Florida International University College of Law
|Florida International University College of Law|
|Location||Miami, FL, US|
|Outlines||1 (See List)|
The College of Law at Florida International University is one of the youngest American law schools. Located in Miami, Florida, the institution opened its doors to students in August of 2002. The school received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association in August of 2004, and was granted full accreditation on December 1, 2006. The inaugural class graduated on May 22, 2005.
Florida International University worked towards the creation of a public law school in South Florida for many years, beginning with the 1986 appointment of Modesto A. Maidique as University president. Maidique met resistance from the Florida Board of Regents, which had a number of graduates of other Florida law schools, and opposed the opening of any new public law schools in the state. The establishment of this institution was finally realized in 2000, when Governor Jeb Bush pushed the project through the state legislature, along with the re-establishment of a law school at Florida A & M University.
Shortly thereafter, the College of Law hired Leonard Strickman as its inaugural Dean. Strickman, a Yale Law School graduate, had previously served as Dean of the Northern Illinois University College of Law and the University of Arkansas School of Law, and had been a member of the ABA Accreditation Committee during the 1990s, and had chaired 15 ABA accreditation site visits.
On February 10, 2007, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an Associate Justice for the United States Supreme Court, headed the Dedication of the new law school building. She formally dedicated the building and delivered a key-note address along with other dignitaries. The Rafael Diaz-Balart Hall Dedication took take place at the FIU Pharmed Arena and was preceded and followed by tours of the new law school building.
In March of 2007, the FIU College of Law received its first national ranking in U.S. News & World Report. FIU was ranked in the third tier of the four tiers of law school, marking the first time in several decades that a new law school has been so highly ranked. In April of 2007, it was revealed that December 2006, FIU Law graduates passed the Florida bar exam with a 94 percent passing rate, the highest in the state of Florida. 
The FIU College of Law has about 30 full-time faculty members (including the Dean and the Associate Dean for Academics, both of whom teach on an occasional basis), and also has various visiting professors who teach subjects within their areas of expertise.
The founding faculty are the professors who came to the University before it was opened to students. Under Dean Strickman's guidance (and with the added incentive of South Florida's temperate climate, the College of Law recruited a highly experienced founding faculty that included:
- Thomas E. Baker, professor of Constitutional law and former Administrative Assistant to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist
- Jorge Esquirol, professor of International law, who had previously been Director of Academic Affairs in the Harvard Law School Graduate Program.
- Elizabeth Foley, professor of Civil procedure, and former Legislative Aide to two U.S. Congressmen, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Michael Andrews of Texas
- Aya Gruber, professor of Criminal law, who had assisted Alan Dershowitz during the O.J. Simpson case before becoming a public defender in Washington, D.C.
- Andrew J. McClurg, professor of Torts and author of several books including a comedic take on the legal education process, The Law School Trip
- Ediberto Roman, professor of Contract law, and author of numerous articles and a book on the disenfranchisement of residents of the United States' inhabited Insular possessions
In addition, Professor John Stack already a long-time professor of political science at FIU before the foundation of the law school, and director of the Jack D. Gordon Public Policy Institute, became a jointly-appointed faculty member in the College of Law and the Political Science department.
Other notable faculty
While many members of the College of Law faculty are known and well-published within the legal community, several are particularly notable. Professor Stanley Fish was hired to a five year contract, as the Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Humanities and Law in June of 2005.
Professor Jerry W. Markham authored textbooks on various topics, and one of the most thorough and extensive treatises on the history of securities regulation, before coming to FIU. Professor Markham teaches in the areas of business organizations, banking, securities, international litigation, and international business transactions.
Professor Frank T. Read previously served as Dean of five different law schools over a 27-year period before coming to FIU as a visiting professor. Professor Read teaches evidence and professional responsibility.
Professor Henry Latimer, also a visiting professor who taught Alternative Dispute Resolution, was formerly a judge, and was in line to become the first African-American president of the Florida Bar Association when he was tragically killed in a car accident in the Spring of 2005.
The FIU College of Law opened with a class of 67 full-time and 60 part-time students. LSAT and GPA scores placed the inaugural class around the middle of Florida's 11 law schools. The first graduate was Rosann Spiegel, also a previous FIU alumnus, who finished the program a semester ahead of schedule. Spiegel graduated in December of 2004 and passed the February 2005 bar examination - briefly making FIU the only law school in the country with a 100% bar passage rate. FIU, preparing for only its second graduation in Spring 2006, had passing scores from 19 of 22 students who took the Bar exam in February 2006. The 86.4 percent passing rate was bested only by Florida State University (91.2 percent) and the University of Florida (87.3 percent). The state average -- including graduates from all 10 Florida law schools and out-of-state graduates who took the Florida test -- was 73.2 percent.
In the February 2007 Bar, FIU Law ranked the highest with a 94% passing rate, beating the top universities in the state, including the University of Florida, Florida State University, and the University of Miami.
The student body has also formed a Law Review and a Moot Court team, as well as a Student Bar Association and other student organizations, such as a chapter of the Federalist Society and a Sports and Entertainment Law Society (SELS).
Currently, the institution has about 400 students, including part-time and full-time first, second, and third year students. Eventually, the school is projected to have a capacity of about 600 students at a time.
The FIU College of Law is unique among American law schools in that it requires all students to take a course entitled An Introduction to International and Comparative Law during their first year. Other required first year courses are more typical - Constitutional law, Torts, and Contracts in the first semester, Criminal law, Civil Procedure, and Property in the second, and legal writing classes (called Legal Skills and Values, or simply LSV) throughout. However, each of the substantive classes also dedicates a portion of its discussion to international and comparative issues in that area of law.
Upper level requirements also include an additional course relating to international law, an additional LSV class, a writing seminar, and a course in Professional Responsibility.
The FIU College of Law occupies a brand new state of the art building, the Rafael Díaz-Ballart Hall, designed by renowned architect Robert A. M. Stern. The facility is one of the largest and most modern in the state,and will host classes as of the Fall semester of 2006. A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the law school's building on May 22, 2005 (the same day as the inaugural commencement), although the foundation had already been laid, and principal construction had already begun at that time. $34 million was budgeted for the construction of the facility. The new building is also on the University Park campus, across from the Pharmed Arena and adjacent to the newly constructed recreation center and a 1,000-car parking garage.
Construction of the facility suffered setbacks when the University Park Campus suffered direct hits from Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma as each passed through South Florida in the Fall of 2005. In each instance, damage to the structure was accompanied by increases in the costs of labor and materials.
Initially, the school had occupied several floors of the Green Library building at FIU's University Park campus. The fourth floor of that building contained faculty offices and the Dean's suite. The law library was located on the third floor, and several classrooms on the first floor were dedicated to law student use.