The Pre-Law Program has grown during the years and averages 300 students in the Program each year. Each student who visits the Program office is personally interviews by the Program Director, Martin Edwards and a file is maintained for each student. Pre-Law students can enroll in the Program beginning in the freshman year, and several post-graduate students are also listed among program enrollees.
Because the law covers all facets of human activity, the contemporary lawyer must be a person with a wide range of interests and a board base of knowledge. There is no required list of subjects, which must be taken for admission to law school. However, many of the Program students have a reasonable degree of exposure to such subjects as English composition, history, literature, philosophy, political science, and economics, which provide a good background for a full appreciation of the law. Many of the Program students have selected one of the areas as a major field of concentrated study, but the Program encompasses students from all possible undergraduate majors.
Numerous Pre-Law students are enrolled at UNF. Each year UNF sends its graduates from diverse economic, academic, racial, and cultural backgrounds to law schools and law-related fields in Florida and throughout the nation. Historically under-represented in law schools, women and minority group students have discovered that today there are new opportunities for law school admission.
While law schools do not require specific courses to be taken prior to admission, they do seek those individuals who have received a board-based education and have taken an assortment of courses that contribute to developing exceptional oral and written skills.
According to the Association of American Law Schools, the quality of undergraduate education for the legal profession is grounded in three basic skills and insights:
UNF offers a wide range of courses that sharpen analytical skills, develop effective oral and written communication and facilitate understanding of the societal context of the law.
Aspiring law students are advised to choose an undergraduate major based upon their interests and talents. They are also advised to incorporate into their course selections those courses which strengthen the ability to communicate effectively and develop logical and analytical reasoning skills.
Individualized pre-law advising is a critical link between the student and the field of law. The Director of the Pre-Law Program, Martin Edwards, is a lawyer with a broad legal background. In addition, members of other departments assist as part-time pre-law advisors. Mr. Edwards is an active member of the Southern Association of Pre-Law Advisors. He is very knowledgeable in the area of pre-law curriculum and the admissions criteria of law schools. Additional advising is provided by other experienced faculty and pre-law advisors.
Students considering law school may visit the Director’s office to consult on course selection. Advisors meet with pre-law students in individual conferences each semester to plan a curriculum according to the unique strengths and interests of the student. Advisors work closely with students in selecting courses that will enable them to develop the competencies necessary for law school.
Students may also confer with advisors individually to select the law schools to which they may apply or to identify alternatives to a law career. In meetings with the pre-law advisor, students plan application strategies, prepare for the LSAT and formulate goals for law school scholarships and financial aid.
The Pre-Law Program is located in Building 51, Rooms 2117 & 2118
The Director and the Pre-Law Program’s Office are located in Building 51, Room 2117. The office contains a resource center providing information about accredited law schools across the country.
Group meetings are sponsored there to supply supplemental center contains a library of law school materials including catalogues of every law school in the country. The resource center also contains shelves of books, pamphlets and other materials relating to the law school admissions process, including books and files on the writing of personal statements and securing appropriate letters of recommendation.
The office actively assists students in securing positions with local law firms and internships with public service agencies. In the past years, Program students have interned in such prominent law firms as Bedell, Dittmar, DeVault, Pillans & Coxe, PA., Brown, Terrell, Hogan, Ellis, McClamma and Yegelwel, and Foley & Lardner. Other students have secured paid internships with numerous other law firms, and have clerked or interned at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Office of the State Attorney, Office of the Public Defender and numerous other state and local agencies. In addition, numerous seminars are held on campus in which admissions personnel from the Southeast visit with UNF students to discuss their law schools and the admission process. Prospective students are welcome to visit the Pre-Law Office throughout the year.
The Pre-Law Program Endowed Scholarship is awarded each spring. Several prominent local Jacksonville attorneys, including Edwards Booth, Maria Keebler and Barry Sinoff were maj or contributors to the Scholarship Fund.
The scholarship is based on a combination of scholastic achievement, service, and membership in the Pre-Law Program. At least one $1500 scholarship is awarded each year and there have been years where a second scholarship of $1000 has been awarded.
Program Assistant, Catherine Moore congratulates 2007 Scholarship Recipient Maria Crowley
Scholarship Recipients Megan Uncel (2006) and Leslie McKinney (2005) at a Pre-Law Luncheon.
2010 Recipient Charlotte Austin
2008 Co-Recipient Erika Wilson, a Juris Doctorate Candidate at Stetson College of Law
The Scholarship Application is available in January of each year with a deadline of mid to late March. The recipient is chosen during the April Board of Advisors luncheon usually held in the Law Offices of Holland & Knight in downtown Jacksonville.
