Monthly Archives: February 2011

Get Your Reading Speed Up To Speed

It’s no secret that large portion of a law student’s life is spent reading dense material that is often difficult to comprehend.  Obviously you’re not going to be able to breeze through Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion at the same speed as the latest US Weekly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t increase your reading speed while still extracting the relevant material from each case.  Gaining speed while sacrificing comprehension is not an option for law students.  Whether you’re a new 1L or well into your law school career,  there is always room for improvement.  Below are a few tips to help you get up to speed.

1.  Read with Purpose. Before you begin to read a case, utilize your syllabus or the casebook’s table of contents to determine why that particular case was assigned.  This will allow you to focus on the key points of the case and extract the relevant court reasoning without getting distracted by other legal issues discussed in the opinion.  For example, if you are reading for your Torts I class and the case you’re about to begin is listed on the syllabus under the subheading of “causation” within the larger issue of “negligence” then you can direct your attention to the details of the case relating to causation without getting tripped up in the court’s discussion of “duty,” “breach,” or “damages.”

2.  Read when you are Fresh/Alert. Know yourself and how you study best.  If you are more alert in the morning, utilize your time before or between classes to do your reading.  Many students find that they can dramatically increase their reading speed simply by reading at the time that works best for them.

3.  Avoid Excessive Highlighting. Many times, highlighting acts as a substitute for careful reading.  It is a passive activity that does not require you, the reader, to do anything to better comprehend the material.  If you highlight lines of text, the general understanding is that you are going to go back and reread that material to learn it at a later date.  Now you’re reading the material at least twice (and possibly more) which will take you even longer.

4.  Do Not Read Aloud. Your brain is an amazing organ that can take in and comprehend material at a much greater speed than you can vocalize.  Since most people can speak at a rate of 140 words/minute, if you read your assignments aloud to yourself, you are severely decreasing your reading speed.

5.  Practice! Speed reading does not happen overnight.  Consider utilizing a software program that tracks your reading speed and comprehension progress.  The Academic Success Department has purchased reading speed software licenses with the EyeQ program.  This software allows you to complete reading speed exercises at your own convenience.  To see the best improvement, the lessons only take about 5-7 minutes and are completed every 2-3 days.  The license is good for one year from the date of registration and costs $20 for students.  If you are interested in the EyeQ program, or have any other questions, please schedule an appointment to see Diane Mulligan in the Academic Success Department.

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Celebrating the Ehrlich Luncheon, Moot Court success

  • I want to thank everyone all of the people responsible for the success of the Ehrlich Luncheon. Attendance was high, the video presentation was outstanding, and, of course, the recipient of the award Buddy Schulz is extraordinarily deserving.
  • Our Moot Court team reached the quarter-finals at a national competition this weekend. The team defeated the University of North Carolina and Florida State University to reach the quarter-finals at the Charleston National Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition. The brief writer/oralists were Kara L. Kennedy and Jenna N. Thomas. Nicole C. DeVito served as the Team Manager. Professor Nick Martino coached the team.

Congratulations to all!

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Meet the Academic Success Team

Choosing an academic success counselor or writing specialist is like choosing the perfect pair of jeans – any style has you covered but what you really want is the best fit for you.  With that in mind, this is an introduction to the Academic Succss Team.  Each individual brings their own style to the department and we’re sure that you’ll find a counselor or writing specialist with whom you have something in common.  If you ever have any questions, please come by to speak to us.  We look forward to working with you!

Diane Mulligan (Associate Director of Academic Success); University of Florida – Bachelor of Science, Psychology; Florida State University College of Law – Juris Doctor; Bar License – Florida; Diane grew up in rural Pennsylvania and spent a year after college as a dolphin trainer/researcher.  Prior to joining the Coastal team, Diane practiced civil litigation at a mid-sized firm in Orlando, FL.  In her spare time, Diane enjoys traveling, photography, reading, and spending time with her toy poodle, Oreo.

Douglas Helsing (Academic Success Counselor); Eastern Washington University – Bachelor Business Administration; University of Pittsburgh – Juris Doctor; Bar License – Florida; Doug served in the Air Force before attending law school and worked at the Pentagon for the Joint Chiefs of Staff performing global intercontinental ballistic missile watch.  In his spare time, Doug enjoys swimming and hiking.

