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Miami Law’s 50th Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning Slated for January 11-15 in Orlando


The 50th Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, sponsored by the University of Miami School of Law, will take place January 11-15 at the Orlando World Center Marriott. The institute is the nation’s largest gathering of estate planning professionals.

Visit www.law.miami.edu/heckerling to view a complete institute brochure, including detailed programming, registration, continuing education, and travel information. For information on exhibitor or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Beth Lawhorn at blawhorn@law.miami.edu.

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Student Sees Real-Life Issues at Homeland Security Internship


By Sydney Towne
Special to UM News

LawInternship

Second-year law student Vincent Calarco, left, spent the summer working for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where Miami Law alumnus Richard Jurgens, right, is assistant chief counsel and legal intern coordinator.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (August 5, 2015)—Second-year student Vincent Calarco understands the power of the law. Prior to beginning his education at Miami Law, Calarco worked as a Social Security disability paralegal at a law firm in New York. His work, building files to present to Social Security, showed him that for his clients, “illness or injury is not a choice; it is a life sentence that these people deal with. My job was to make their lives easier. The work can be daunting, and a case can stretch out over time, but there was no better feeling than getting an approved decision in favor of someone who truly deserved it.”

Those wins fueled Calarco’s desire to pursue a legal career, and he chose Miami Law first and foremost because he felt comfortable here. “It has been welcoming since I attended the admitted students’ weekend.” Most importantly he said, “You can create your own path to become the attorney you set out to be here.”

This summer Calarco took advantage of one of the many opportunities available at the law school by participating in the HOPE Public Interest Resource Center’s Summer Public Interest Fellowship, available to rising second-year law students. The program has two components: taking a class where students meet twice weekly and participating in a practical experience in a public interest field. For Calarco, that meant a summer with the Department of Homeland Security, working specifically with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division.

The placement worked out wonderfully for Calarco, who quickly sat first chair in three cases, representing the department in court, cross-examining witnesses, and making arguments before the judge.

“I was able to become comfortable and find my voice,” said Calarco. “This experience allowed me to learn how to litigate but also gave me the confidence to know that I can litigate effectively.”

He also learned the method behind the enforcement of immigration laws. “The department goes for those who are a real threat, have a criminal record, and continue to be a threat to the public. The mission is not to deport all illegal immigrants, but to deport those who are a threat to our lives.” That mission has led Calarco to collaborate with Catholic Legal Charities in their efforts to help illegal immigrants gain status.

The extent of Calarco’s work this summer and the success of this placement may be in part due to how the department handles summer interns. Richard Jurgens, J.D. ’03, the assistant chief counsel and legal intern coordinator for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said his department pairs each summer intern with a mentor for the summer. “Mentoring gives the student an opportunity to work closely with a particular attorney, and we encourage the student to go to their mentor with any questions they may have,” said Jurgens.

Going forward, Calarco isn’t yet sure what area of law he will practice, but he said his public interest internship was important. “An experience working for the government or in public interest allows students to see firsthand what are some real issues that people are dealing with.”

Jurgens agrees. “The most important aspect of a government or public policy internship for the student is exposure.” But, he adds, it’s not just exposure to clients and issues but “the process and … how the public sector functions in the realm of the law.” An added bonus of a public interest fellowship, Jurgens noted, is that “most attorneys in these fields do not have to do billable hours. I think it allows for attorneys to spend more time teaching the students.”

That extra feedback may just be what made Calarco’s summer so successful and provided him with practical lawyering experience before he even began his second year of law school.

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Neuroscientist Teams Up with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue on Mindfulness Study


Special to UM News

Jha.MDFD

Miami-Dade Fire Chief Dave Downey and UM neuroscientist Amishi Jha

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 13, 2015) – The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department will partner with University of Miami neuroscientist Amishi Jha on an innovative research study to investigate how mindfulness and relaxation training can help firefighters better cope with the high stress and challenging nature of their demanding service.

A recent study by Jha and her colleagues suggests that mindfulness training bolsters cognitive performance in pre-deployment military populations, and may be useful in other high-stress, high-performance cohorts.

“Our program aims to understand if the human attention system can be made stronger and more effective using these training programs,” said Jha, associate professor of psychology and director of Contemplative Neuroscience for the UMindfulness Initiative.

