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Quick Facts

2014 - Year the department and college will host the American Mock Trial Association's National Championship Mock Trial Tournament in Orlando (on April 11-13, 2014)

~40% - Percentage of legal studies graduates accepted into law school within two years following graduation (about 38% actually matriculate)

~850 - Number of legal studies majors in fall 2012, making the program one of the largest of its kind in the country, with approximately 40 substantive law classes from which to chose

9 - Number of books under contract or published by just two legal studies faculty members (Beckman and Bast) in the last nine years

Recent Publications



Foundations of Legal Research & Writing, 5th Edition

By Carol M. Bast and Margie Hawkins
more
Cover of Foundations of Law book

Foundations of Law: Cases, Commentary and Ethics, 5th Edition
By Ransford C. Pyle and Carol M. Bast
more
The Department of Legal Studies at UCF The College of Health and Public Affairs is a global leader in creating positive community change The Mock Trial Team The Department of Legal Studies at UCF

 

Mission Statement

The Department of Legal Studies at the University of Central Florida provides excellence in teaching, research and service related to the law and legal community. Dedicated to its students, the faculty delivers outstanding instruction at the undergraduate level, incorporating learning, service and inquiry. By actively developing meaningful partnerships, it provides exemplary service to the university and the broader professional and academic community.

Legal Studies Events Calendar

Featured News Stories

Department to Host National Mock Trial Tournament this week

 

4/9/14

Courtroom 23Excitement is mounting for dozens of college students from across the country as they descend on Orlando this week for the American Mock Trial Association's 2014 National Championship Tournament.

They're heading to Orlando because the University of Central Florida is hosting the competition.

UCF's Department of Legal Studies will host the national tournament April 11-13 at the Orange County Courthouse. The event will bring together the nation's top undergraduate mock trial teams to compete in a simulated trial. Families of participating students may attend.

Local television station WKMG will provide live streaming of the final round, and Phipps Reporting will provide live streaming of a transcript. To view the live streams, visit www.trialteamucf.com/final-championship-round.html. For the complete tournament schedule, visit www.trialteamucf.com/national-championship-tournament.html.

Read the full story

FSU Law and UCF Lower Cost of Degree With 3+3 Program

 

3/6/14
FSU law students FSU law student and UCF alumna
Students at FSU College of Law (Images courtesy of FSU video at http://fla.st/1cBR6lW) UCF alumna Raiza Leal (B.S., legal studies, '06) is an FSU law student

The Florida State University College of Law will begin accepting applications for fall 2015 admission from college juniors at the University of Central Florida as part of a new 3+3 program. Under the recently approved program, students who meet certain admission requirements can complete a bachelor’s degree and a law degree in six years rather than the traditional seven, saving a year of time and costs.

“I am delighted that President Hitt has approved our new relationship with UCF’s outstanding academic programs,” said FSU Law Dean Don Weidner. “In short, under this program, the first year of law school is double-counted: that is, it is credited both to the law degree and to the undergraduate degree. The result is that students and/or their families save the entire cost of the fourth year of college.”


Florida State has a similar arrangement for its own students. This is the first 3+3 program between the FSU College of Law and another university.

“Our partnership with one of the nation’s top law schools will enable students to receive a first-class education, save an entire year of the cost of college and begin their law careers a year earlier,” said Elliot Vittes, UCF’s interim vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies. “We encourage interested students with majors from around the university to consider this opportunity.”

UCF’s Office of Pre-Health and Pre-Law Advising will have more information available about the new partnership later this spring and may be contacted at 407-823-3033.

To learn more about the 3+3 law school admission requirements, interested students also can contact the FSU Law Office of Admissions at 850-644-3787 or admissions@law.fsu.edu.

Partnership to Bring Center For Justice and Ethics to UCF

 

2/26/14

The Burnett Honors College and the College of Health and Public Affairs are collaborating to build a Center for Justice and Ethics, reported the Central Florida Future. Private funding is being collected for the $3.5-million project that will feature a courtroom, classrooms, conference room and additional faculty offices.

Read more

Beckman to Serve as Judge in Theatrical Trial

 

2/6/14



Department Chair James Beckman will return to the Orlando Shakespeare Theater on Feb. 25 to serve as a judge in an annual mock trial of a fictional character. This year's character is Nicholas Nickleby from Charles Dickens' The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.

Beckman will be the chief judge on a five-member panel of judges composed of prominent attorneys and other professionals from Central Florida.

"During the trial, we can ask questions of the participants, who are the actual actors in the theater's current production of Nicholas Nickleby," Beckman said. "At the end of the trial, each of the judges issues a three-to-five minute ruling on how the case should be decided."

As chief judge, Beckman will handle any objections or courtroom outbursts, and moderate discussions between judges at the end of the trial.

Learn more about "The Sixth Annual Mock Trial: Nicholas Nickleby."

View the poster announcement   Purchase a ticket

View photos from the mock trial

In 2013, Beckman served as a judge in the theater's mock trial of William Shakespeare's character Othello.

