Consumer Law Clinic Successfully Defends Foreclosure Case and Moves for Attorney’s Fees

After four years of litigation, the Consumer Law Clinic won a foreclosure case last month. The judge dismissed Chase’s foreclosure action against our clients finding Chase did not have standing (i.e. did not prove it owned our clients’ loan) when it filed its lawsuit. Since it did not own the loan at the inception of the lawsuit, it was not entitled to sue our clients. Since our clients are now the prevailing party in the lawsuit, the Clinic is entitled to its fees and costs for the four years of litigating the lawsuit. Kudos to Certified Legal Intern Luis Fermin who spent the past year working on this case and arguing at two separate hearings!

Florida Coastal Immigrant Rights Clinic Professor Wins Outstanding Victim Advocate Award

Ericka Curran Victims Rights Outstanding Advocate
Prof. Ericka Curran won an Award from The City of Jacksonville’s Victim Assistance Advisory Council for work the Clinical program has done in the community representing Immigrant Victims of Crime. Prof. Curran mentioned how proud she is of the amazing work Coastal students do with such vulnerable legal clients. Coastal’s Immigrant Rights Clinic represents victims of human trafficking, violent assaults, sexual violence, domestic violence, child abuse and other violent crimes. This year Students provided over 175 immigrant clients with legal representation.

Coastal Law’s Clinical Programs, Serving The Underserved

Rosa and CynthiaCoastal Law has five in house clinical programs. The Clinics are located in Suite 255 of the 8787 Baypine Road Jacksonville Fl 32256 Coastal law building.  The Five Clinics are  listed below:

  • Family Law (Certified Legal Intern)
  • Criminal Defense (Certified Legal Intern)
  • Immigrant Rights
  • Public Benefits and Disability Rights
  • Consumer Law (Certified Legal Intern)

The goal of the program is to serve the needy by teaching students through actual practice. All legal services provided by the clinics are free to the public. Each clinical student enrolled in the program provides direct representation to clients under the supervision of Clinical Faculty/Licensed attorneys.  Students typically take the clinic their 3rd year of law school. This is when students have completed core courses that will be foundational to the live practice experience. 

  Each year Coastal Law Clinics provide thousands of hours of legal services to members of the Jacksonville area community.  Students report that it is an amazing experience and often one of the best in law school. Clients have said that the attention and support they recieve from the students and staff attorneys working on their cases is amazing.  . If you have questions about any of our clinics please do not hesitate to contact us at (904) 680-7782 or stop by and see us ( appointments preferred). . 

Clinic applications still be accepted for certain CLI clinics for summer and fall semester.  Only students with their CLI pending may currently apply.

Hands On Learning—Coastal Grad Kara Roberts’ Story

How the Clinic Changed My Life

 We often think of the Clinics and Skills Labs offered at Florida Coastal School of Law (“FCSL”) from the perspective of how they make a difference in so many lives and generally we are thinking of the clients (as we should!), but I want to take a moment to encourage you to consider it from a different perspective – they can make a difference in your life as well because they certainly made a difference in mine as  a student, as a professional, and just as a person learning who I am and what makes me happy.  I was incredibly lucky that I took a shot and applied for the Immigrant Rights Clinic (“IRC”) in 2007 because it completely changed my life.  Now let me tell you why you should take that same shot.

 Prior to the IRC, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but plenty of ideas of what I did not want to do through past positions, employers, experiences, etc.  My dad told me, “There are three people in life:  one who loves what he does and doesn’t make much money; one who hates what he does and makes lots of money; and a rare individual who loves what he does and makes lots of money doing it.”  Based on my past experiences, I knew I could only be two of those three (and, unfortunately for me, making lots of money would make me a rare individual, but financial planning will be a discussion for another day), so I started wondering ‘what could I love to do in the legal profession?’ For many, this involves anything that leads to making lots of money.  For others, it is impact work through lobbying, academic papers and analysis, etc.  For some, it is the desire to litigate and “go to bat” for the underdog.  And for most, it is some combination of these and many other factors.  Now I just had to figure out what kind of work I would love.