Lisa Desai (Bar Prep Instructor); Ramapo College of New Jersey – Bachelor of Arts, Psychology and Business (dual degree); Florida Coastal School of Law – Juris Doctor; Bar License – Florida; Lisa grew up in Northern New Jersey and moved to the Jacksonville area to attend law school.  Prior to joining Coastal, Lisa worked as an Assistant State Attorney in the Fourth Judicial Circuit, specifically in Duval and Clay Counties, and as a Judicial Staff Attorney.  In her spare time, Lisa enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time at the beach with her yellow lab, Bailey.

Mollie Hazel (Bar Prep Instructor); Prescott College – Bachelor of Arts, Environmental Studies; Vermont Law School – Juris Doctor & Master of Studies in Environmental Law; Bar License – Vermont; Before joining the Florida Coastal Academic Success Team, Mollie lived in Vermont and was a partner in a private practice law firm.  She enjoys gardening and playing with her two young sons.

Missy Davenport (Bar Prep Instructor); Jacksonville University – Bachelor of Science, Sociology; Florida Coastal School of Law – Juris Doctor; Bar License – Florida; Missy moved to Jacksonville from Bristol, Virginia in 2005.  Before law school, she worked as a buyer for a chain of grocery stores.  Missy’s hobbies include art history, architecture, reading, and photography.

Kim Erickson (Academic Success Counselor); Bowling Green State University – Bachelor of Science, Elementary Education; Oklahoma City University School of Law – Juris Doctor; Bar Licenses – Oklahoma and Arizona.  Prior to joining the Academic Success Team, Kim was a practicing attorney in the Phoenix, Arizona office of Bryan Cave LLP in the class action and commercial litigation practice groups. Kim also spent two years in the Corporate Law Department of State Farm Mutual Insurance Companies in Bloomington, Illinois.  She began her practice in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma at a small insurance defense firm.  Kim enjoys spending time with her family, studying the learning process, reading just about anything, watching football, and relaxing on the beach.

Katie Tuohy (Academic Success Counselor); University of Florida – Bachelor of Science, Business Administration, Marketing; Florida State University College of Law – Juris Doctor; Bar License – Florida.  Katie grew up in Jacksonville.  Prior to joining the Coastal team, she worked as an Assistant State Attorney in the Fourth Judicial Circuit.  In her spare time, Katie enjoys traveling, playing tennis, and spending time with her family and friends.

Kristin Pawlowski (Academic Success Counselor); Lehigh University – Bachelor of Arts, Environmental Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies; University of South Carolina School of Law – Juris Doctor; Bar License – South Carolina.  Before law school, Kristin spent most of her time in the pool, competing at the National and Division I Collegiate level.   Prior to joining Coastal, Kristin worked as a Staff Attorney in the South Carolina Supreme Court and later as an Attorney for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.  In her spare time Kristin enjoys exploring her culinary interests in the kitchen, entertaining family and friends, or taking her Yorkie, Chloe, for a stroll.

Ben Smith (Academic Success Counselor); University of Tennessee – Bachelor of Science, Business Administration; Florida State University College of Law – Juris Doctor; Bar License – Tennessee; Ben grew up in East Tennessee.  Prior to joining Florida Coastal, Ben worked as an Assistant General Counsel in Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services, and also worked at a private practice law firm.   In his spare time, Ben enjoys cycling, participating in politics, reading, and spending time with his wife, Maria, and their dog, Gunner.

Rosan Larizza (Writing Specialist); University of Georgia, Bachelor of Arts, Journalism; University of California at Long Beach, Master of Arts, English Language and Literature; Instituto de Cervantes, Diploma Nivel Superior en Español; Rosan is a world traveler, polyglot, fan of different languages and cultures, cinema, literature, cycling, hiking, and understatement, always in search of the right word in the right place.

Jennifer Trice Carter (Administrative Assistant to the Director of Academic Success); Florida Community College at Jacksonville – Associate of Arts; in her spare time, Jennifer enjoys playing soccer, working crossword puzzles, and reading.

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Coastal students earn legal services fellowships

Florida Coastal School of Law was honored to see two students receive prestigious Florida Bar Association Legal Aid Summer Fellowships this summer.

Travis Sumpter and Annie Kwon were two students of more than 40 across the state chosen for the fellowships. More than 400 students applied.

The opportunity gives students interested in public law the hands-on experience of working at a Florida legal aid program for 11 weeks. To qualify, applicants had to show their commitment and experience working with the low-income community, a passion and insight for public service work, their future goals and employment objectives and academic achievements, among other selection criteria.

