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Senate Taps Two Faculty for Top Honors

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 3, 2015) — The Faculty Senate has unanimously voted to honor School of Law Professor Richard L. Williamson with the James W. McLamore Outstanding Service Award and, for the first time, to bestow a Special Faculty Senate Award posthumously, honoring the life and work of Eckhard Podack, a distinguished cancer researcher and educator at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center who passed away October 8.

The awards, which will be presented at the 2016 Faculty Senate Awards Ceremony next spring, are among the University’s highest honors. Williamson, who is known for his gift for mentoring and his devotion to pro bono and community service, is being recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty to the University and community, a hallmark of his life.

Podack, who chaired the Miller School’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology for 21 years, will be honored with the Special Faculty Senate Award for his dedication to teaching and the huge impact his discoveries have had on improving treatment for cancer patients. Faculty Senate Chair Tomas Salerno, professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, announced the award, which the Senate has bestowed only 12 times and never before posthumously, at Podack’s November 21 memorial service. Nearly 300 colleagues, friends, family, and admirers from around the world attended the service in the Shalala Student Center.


Richard L. Williamson

For more than 20 years, Williamson, the former associate dean of the School of Law, interim chair of the Department of International Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, and chair of the Faculty Senate from 2009-2014, has been faculty advisor to the School of Law’s Honor Council.

A former foreign service officer and division chief of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, he has used his extensive international experience to establish international liaisons between Miami Law and numerous international universities. Intended to be short-term, the initial intensive exchange seminar he organized between Leipzig University and UM is in its 14th year, and has led to the establishment of 17 semester-long exchange programs on four continents.

A treasured mentor to students here and abroad, Williamson also has employed his legal skills to advance the environment and international understanding. He drafted the founding documents and policy statements for UM’s Jayne and Leonard Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, and has hosted foreign high school students through Rotary International, for which he is a frequent speaker. The Rotary Club has recognized his selfless contributions by naming him a Paul Harris Fellow, an honor usually reserved for members.

As a member of the Opa-locka Brownfields Advisory Committee and chair of its Legal Sub-Committee, Williamson drafted policy documents and recommendations to help the community more efficiently utilize abandoned and contaminated property holdings. Through his efforts, Opa-locka was selected as one of the EPA’s showcase cities and received additional funding for assessing the use of brownfields to be used for green space purposes.

Eckhardt Podack

Eckhard Podack

Podack, a giant in the field of cancer research who was widely respected around the world for his pioneering laboratory studies, made a series of discoveries that ultimately will extend or save the lives of many others.

Perhaps the most significant were the discoveries of Perforin-1 and, more recently, Perforin-2 — antibacterial proteins that help the body’s immune system defend against infectious disease. One of Podack’s last published studies, “Perforin-2 is essential for intracellular defense of parenchymal cells and phagocytes against pathogenic bacteria,” appeared online September 24 in the eLife Sciences Journal. It is one of more than 305 professional articles, books, and monographs Podack wrote or contributed to over his career.

A native of Germany and a fellow in the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy who became interested in cancer research at an early age, Podack joined the Miller School in 1987 and became department chair in 1994. In the early 1990s, he created a monoclonal antibody to seek out and attach to CD-30, a receptor on lymphoma cells. He later sold the technology to Seattle Genetics, which developed SGN-35, a therapy designed to target only cancer cells, leaving healthy tissue alone.

He also developed a novel lung cancer vaccine using gp-96, a heat shock protein, to treat non-small cell lung cancer, which accounts for most lung cancers, as well as tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) 25 agonists and antagonists that allow the immune system to attack cancer cells more effectively.

In order to translate his discoveries into clinical treatments, Podack launched Heat Biologics in 2008 to develop “ImPACT” (Immune Pan-Antigen Cytotoxic Therapy), a proprietary cell-based immunotherapy for use in the treatment of a wide range of cancers. Heat Biologics completed a successful initial public offering in 2013 and continues to develop its leading-edge therapy.

All members of the University community are invited to attend the Faculty Senate Awards ceremony, which also will include the awarding of the Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award and the Outstanding Teaching Award on April 11, 2016, at 5 p.m. in Storer Auditorium at the School of Business Administration.


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Alumni, Associate Dean Honored by Hispanic Bar Association

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (November 13, 2015) – Three attorneys with connections to the University of Miami were recognized Thursday evening during a regional celebration of the Hispanic National Bar Association.

Held at the Biltmore and attended by more than 150 people, the HNBA was celebrating Florida’s National HNBA Leaders, who were originally recognized during the association’s annual convention in Boston in September.

