Brighter Horizons: The Future of Miami Law

Brighter Horizons: The Future of Miami Law

The Hilarie Bass Bricks at University of Miami School of Law
The Hilarie Bass Bricks at University of Miami School of Law

“The University of Miami has come a long way since ‘Sunshine U’ a few decades ago,” said Aaron Podhurst, the honorary chair of the School of Law’s fundraising committee. Together with vice chairs, Peter Prieto, J.D. ’85; Carolyn B. Lamm, J.D. ’73; and Harley Tropin, J.D. ’77, the committee is helping Miami Law move forward on its goals of the Ever Brighter Campaign.

“What started as a higher education destination for students in Miami and the State of Florida has now become the university of choice for students and faculty from all over the country and across the globe.” He ticks off the many elements of the university that are now considered the best in the world: the Bascom Palmer Institute, the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Frost School of Music, the School of Architecture, and the Miller School of Medicine are all recognized as leaders and innovators in their field. “The law school and other programs are poised to do the same. That’s what this campaign is about,” he said.

Podhurst has been involved with the University of Miami for nearly 20 years and currently serves on the Board of Trustees. He has been proud to see the university rise in acclaim by continuing to achieve on state and national levels. Though he is a graduate of Columbia Law, his firm, Podhurst Orseck, has four partners and several associates who are Miami Law graduates.

He is quick to point out that his firm is not alone in that regard. “The truth is that the top members of each graduating class have become extremely successful in whatever they have chosen to pursue, both in South Florida and beyond.” He goes on to list presidents of the American Bar Association, partners for global business and criminal defense firms, and critical leadership at major companies such as Lennar, Dacra, Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, and others. “My own grandson is a Miami Law graduate and is now clerking for a federal judge,” he said. “This is a top-quality education that is creating and shaping the leaders of tomorrow. Our distinguished alumni are proof of that.”

Ever Brighter is designed to continue the pursuit of that kind of leadership by providing resources to attract the best and brightest students and faculty from around the world. Podhurst said, “It is crucial that we fund scholarships to the fullest extent possible. We want to be able to take any student on merit, simply because we can. That is how we can make sure the top candidates in the country can and will choose Miami Law. It’s the character of the students that make the law school what it is.”

However, the campaign isn’t simply about money. It’s about involvement, excitement, and participation from the university’s alumni, community, and friends. As every degree track gains prominence and recognition, interest grows, as does support. Each year the university welcomes approximately 2,250 new first-year students. For the past few years, there have been close to 55,000 applicants.

The more we invest in the university, the more we’ll be able to accomplish on behalf of our students and the entire community we serve.

For Ever Brighter specifically, the law school’s fundraising committee focuses on several initiatives, all aimed at increasing the school’s stature, enhancing the student experience, and readying the next generation of lawyers to address society’s challenges. The moot court program is among the top 20 in the country and on the rise. Miami Law’s various clinics and practicums assist in issues ranging from bankruptcy, business, and investor rights to child welfare, housing, and human rights. Students in these programs are given the opportunity to advocate on actual cases and learn how to problem solve and work with clients in real-world conditions. Ever Brighter seeks to expand and enrich these programs while pioneering others like them.

The campaign also seeks to build stronger ties to the community so that students may benefit from the involvement of practicing attorneys, legal professionals, businesses, and leaders in local, regional, and national government, whether as visiting professors, guest lecturers, adjunct professors, or part of the Miami Law network. “Truly, the connections made through affiliation with Miami Law are as meaningful and important as any professional relationship. We must keep working to ensure that graduating Miami Law is a mark of distinction in every field.”

To that end, the chairman points out that Ever Brighter isn’t simply a local fundraising campaign but a global one. “There are three great cities in the U.S.,” he said. “The global opinion says New York, Los Angeles, and Miami are where everything is happening right now. The University of Miami has the chance to be the city’s landmark destination for education and the advancement of all areas of law. However, as a private university, we must generate support from the inside out. The whole world is looking to Miami right now, why shouldn’t they also be looking to the University of Miami as well?”

As the Ever Brighter campaign continues in its public fundraising phase, Miami Law is ready to leverage its great start into exciting results. “The university already has a fine board, administration, and president,” Podhurst said, “and our new dean at the law school, David Yellen, is an esteemed legal scholar who has tremendous vision for what comes next.”