2011 Scholarship Recipients
During spring 2011, the Pre-Law Program had a record number of qualified applicants, and for the first time was able to award three scholarships. Congratulations to our scholarship recipients.
Over the years, the Pre-Law Program has accumulated many books, films, articles, study guides and other valuable reference materials to help students prepare for and attain the best results possible on the all-important LSAT.
There are shelves full of hundreds of former LSATs, numerous reference books and guides on how to prepare for the LSAT, and a four-part, seven-hour film series on “How to Take the LSAT,” with a workbook. Students check out the films on a regular basis.
Many former students who have taken the LSAT have donated their study materials to the Program. These resources are also available to current students for their perusal. All of these resources are free to Program students.
There are also many different and varied prep courses students can purchase. The resource center contains information and booklets bout many of these prep courses which are also available for the students to review before deciding upon how much time and financial resources they are able to commit in preparation for the LSAT.
One of the special topics courses, Mock Trial, was instituted during the summer term of 1995. This course was created by Program Director Edwards who continues to teach the course each summer. This course was endowed by the law form of Coker, Myers, Schickel, Sorenson & Higginbotham, P.L. Howard Coker is a past president of the Florida Bar.
This course features many guest speakers such as County Court Judge Eleni Derke and Circuit Court Judge Jack Schemer, who cover courtroom etiquette and procedure and describe what it is like to conduct both driminal and civil trials.Students learn the fundamentals of trial techniques and strategy by active participation in mock trials. The examination of witnesses provides students with opportunities to practice direct and cross-examination skills acquired during the course. Students form into teams of lawyers, witnesses, and assistants, and compete against each other.
Local attorney Paul Eakin shares his experiiences as a lawyer building a successful law practice and about acquiring a good mentor.
The scenarios are developed by the Pre-Law Program Director, Marty Edwards. They mimic real world events but involved fictional characters that in the past have included the Lone Ranger, Batman and Robin, Little Bow Peep and the Phantom of the Opera.
Judge Gregg McCaulie listens to Robin's testimony in the Batman Trial and Judge Russell Healey listens to The Lone Ranger's testimony in The Lone Ranger Trial. Students enjoy looking and acting in character during these trials.
The 2011 Mock Trial class performs The Lone Ranger Trial
Students in the Mock Trial Course dress and act the part of the characters they represent during trial. Students find that this course helps them determine whether or not they would like to be a trial attorney.
The University joined the American Mock Trial Association, during the 1995-96 academic year and competed in intercollegiate mock trial competition for the first time. After finishing sixth, out of twenty-five competing teams, in the Southeast Regional Qualifying Tournament UNF received a bid to the prestigious “Gold Division” of the American Mock Trial Association, which is located in Des Moines, Iowa. UNF was the only first-year team in eleven years to receive a bid to that division. UNF went on to receive the prestigious award as the “Best New Team in America.” Program Director Edwards served as the team’s educator coach, and attorney Charles Lemley served as the team’s attorney coach. Intercollegiate Mock Trial competition has become a very popular endeavor on the UNF campus and students have formed a Mock Trial Organization, which meets regularly and raises funds to help defray travel costs to participate in various tournaments. During the 2000-2001 competition, UNF’s teams were jointly awarded the prestigious “Spirit of AMTA” award for “civility, fair play, and justice.” The teams received the award at both the regional and national competitions. This is the only award voted on by all competing teams. Again during the 2001-2002 regional competition, UNF’s “veteran” team received the “Spirit of AMTA” award. Numerous UNF students have won individual awards as well. Casey Ratchford was UNF’s first All-American Attorney in national competition, and was chosen to make the defense’s closing argument at the national tournament several years ago. Casey went on to graduate law school at Washington & Lee University School of Law and currently is a member of the Pre-Law Program Board of Advisors. Jessica Stebbins wan on All-Region Outstanding Attorney award and was a key member of the award-winning 2001 team. An impressive student, Jessica won the coveted Gates-Cambridge Scholarship to study at Cambridge University in London. She attended Yale Law School and now practices entertainment law in Los Angeles. Her younger sister Karyn was an All-Region witness in 2001. In the 2002 regional competition three UNF students won individual honors. Eric Roberson was voted All-Regional Attorney, receiving the most points of any student-attorney. He attended the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida and is now a member of the Pre-Law Program Board of Advisors. Kate Shonina, playing the role of a doctor, and Jamie Ibrahim, playing the role of a janitor, garnered All-Regional Witness awards. Kate graduated from the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida and is on the Pre-Law Program Board of Advisors and Jamie Ibrahim graduated from Florida Coastal School of Law and now practices law with Jacksonville Legal Aid.
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