Sumpter, a South Carolina native and 3L Coastal student who is the first male in his immediate family to attend college and pursue a higher level of education, worked as a fellow with Southern Legal Counsel Inc. His experiences included work on a city ordinance case involving no-trespass citations and the homeless in city parks.

“I want to practice labor and employment law upon graduating law school,” said Sumpter, who is currently an employment law bureau clerk at the Office of the Attorney General. “I have a passion for learning about the laws and regulations that govern the U.S. workforce. I also have a profound interest in ensuring that there are productive working relationships between employer and employee and the workplace is free of allegations of discrimination.”

Kwon, also a third year student at Florida Coastal School of Law, spent her 11-week fellowship at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid Inc. As a fellow, Kwon was involved in the research and drafting of pleadings and motions in class action and individual cases — particularly collections and foreclosure issues. She observed and participated in many areas of the firm’s work, including insight on how consumers are harassed by debt collectors.

Kwon, who is from Orlando, is pursuing a career in Florida consumer law, and called the experience “eye-opening.”

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Students provide legal support to military community

Florida Coastal School of Law students Rolando Rodriquez and Mike Cintron could best be described as men on a mission. Their goal? To help military reservists at Naval Air Station Jacksonville get their legal needs squared away before deployment.

The program is helping bridge the gap between the city’s legal community and the military in Jacksonville, which boasts two naval air stations.

As a naval reservist, Rodriquez was familiar with the legal needs facing local military. However, his decision to help meet those needs took shape after having conversations with his reserve unit following his first year at Florida Coastal.

“I realized how much legal help our reservists and veterans need prior to deploying overseas — whenever a unit deploys, there are many things that need to happen, and I would like to lessen the burden that most of these service members have to go through,” Rodriguez explained. “Family planning is a part of Navy life. Naval reservists have to have family plans in hand prior to deploying ó I figured if we lent a helping hand with some of the basic legal issues now, the reservists could get one more check mark done well in advance.”

Rodriguez and Cintron helped found the Military Law Society at the law school. Cintron is currently the organization’s president. The group has brainstormed about different legal issues that Navy reservists face and has worked together to find solutions. Drafting service members’ wills, for example, is one way the group has assisted the mission. The undertaking has been supported by local private attorneys, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and members of Naval Construction Battalion 14.

Assisting the military with its legal challenges is a growing need, Rodriguez said. Since Jacksonville has such a dominant military presence, he believes local attorneys should be increasingly familiar with issues involving veteran rights, UCMJ, military retirees and TriCare.

“It will be a lot of hard work, but I believe the results warrant such an effort,” Rodriguez said. “This initiative not only provides students with a hands-on experience with clients, but also exposes the students to the legal needs of our service members.”


For photos of the students providing assistance, please click here. Photos by Perry Bindelglass

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Professor returns to Bosnia for Fulbright Scholarship

David Pimentel

Professor David Pimentel is working in Bosnia and Herzegovina this year on a Fulbright Scholarship. Pimentel, who has extensive experience studying judicial systems and reforms around the world, is analyzing the effectiveness of those efforts in developing nations – many of which he helped initiate more than eight years ago.

His work will give the U.S. State Department, as well as international aid organizations, a realistic and timely perspective of reform policy in post-war areas. Countries like Iraq and Afghanistan could be the first to benefit from the research.

“By the time I started my academic career at Florida Coastal in 2007, I had become somewhat skeptical about the impact of these reform efforts ó many of which seemed rooted in cultural perspective of donor nations,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel’s first trip to the area was in 2002, when he worked on a project funded by the Norwegian government to help reform the court system in post-war Bosnia. He stayed on to lead another project funded by the Agency for International Development to restructure the court system in Bosnia. That work was followed by similar court reform research and reform in Romania and Southern Sudan, where he headed the Rule of Law efforts for the United Nations.

“They wanted to see the judiciaries of the post-conflict or developing nations reformed to look more like their own,” he said.

Pimentel published an article called ìRule of Law Reform without Cultural Imperialism,î in which he questioned the concept.

Other academics, specifically Rosa Brooks at Georgetown University, have raised similar questions. In his Fulbright proposal, he suggested a research project that would examine the post-war judicial reforms in Bosnia to see if any had achieved their intended goals eight to 10 years later.