 The IRC started in August 2007; I was one of the lucky first students.  I applied for it because my business law professor from undergrad, Mr. Robert Schupp, encouraged me to get some experience in Immigration law as he felt demand in our area would grow and it would be good experience to have as a new attorney.  I interviewed with Professor Ericka Curran and for some reason she decided to accept me in her class; hopefully she will not regret this.  I got my first few cases and I knew I loved this work.

 I loved everything about the IRC – the clients, the work, the positive impact on the community, the long hours, the late evenings, and knowing I was doing something for someone who had nowhere else to turn.  I was learning how to be a lawyer before I was one; I had the luxury of making mistakes and having them corrected by my professor instead of a partner in a firm, a judge, or an Immigration officer.  I was also completely responsible for my case load; it was real experience with real clients in the real world.  When I needed it, I had the undivided attention of an expert (as with all professors for all of the Clinics).  My professor soon turned into my mentor and I was nothing short of inspired.  I was hungry for more and, lucky for me, more was coming – Professor Curran recommended me to Nancy Hale, Director of the Refugee Immigration Project at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Inc. (“Refugee Project”), for an externship. 

I started as an extern for the Refugee Project in December 2007.  My experiences with the IRC and the Refugee Project simply made me even more dedicated to the immigrant population with unmet needs in our community.  I came on as an Attorney for the Refugee Project in October 2008 and at the end of 2010 my position was threatened due to the effects of the economic downturn.  I decided to try and fundraise to save my job (really the services provided through it as our project simply cannot function with only one attorney) instead of accepting a lay-off so easily because my experience showed me the value of these services and the consequences should I just give up without even trying.  My efforts and those of my supporters paid off and the Refugee Project was able to avoid cutting additional services.  Had I never been in the IRC, this would have never happened; it happened because I figured out what motivates me, what I care about, and what makes me happy –  and I did this by participating in the IRC.

 So, what does this have to do with you? The point I am trying to make is that experience is what will make all the difference in your life because that is the only way you can answer the questions that form your goals.  The Clinics, the Skills Labs, Externships, Internships, Moot Court, Mock Trial, Law Review, etc. – these are all tools at your disposal at FCSL to get you experience before you become an attorney and any of them are just as excellent for experience as the others.  Personally, I was better in the IRC than my attempts at trying out for Moot Court because I was never terribly good at role-playing, but the moment I had an actual client in front of me, there was no stopping me; this is why trying any and all of those “tools” is the best recommendation I can give you – you need experience to be a more attractive candidate for any position and you need to know yourself to be successful at anything (do I learn better through live experience and/or role-playing? Do I enjoy helping others? Is compensation the only motivator for me? Will doing this or that really make me happy? – and there is no right answer, just the honest answers that help you make better decisions).  The greatest disservice you can do to yourself is to not take advantage of these opportunities for experience while you are in school – know who you are and what you want to do before you go into the real world. 

 I strongly encourage you to apply for the Clinics because I guarantee that experience will change your life either by helping you really find yourself and your passion or by allowing you to better understand what kind of work you really want to do (and you work under some pretty amazing attorneys there).  I strongly encourage you to apply for any and all skills labs you can – especially the Naturalization Skills Lab offered in the Spring semester because it sounds like an opportunity for some great experience and some fun (hint, hint – and there is yet another way the IRC changed my life). 

In all seriousness, I hope you decide to apply for the Clinics, I hope it changes your life as well, and I hope that through those experiences you find what I found before graduation – my passion, my purpose, and myself. 

 

Naturalization Law Skills Lab’s Citizenship Day Huge Success

This year’s Citizenship Day at Coastal was held on Saturday April 13th and attracted a record number of applicants to become naturalized U.S. citizens from the Jacksonville community. The event was put on by the Coastal Law Naturalization Skills Lab, taught by Professor Kara Roberts, and her students Christopher Castro, Christina Chavez, John Finland, Alberto Lugo, Samantha Pyatt, Sandra Alvarado Sanchez, and Chantel Simon. After learning the substantive law of naturalization, the students applied it by pre-screening and counseling many applicants, holding community outreach to explain the law to potential applicants and volunteers, assisting applicants with their applications and planning and successfully holding this annual event initiated by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”). Volunteering at the event this year were many Coastal students, faculty and staff, as well as attorneys from the Jacksonville area, interpreters from a local non-profit agency and church volunteers. The community came out in great number and expressed gratitude for this life changing event put on by Florida Coastal School of Law. Thank you to all who gave of their time to this event.