Wifredo Ferrer, A.B. ’87, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, was presented the 2015 Latino Lawyer of the Year Award during the Boston event.

Raquel Matas, associate dean for administration at the School of Law and counsel to the dean, was recognized for her role with the HNBA as National VP of External Affairs.

And Martha R. Mora, A.B. ’00, a commissioner of the HNBA Latina Commission, was recognized with the 2015 HNBA Region VIII Distinguished Services Award.

The School of Law’s Hispanic Law Student Association also was recognized as the 2015 National Law Student Organization of the Year.

The Hispanic National Bar Association was founded in 1972 and represents Hispanic legal professionals in the U.S. and its territories.

At Thursday’s event, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Beatrice “Betty” Butchko made the presentations.

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Miami Law Alumnus Named Microsoft General Counsel


Miami Law Alumnus Named Microsoft General Counsel

By Mary Lynn Lyke
Special to UM News

Horacio Gutierrez 2013

Horacio Gutierrez

CORAL GABLES. Fla. (November 10,2015)—Microsoft Corporation has elevated Miami Law alumnus Horacio Gutierrez to the post of general counsel. Gutierrez, who joined the leading tech company after earning his J.D. from the University of Miami in 1998, has served as Microsoft’s corporate vice president and deputy general counsel since 2006. As general counsel, he will head Microsoft’s large team of legal, regulatory, and corporate affairs professionals throughout the globe.

Robert T. Maldonado, national president of the Hispanic National Bar Association, called Gutierrez “a role model to Latino law students and lawyers across the country.”

When he came to the University of Miami School of Law, Gutierrez already had three legal degrees. He was also a full-time international consultant for a Miami law firm. But the native Venezuelan needed a J.D. degree before he could sit for the state bar, so he signed onto an exhausting schedule at Miami Law.

He studied at night, on weekends, in the summer, working full time, helping raise his family, and graduating summa cum laude. “Were it not for the understanding that the dean of the law school and the dean of students had of my situation, the flexibility they showed, the mentorship they offered me to be able to navigate the requirements, I may not have gone to law school and attained a J.D. anywhere in the U.S.,” said Gutierrez, a distinguished 50-year-old who speaks with a light Latin American lilt, his hands emphasizing his words.

Since 2006 he has held the influential role of corporate vice president and deputy general counsel in charge of Microsoft’s worldwide intellectual property group, responsible for protecting, developing, and maintaining a massive portfolio of more than 37,000 patented innovations. In this role, Gutierrez waged and won his share of fierce legal battles protecting Microsoft’s patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. It’s a Herculean task at a company that invests more than $10 billion a year on research and development innovations.

But he became best known for his skills as a savvy deal-maker, an IP boss whose Microsoft team would rather negotiate than litigate, cutting headline-grabbing licensing agreements with the Novells, Nokias, and Samsungs of the high-tech world.

Licensing agreements allow companies to use intellectual property rights as a kind of currency to trade with one another and make deals in a “business-like manner,” outside courts, said Gutierrez.

Bartering IP rights is a new way of doing business in an era of rapid-fire technological advances. It speeds products to market faster and spurs innovation, said Gutierrez. Several decades ago, a company might have created every component of its products in-house. Today, a single product from a company can have patented components from hundreds of companies.

Gutierrez points to the smartphone, which contains what might have been dozens of devices a decade ago. It’s a phone, a digital music player, a GPS device, a high-definition camera, and video recorder. Apply a software-enabled app and it can be almost anything: flashlight, star-finder, Scrabble board, drawing tablet. All those separate components are developed by separate companies with separate patents, linked through a 21st-century labyrinth of licensing.

“When you get any consumer electronics product in your house—a television set, a stereo—you pull it out, unwrap it, plug it into the wall, and you start using it. You can feel it, see it, touch it. What you don’t see is the intricate web of intellectual property licensing arrangements that preceded the purchase of the device by you and existed among dozens of Asian, European, and U.S. companies,” said the Miami Law alumnus, who was named the No. 1 most influential global IP market maker by the Intellectual Asset Management Report.

Along with a reputation for making deals, Gutierrez, who was the Hispanic National Bar Association Region XVI President for Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington from 2012 to 2014, has earned a reputation for making a difference in his field. He founded the groundbreaking HNBA/Microsoft Intellectual Property Law Institute, a week-long program that introduces Latino law students to the profession and its practitioners. The goal is to boost what he describes as the “severely” low number of Hispanics practicing IP law.