“These include some of the reforms I worked on personally, so I am well acquainted with the goals, the project, the reforms and the people involved,” he said. “So last time I came as a reform worker and this time Iím coming as an academic — with an inquiry into the effectiveness of the rule of law reform in this post-conflict society.”

While his academic discoveries in Bosnia are far from over, Pimentel wonders if it is possible for Western reforms to ever take root in developing countries.

“This comes as a surprise to some, just as many were surprised that American-style democracy was not enthusiastically embraced in Iraq,” he said. “But a legal system – a judicial system – is deeply rooted in cultural institutions and expectations.”

Pimentel said the return to Bosnia has been a personally rewarding experience for his family, as well. The four oldest Pimentel children went to Bosnian public schools in Sarajevo in 2002. This time, the three youngest children are “discovering the wonders of this beautiful city.” The family is also learning the Bosnian language.

“The Bosnian people are very warm and friendly which makes this cultural experience very rewarding,” Pimentel said. “Much of the anti-American sentiment that prevails around the world does not exist in Sarajevo. Indeed, it was the intervention of the Americans that brought the war to an end, and the Bosnians remember this.”

Pimentel will also be lecturing at the University of Sarajevo as part of his visit.

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Law Review Symposium draws interest, spring event in works

In the spring, approximately 100 guests attended the Florida Coastal Law Review’s annual Symposium, “Family, Life, and Legacy: Planning Issues for the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender Communities.” The day-long event featured a standout panel of speakers and has given new momentum to the upcoming 2011 event.

Florida Coastal Law Review Submissions Editor Nathan R. Ross helped orchestrate the event, which attracted students and faculty, as well as attorneys who were eligible for continuing legal education credits that day.

Featured speakers included: Anthony M. Brown, Esq., from Albert W. Chianese & Associates in New York City; Professor Mark Strasser from Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio; Professor Scott Titshaw from Mercer University School of Law in Macon, Ga.; Dr. Jillian T. Weiss, Associate Professor of Law and Society at Ramapo College of New Jersey; Gregory Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in the Southern Regional Office of Lambda Legal; and Judi OíKelley, Director of Life Planning and Director of Law School Development for Lambda Legal.

“We look for topics that challenge established legal thought, and that are enlightening to our students,” Ross said. “At the same time, we try to make sure we explore ideas and concepts that are likely to be relevant to guests in their legal careers.”

Plans for the 2011 Third Annual Florida Coastal Law Review Spring Symposium are already in the works, with organizers setting their sights on March 4. Ross said the 2011 program will examine the changes to the American legal landscape since the events of 9/11.

“The goal is to enlighten the audience by critically examining how, a decade later, the events of 9/11 continue to influence American jurisprudence,” he said.

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A conversation with Coastal Law’s Alan Smodic

Alan Smodic

Meet Alan Smodic, Coastal Law’s Web Communications Specialist. Curious about the title? In short, Alan is responsible for expanding and monitoring the school’s online reach and presence. He does this by using various web technologies designed to integrate the school’s brand standards and expand current marketing strategies to a greater audience online. But like the web in general, his position requires a significant amount of versatility. Between creating and distributing online content, he creates ads, designs images and websites, and edits copy.

What is your background?

I am originally from Masontown, Pennsylvania, a small town located next to the West Virginia border. After finishing my degree at the University of Pittsburgh, I moved to Bluffton, South Carolina where I worked as a news reporter and web administrator for two years prior to beginning with Coastal Law. While my schooling is in English, writing and journalism, my passion is in technology and web communications. I created my first website in high school and possess experience in design, online media, marketing and web development.

Why do you think Coastal Law decided to create this position?

I believe Coastal created this position because the web continues to grow each day. More specifically, it’s becoming the primary way people reach out to one another, find information, conduct business and just spend their time. To take advantage of this medium effectively, the same emphasis that print media and prior strategies have received in the past needed to be placed upon it.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

What I enjoy most about the job is the opportunity to do exactly the type of work for which I have a strong passion, while getting to spend each day with an incredible group of people in our department. It is rare to find yourself in such a good situation and it’s something I do not take for granted.

What do you do in your spare time?

When not at work, you can usually find me in my home office doing much of the same stuff — building websites, thinking of crazy projects to start, blogging and playing with social media. If I’m not doing that, I’m probably watching a Pittsburgh sports team win another championship, playing NHL 11 on PS3 or running with my dog, Butterscotch, at any local park.