Immigrant Rights Clinic Honors and Remembers Carlos J. Martin

Coastal Graduate and Clinical Teaching Fellow, Carlos J. Martin passed away suddenly this month. Carlos was an amazing advocate, teacher and mentor.  Carlos was a student in the clinic in 2009/2010 and became our staff attorney/Clinical teaching fellow in 2010.  He supervised students working on Immigration cases and provided direct representation numerous immigrant families.   Carlos was kind, dedicated and an inspiration to so many. We are deeply saddened and shocked by this loss. We will miss you Carlos.

 

USAO Externships Fall 2013–APPLICATION DEADLINE MAY 13!

The Office of the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida is soliciting applications for fall 2013 externships. This credit-bearing externship is a great way to gain practical experience.
Information regarding this opportunity that you must read carefully has been emailed to all students and is posted on Symplicity. The externship is open to students who will have completed all of the first year course requirements by the end of summer 2013. U.S. citizenship is required. CLI is not required.

The deadline for applying online for this externship is Friday, May 3, 2013.
Interested students should submit the following documents:

U.S. Attorney Pre-Interview questionnaire form (copy emailed to students and on Symplicity);
Resume;
FCSL transcript (unofficial is OK);
Writing Sample;
Cover letter expressing why you want this placement addressed to:
Ms. Judith Hoberman
Human Resources Specialist
Office of the United States Attorney, Middle District of Florida
400 N. Tampa Street, suite 3200
Tampa, FL 33602

All of the above should be e-mailed to the following address:

usaflm.law.intern@usdoj.gov

You cannot submit these materials by mail or on Symplicity. They must be directly e-mailed to usaflm.law.intern@usdoj.gov before the May 3 deadline. Please send a courtesy copy (“cc”) of your e-mail to ahammond@fcsl.edu if you plan to earn externship credit.

If you have any questions, please contact Professor Hammond.

Court sets record number of foreclosure cases for trial

In an effort to reduce the number of foreclosure cases on the docket, the Duval County court recently set thousands of foreclosure cases for trial in the month of April.  Approximately 50 cases have been set every hour for two hours every morning.  Needless to say, this has kept the Consumer Law Clinic hopping since half of its cases are foreclosure cases.  Some of our cases have been set for trial and some have not.  For the cases that are going to trial unexpectedly, it is a great experience for the students to get some trial experience before the end of the semester.  This summer promises to be an action packed summer in the Consumer Law Clinic as well.  We have a full case load of foreclosure, debt collection, and bankruptcy cases.

Alimony Changes May be on the Horizon

It is an exciting time to be practicing in the area of family law.  Florida’s laws relating to family law have changed tremendously in the past few years including substantial changes to time-sharing (including an elimination of the presumption against a 50/50 split), child support (including creating a lower gross up to begin at twenty percent overnights), the elimination of “special equity” substituting it with an unequal distribution claim, and statutory changes to alimony codifying case law presumptions of what is a long term and short term marriage.

Change is, again, in the wind.  Alimony reform and other proposed legislation has made it through various committees in both the House and Senate in Florida’s legislature.  This new proposed law, if passed, will have dramatic effect on current alimony cases, and, more importantly, on prior alimony cases. The Senate Bill, as currently written, allows the proposed new law to apply retroactively to prior alimony awards.

The proposed law would also provides that equal time sharing with a minor child by both parents is “in the best interest of the child” unless the court makes specific findings otherwise, specifically considering seven factors.

If you are interested in the family law clinic over the next year you could be involved directly in the implementation of sweeping changes in the alimony and custody world.

More to come in Professor Sullivan’s blog later this week!