SCHOOL OF THOUGHT
Starting with a graduating class of just 14 students almost 90 years ago, the University of Miami School of Law has grown to become one of the leading law schools in the United States. Over 20,000 of its living alumni around the world attest to the excellence of the education they received.
Since becoming Dean in 2009, Professor Patricia White has taken the school in an innovative direction. “I was determined we would anticipate changes and lead the pack in terms of preparing students for a changing world,” says the Dean. To this end, the school established initiatives such as LawWithoutWalls, which teams students with professional mentors to tackle problems in legal education or practice. And, in 2012, Professor A. Michael Froomkin founded the annual We Robot conference, which brings together topics at the intersection of law, policy and robotics technology.
Another smart move was partnering with UnitedLex, a leader in legal and business solutions, to create MiamiLex as a response to students’ need to be “practice ready” in an increasingly tough jobs market. Graduates can join UnitedLex’s Legal Residency Program, which offers the chance to acquire contemporary legal skills such as litigation management, cyber security and immigration law.
“This model has led to similar arrangements being set up with other law schools,” says the Dean. “It’s yet another example of us leading the way in innovation.” The school’s Startup Practicum, meanwhile, allows students to help entrepreneur clients with legal issues as they launch their business.
The law school also offers courses that combine law with disciplines such as programming, legal informatics and big data. It runs unique LLM Master of Laws programmes in entertainment, arts and sports law, taxation of cross-border investment, estate planning, real estate development, international arbitration and maritime law. In addition, its short-course programmes – not available in other schools – deliver compressed courses to students across a wide range of subject areas. The Dean’s contribution to innovation was recognised when she was named the most influential woman in legal education by The National Jurist in 2012.
The school will continue to be “nimble” in providing mandatory core law courses, says the Dean, while exposing students to other disciplines and skills. “All these huge social problems we’re facing have legal aspects,” she says, “so we want to train people both to recognise them and to use their various educational tools to make a contribution towards solving them.”