with Knights living in the Tallahassee community. They will include Knights who have gone on to pursue careers in law as well as professionals in other fields.

I am excited about being a part of a UCF community outside of Orlando and hope to work to make it even stronger. I would also encourage everyone to get involved in student organizations while you are here at the College of Law and if there is not one that is near and dear to your heart, consider starting one of your own! There is nothing better than seeing your passion come to fruition.

??????????????????????????????????? Brooke Tharpe, 2L

Women’s Law Symposium: Support, Encouragement, and a Whole Lot More!

Entering my 1L year, I knew that breaking into the legal field would pose many unique challenges for me as a woman. I assumed that these were hurdles I would confront on my own, years after the lengthy discussions of “malum in se” and “malum prohibitum” had concluded. However, this assumption could not have been farther from the truth. As a member of Women’s Law Symposium, I have found support and guidance on navigating the legal world and breaking through any “glass ceilings” I may confront in the course of my career.

Women’s Law Symposium, or “WLS” as it is better known, is a student organization that aims to promote women within the legal profession. Throughout the semester, WLS creates opportunities for its members to network with successful female attorneys and legal professionals, involve themselves with charitable work, and tackle issues within the workplace specific to women.

The WLS mentor-pairing program has been an essential element in my success thus far in law school and will continue to benefit me when I enter the workplace. At the beginning of each academic year, WLS members wishing to receive a mentor are paired through the organization with members of the Tallahassee Women Lawyers Association.

I was paired with a Florida State University College of Law alumnae practicing land use and real estate law, an area of law I have a great interest in. Throughout my first semester, my mentor was happy to answer any question I had (far too many, I assure you) and offer guidance on how to make the most of my experience at the College of Law. Whether I was unsure of how best to approach a professor, study for a final exam, or just needed guidance on professional dress for an event, she cheered me on and gave me practical, invaluable advice as a woman who had already walked my path. Aside from receiving informed answers and advice to my questions, I often met my mentor for lunch or a quick happy hour, and was able to observe interesting events at her firm.

The connection my mentor and I have formed will assuredly benefit me in the future. I have already called upon her for help in my summer job search and know that her help will be invaluable when I search for my first position after graduation. Having someone, who can provide a unique female perspective to the trials of law school and the legal profession, guide me through this process has made all of the difference in my success thus far.

Throughout the year, WLS also provides networking events for mentors and mentees and hosts other events to benefit female students. On campus luncheons bring in notable female practitioners who speak on issues confronting women in the workplace, allowing students to ask questions and gain perspective from women who are presently “in the trenches.” WLS also hosts mixers for students and professional women to encourage networking that will provide students with a variety of professional contacts. WLS’s “Dress for Success!” event teaches professional dress in all professional situations and includes a runway show and discounts at popular retailors. Other key events encourage female students to involve themselves in the community, such as the Silent Auction benefitting Refuge House.

Women’s Law Symposium has given me support and encouragement through its mentoring program, networking opportunities, and educational seminars. I encourage any female student to take advantage of all the organization has to offer—the support alone is invaluable and the advice can be lifesaving!

?????????????????????????????????????????? Ashleigh Lollie, 2L