“The HNBA is proud that such an active and committed member of the HNBA family continues to rise through the ranks of the corporate legal and tech community,” said Maldonado. “We commend Horacio not only for his professional achievements, but also for his dedication to advancing the cause of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.”

Gutierrez grew up a lawyer’s son in Maracaibo, Venezuela. At the age of 16, he talked his parents into letting him move to the capital of Caracas to study law at the prestigious Universidad Católica Andrés Bello; on summer break, he enrolled in his first software coding class and “fell in love.”

At the Caracas university, he earned two degrees: a bachelor of laws degree and a specialization diploma in corporate and commercial law. Degree No. 3 brought him to America for studies as a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard Law School. He earned his LL.M. there in 1991.

Studying for his fourth degree at Miami Law, Gutierrez, who’d come from a civil law background in Venezuela, immersed himself in the U.S. common law system, taking foundational courses in constitutional law, contracts, torts, and other building blocks of the American legal system. He weighed the two systems, studying differences and commonalities. “For me, every class was an exercise in comparative law.”

He describes the environment at Miami Law as encouraging and supportive. Over the course of his studies, his professors became his mentors and his friends. Many remain so today. “That experience is unlike anything I had anywhere else,” said Gutierrez, who has also served as adjunct lecturer at the school and in 2013 was named Lawyer for the Americas by the school’s Inter-American Law Review.

Gutierrez had just graduated from Miami Law when Microsoft started calling. He signed on in 1998 as lead attorney for corporate and commercial legal matters in most of Latin America and the Caribbean. The software giant’s “cutting-edge legal opportunities” have immersed him in everything from international contracts to cross-border counterfeiting, government surveillance, telecommunications, and privacy rights. Before taking the IP lead, he had a four-year stint in Paris as associate general counsel for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. More recently he had taken on a new leadership role as corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Microsoft’s products and services group.

A year before his promotion to general counsel was announced this November 6, the keen legal scholar told Miami Law Magazine he was ready for whatever came next. “No one at Microsoft has put a limitation on what I am expected to do,” he said. “And I certainly haven’t put one of myself.”

An earlier version of this article originally appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of Miami Law Magazine.



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Miami Law to Provide Free Advice to Startups


Miami Law to Provide Free Advice to Startups


Daniel B. Ravicher

Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (November 3, 2015) – Miami Law will begin providing free legal services to entrepreneurs in January to help support South Florida’s booming entrepreneurship community. Through the Larry Hoffman|Greenberg Traurig Startup Law Practicum, law students will help young businesses and organizations with a wide range of legal issues, including organizing, financing, talent, intellectual property, risk, and regulation.

The practicum’s director, Daniel B. Ravicher, an attorney who has represented startups since the dot-com boom in the late 1990s, will supervise the students. Ravicher has helped entrepreneurs with a variety of legal matters and also advised investors in startup companies. An entrepreneur himself, he has formed businesses in various sectors, and was named one of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs by the Echoing Green Foundation.

“We at the University of Miami School of Law are excited about South Florida’s quick ascent to becoming a leading center of entrepreneurial activity,” said Ravicher. “We want to help the community by providing free legal services to those very early-stage entrepreneurs who otherwise would not be able to get the legal assistance they need.”

Miami Law students will assist clients with a number of legal issues, including selecting and forming a business entity, such as LLC or C-corp, evaluating, negotiating, and documenting financing transactions, both equity and debt, and drafting independent contractor, employee, joint venture, and other agreements. They also will assist in protecting intellectual property, including applying for patents and trademarks, and drafting Terms of Service and Privacy Policies for websites and apps. For more information about Miami Law’s Startup Law Practicum, including how to apply for services, visit www.law.miami.edu/startup.

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Portes Elected to National Academy of Education


Portes Elected to National Academy of Education

Special to UM News

Alejandro Portes, professor of sociology and law at the University of Miami and professor emeritus at Princeton University, was inducted into the National Academy of Education in Washington D.C. this past weekend.

One of sixteen elected to the highly prestigious organization on the basis of outstanding scholarship, Portes is the author of 250 articles and chapters on national development, international migration, Latin American and Caribbean urbanization, and economic sociology. He has published nearly 40 books and special issues. His books include City on the Edge – the Transformation of Miami (California 1993), co-authored with Alex Stepick and winner of the Robert Park Award for best book in urban sociology and the Anthony Leeds Award for best book in urban anthropology in 1995; and Immigrant America: A Portrait, 3rd edition, (California 2006), designated as a Centennial Publication by the University of California Press in 1996.

His current research is on the adaptation process of the immigrant second generation in comparative perspective, the role of institutions on national development, and immigration and the American health system.

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