What’s next for Coastal?

Everyone here at the school is already doing so many great things to advance the Coastal Law name, so it’s on our department to make that known. Whether it’s by our increased efforts in social media, development of an in-house blogging network or mobile applications, the ultimate goal is to find new and creative ways to speak of our successes and improve upon our shortcomings. I wouldn’t want to reveal all my secrets and plans, but the online space provides us the opportunity to do things we haven’t done before, and it’s in our best interest to take full advantage of the medium. I think, in the future, as we continue to integrate our communications projects, you’ll begin to see many more added benefits to everyone involved with the school — faculty, staff, students, prospective students, alumni and the general public. It’s really a concerted effort to provide outreach for everyone who seeks it.

FYI: Since joining the team in March 2010, Coastal Law’s official Facebook page has gained more than 500 followers and is beginning to serve as a main conversation piece between the school and its many audiences.

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One good burn deserves another

By Ericka Curran, Assistant Professor of Professional Skills

The phone rang. I cringed as I answered.

“Oh please don’t cancel on us tonight,” I hoped, knowing we had taken four extra clients because I thought we had the extra help.

At 6 p.m., I dreaded who might be on the line. Reluctantly, I took the call.

“I won’t be able to make it to your pro bono event tonight after all,” the attorney, a would-be volunteer, said. “Something came up. Maybe next time. I do really enjoy it.”

The event started at 6:30. I peered from my window and saw the line of clients clutching paperwork in their hands.

“They’ve been waiting weeks for this chance to get some legal advice,” I thought. “Down one attorney either means an extra hour for the other volunteers, or we turn people away who are counting on our help.”

The choice was already made.

I dug into my purse for money to buy pizza for our team. Shorthanded, we were going to need extra food. I was grateful for the attorneys who are already streaming in, rolling up their sleeves and getting ready to work. However, I realize even when no one cancels there’s never enough help.


The next call came in. This time it was a student volunteer.

“Hi. Yeah. I am not going to be able to come tonight because it turns out I actually have a paper due and I’m not finished,” the student said.

I take note: Take that student off the list. I was angry, stressed, disappointed. But inside, I knew I was that law student, only maybe worse …

I remember my own shameful phone call to my legal aid supervisor when I was an intern:

“I am so sorry, but it turns out I got tickets to the Alanis Morissette concert and I am not going to be able to come in this Friday,” I said excitedly, with maybe a touch of embarrassment. “I was so lucky to get those tickets. My boyfriend and I were on hold all day.”

Isn’t it ironic — don’t you think?

And, no, I am not ashamed about my taste in music. I enjoy “One Hand in my Pocket.” I’m not even entirely sure I wouldn’t jump in line for tickets if she mounted a comeback tour today.

I am ashamed I didn’t realize what a huge responsibility and privilege pro bono work really is. I certainly didn’t realize the attorney I was volunteering to assist probably could have worked the case more quickly by herself AND she was taking time out of her schedule to mentor and supervise me on pro bono cases. I even thought of myself as “extra help.”

As a law student and a new attorney doing pro bono work, I often thought I was just doing someone a favor – a “favor” I wasn’t required to do. It was just me “going the extra mile,” and if I chose not to, no big deal. I didnít see myself as being lucky to be getting the training while being able to help someone in need.

Well, you know what they say about payback.

It wasn’t until I had my own gigantic case load at a nonprofit that I realized the errors of my ways. I didn’t understand that when a legal service organization gets an offer of help from a lawyer or a student, they count on that person to actually show up and help. They take on additional cases. They commit to serving additional clients. They invest time in supervising students to train them to do important legal work with clients.

I didn’t understand pro bono clients are real clients — real people.

Many attorneys and law students feel like pro bono is the right thing to do, but maybe only when it’s convenient for them. As lawyers, we are the gate keepers of our legal justice system, and it is our responsibility to ensure that everyone has access to it.

It is not our gift to give the community — really, it’s the other way around. We have a responsibility, and if just one client loses his case because he was unrepresented, then we all lose and the system fails.

As Martin Luther King so eloquently stated:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

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New smartphone tool

The latest Florida Coastal news right at your fingertips!

Features include:

  • Calendar listings of important deadlines and upcoming events
  • On-campus directory of all faculty and staff
  • News about the school and its programs
  • Links to Jacksonville resources like taxis, hospitals, shopping and hotels
  • Image gallery

Download our app today!

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