Distinguished Alumnus Establishes Generous Scholarship Fund

Distinguished Alumnus Establishes Generous Scholarship Fund

The iconic U statue on the University of Miami Coral Gables campus.
The iconic U statue on the University of Miami Coral Gables campus.

“I truly thought I had zero chance of getting accepted to Miami Law,” begins the Honorable Richard V. Margolius, aka Ric Zweig, J.D. ’73. At the time, Margolius had been attending Ithaca College in New York while actively working as a booking agent in the post-Woodstock musical scene. “I was making good money as a booking agent,” he shares, “and I was far from a ‘fastidious student,’ if you know what I mean. I believe my cumulative average was around a 2.2. A graduate degree was probably one of the furthest things from my mind.”

Fortunately, those close to Margolius all saw a more fantastic future for him. Friends of his would often tell him he would make a great lawyer because of his ability to discuss or argue a particular subject intelligently. A trusted professor, Robert Kurlander, convinced the young Margolius to at least apply to law school. “To call my application adventurous would be an understatement,” Margolius recalls. “It was already late into the summer, July or August, and most applicants had already been accepted and made their decisions. There were very few spaces left anywhere that late in the game.”

Margolius says he felt compelled to apply to law school anyway because no one had ever encouraged him to pursue such a lofty goal. He chose not to live his entire life wondering, “What if.” When the School of Law responded with an acceptance just a few weeks later, he didn’t initially believe it. “In fact, I even called to verify,” he says, “because surely it must have been a mistake.” It wasn’t a mistake, of course, and he moved down to Miami without a place to live and only a little bit of savings and the funding from his GI bill.

Throughout the rest of his studies and into his professional life, the hand of fate kept working in his favor. From the kind Ms. Osman, who rented him an apartment for $40 a month instead of the advertised $100, provided he would also cut the grass, to the Honorable Gerald Wetherington, who was a professor with Miami Law at the time and would prove instrumental in Margolius earning his degree.

“Gerald Wetherington wasn’t even one of my professors, but he stepped up for me at a time when I needed someone the most,” Margolius explains. “There I was, only a week or two from graduation. My family had already made travel arrangements to come down. Then I find out I’m not going to pass a required course because a paper I had turned in had gone missing. I believe I was sitting in the hallway on the floor when Wetherington noticed me. I can only imagine how forlorn I must have looked. He came with me to the professor of the class and negotiated that I could take an exam in lieu of the paper.” He passed and graduated, but Margolius never forgot that simple act of kindness, and it was all the more meaningful when Wetherington swore Margolius in as a circuit court judge.

“And those were just a few of the legal greats I had the honor of being surrounded by in the Miami Law program,” he continues. “Phillip Hubbart and Bruce Rogow were giants and true champions of the ideals that made me interested in law.”

In the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s office, Margolius would work under Hubbart and his successor, Bennett H. Brummer. From there, he would meet other prominent members of the Miami legal community, including Judge Manny Crespo, Osvaldo Soto, Jose A. Villalobos, and “countless others” who would continue pushing Margolius toward more opportunities and achievements. Margolius reflects on all of it fondly.

“Without everyone who has been in my corner over all these years, my life would look very different. I would never have considered a judgeship, nor would I have spent so many wonderful years in the courtroom, or on the bench [Margolius was part of more than 500 jury trial cases in his career].”

Since his retirement in 2001, Margolius has returned to one of his first passions, music, donning a new name, Ric Zweig (his mother’s maiden name) to go with the new career. To date, his time as a singer/songwriter/guitarist has yielded six albums with the rock band Fresh Air and several solo endeavors, including 10 YouTube videos, and he’s still performing.

Not bad for a guy who almost got kicked out of college in the late ’60s for having a girl (his fiancée at the time) in his dorm room. He says he never would have guessed how the stars would align in those days.

As for his generous gift to Miami Law, Margolius offers the following:

“Even if I had never graduated, I would still be indebted to the University of Miami for all it has given to me. I’ve done well in all aspects of life, and it’s all because of UM.”

The testamentary gift will create an endowed scholarship fund designated the Richard V. Margolius, aka Ric Zweig Endowed Law Scholarship. He hopes that by providing a means to afford a Miami Law education, others will have the chance to chase the tremendous opportunities he has been fortunate to encounter. He also would love to see scholarships awarded to students like himself, those with a background or interest in music, those who would like to pursue careers in the judiciary or legal services, and those seeking to pursue music or entertainment law.

Visit Miami Law Magazine homepage