Jha, the lead researcher on the study, is collaborating with Scott Rogers, director of programs and training for the UMindfulness Initiative and of UM Law’s Mindfulness in Law Program. Their previous research found that mindfulness training helps curb mind wandering and improves attention as high-stress undergraduates near exam season. Jha will begin the new project this summer, with Rogers delivering an innovative mindfulness and relaxation training program to Miami-Dade firefighters.

The Jha-fire rescue collaboration is one phase of a larger research project funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, which aims to determine if mindfulness and relaxation training might help protect individuals in high-stress, high-demand careers—an area of interest that is drawing national attention.

“These programs have been found to reduce stress, improve sleep and mood, as well as protect against depression and improve relationships,” Jha said. “Through our work with the military, we’ve also found that mindfulness- and relaxation-based brain fitness programs improves memory, attention, and situational awareness.”

Miami-Dade Fire Chief Dave Downey said, “We know that even though firefighters are strong and resilient, we, too, may suffer from the high pressures and stresses of our daily work.”

Gary Gonzalez, a retired battalion chief for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, has been practicing mindfulness for nearly two years. “There is no question it would have improved my work performance, my leadership and decision-making skills, and my ability to more effectively manage the stress of the job if I had started 20 years ago,” he said. “I wish I was given the opportunity to learn this brain fitness program while I was still working.”

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School of Law’s JoNel Newman Receives Award


JoNel Newman

JoNel Newman

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – UM School of Law’s JoNel Newman, professor of clinical education and director of the Health Rights Clinic, has been selected as the 2015 recipient of the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education’s M. Shanara Gilbert Award.

Newman will be presented the award on May 5 at the Conference on Clinical Legal Education in Rancho Mirage, California.

The M. Shanara Gilbert Award honors an “emerging clinician” with ten or fewer years of experience who has:
– a commitment to teaching and achieving social justice, particularly in the areas of race and the criminal justice system
– a passion for providing legal services and access to justice to individuals and groups most in need
– service to the cause of clinical legal education or to the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education
– an interest in international clinical legal education
– an interest in the beauty of nature (desirable, but not required)

Newman is committed to social justice, creative pedagogical approaches, and to serving marginalized communities in the Miami area and beyond, and her initiatives have focused on the Haitian diaspora, veterans’ rights, pediatric care, and more.

One nominator wrote of the significant contributions of the Health Rights Clinic, noting that students “have served over two thousand vulnerable health-impaired clients …. and have secured over $2 million in entitlements and public benefits for their clients.”

Newman’s students wrote that she “embodies the qualities sought in the recipient of the Shanara Gilbert Award” and her colleagues at Miami Law noted her “extraordinary efforts and contributions to clinical legal education, service, and justice.”

 

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Fredman Family Foundation Gift to Fund Toxins Project

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Fredman Family Foundation Gift to Fund Toxins Project


UM News

The city of Miami confirmed that the soil in several city parks is contaminated, and closed them for cleanup.

The city of Miami confirmed that incinerated ash contaminated the soil in a number of city parks, and temporarily closed them for cleanup.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 31, 2015) – The Environmental Justice Project at the School of Law’s Center for Ethics and Public Service, which was instrumental in uncovering the trail of toxins the city of Miami spread through decades of dumping incinerated ash, has received a generous gift from the Fredman Family Foundation to ensure its ongoing effort in environmental science and public health research.

Founded in 2012, the Environmental Justice Project works to increase awareness and provide support to communities affected by environmental justice issues throughout Miami-Dade County.

“The Center for Ethics and Public Service is enormously grateful to the Fredman Family Foundation for its generous support,” said Anthony A. Alfieri, director of CEPS. “With the help of the foundation, the important work of our Environmental Justice Project will continue through careful community-based investigation and research of the environmental and health consequences of the Old Smokey incinerator for low- and moderate-income communities in Miami and Miami-Dade County.”

Founded in 1996, CEPS is an interdisciplinary program devoted to the values of ethical judgment, professional responsibility, and public service in law and society.

The donation will create the Fredman Family Foundation Environmental Justice Fund and be used to support  EJP’s work in Miami-Dade County and retain experts in environmental science, health and medicine in support of its advocacy, education, research, and policy work.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” By design, environmental justice blends many of the principles from the civil rights and environmental movements to promote the equitable distribution of environmental burdens and benefits regardless of race, income or ethnicity.

 

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