Trial Lawyer Cashman Describes the Rewards of Teaching

 

1/31/14

Patricia CashmanPatricia Cashman, a trial attorney, an author and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Legal Studies, describes the rewards of teaching in a recent article in Faculty Focus, a publication of UCF's Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning.

"Teaching has made me a better lawyer in the courtroom and a better person in our community," Cashman shared. "An unexpected benefit has been how much I have learned from my students, and how much I continue to learn from my students."

Read the article

Legislative Scholars Heading to Tallahassee

 

1/16/14

2014 UCF Legislative Scholars

Seven of the 11 UCF Legislative Scholars are legal studies majors.

Eleven of UCF’s best and brightest students are heading to Tallahassee this month and next to work in state legislative offices during Florida’s 2014 legislative session.

The students will serve as UCF Legislative Scholars, conducting research, assisting with constituent relations, tracking bills and supporting other daily operations of a legislative office during the session, which runs March 4 to May 2. They will work full-time and receive a stipend and housing in the state capital for a minimum of three months.

Read more

Department Hosts Another Successful Moot Court Tournament

 

11/20/13

Cynthia Schmidt welcomes the student participantsHundreds of students and professionals gathered Nov. 15-16 at UCF to participate in the annual South Atlantic Regional Moot Court Tournament, hosted by the Department of Legal Studies. "One hundred students from 12 universities and colleges competed in this year's tournament," said Cynthia Schmidt, tournament coordinator and lead coach for the UCF teams. In addition, 110 local attorneys and judges volunteered as judges, and 90 local high school students, as well as the department's staff, helped with tournament logistics. "From this tournament, one team from UCF is headed to nationals in Arizona in January," said Schmidt (standing in photo). "This weekend, three more teams from UCF will compete at a regional tournament at the College of Wooster. They could quality for nationals at that event as well."

Affirmative Action is 'Alive but on life support'

 

10/7/13

Seminole Voice reporter Sarah Wilson recently interviewed department Chair James Beckman on the status of affirmative action in the United States. Beckman, an expert on affirmative action, is quoted extensively in her Oct. 2 article, "Last Rounds of a 47-Year Fight."

According to Beckman, "race-based affirmative action in the way it's implemented today is likely on its way out as a diversity maker in U.S. universities."

On Oct. 15, the Supreme Court will begin hearings for a case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, which challenges the legality of Michigan’s proposed statewide ban of affirmative action policies. (Article excerpt)

 

Read the full article

UCF, Barry Law Announce 3+3 Accelerated Law Program

 

8/2/13
College Dean Frumkin, Barry Law Dean Diaz and Department Chair James BeckmanUCF and the Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law have entered into a partnership to offer a 3+3 Accelerated Law Program. The program will allow qualified UCF students to earn both a bachelor’s degree in legal studies from UCF and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Barry Law in six years. Learn more


Photo: (left to right) College Dean Michael Frumkin, Barry Law Dean Leticia Diaz and department Chair James Beckman at the signing ceremony (Photo by Paul Lefton)

Read "UCF-Barry Partnership Would Help Law Students Graduate Earlier" in the Orlando Sentinel.

Moot Court, Mock Trial Opportunities Highlighted in Local Magazine

 

7/2/13
The June 2013 issue of The Briefs, the magazine of the Orange County Bar Association (Florida), includes an article about UCF's Moot Court and Mock Trial Teams, which are housed in the Department of Legal Studies. The article includes commentary from two participating students and Cynthia Schmidt, Moot Court head coach and director of the Center for Law and Policy.
Read the article:  Page 30  Page 31

Fromang and Meltzer Publish Essays on Illegal Downloading

 

6/26/13

Faculty members Gina Fromang and Brett Meltzer are the authors of separate essays on the costs of illegal downloading of music and other content from the Internet in an issue of ABC-CLIO's Issues: Understanding Controversy and Society. In his essay, "The Cost of Illegal Downloading is Devastating for the Copyright Holder and for Innovative Creativity," Meltzer argues that "llegal downloading is costly not just financially but culturally as well." Fromang provides an alternative view in "The Sounds of Silence: Technology Is Not Piracy." She argues that "the spread of technology has made regulating illegal downloads nearly impossible."

Learn more at http://issues2.abc-clio.com/.

Beckman Weighs in on Affirmative Action Ruling

 

6/26/13

The U.S. Supreme Court decided on June 24 to allow universities to continue to use race as a factor in the admission process. Department Chair James Beckman, an expert on affirmative action in higher education, shared his thoughts about the ruling in two online forums:

ABC-CLIO Blog: Affirmative Action Survives to See Another Day—For Now

UCF Today: U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Maintains Affirmative Action

Alumna Egan Graduates First in Class from Georgetown Law

 

6/4/13

Brenna EganCongratulations to alumna Brenna Egan (B.A. legal studies, B.A. English '10), who graduated first in her class from the Georgetown University Law Center on May 19!

Egan received the Francis E. Lucey, S. J. Award for earning the highest academic average in a class of approximately 500 law students. In addition, she graduated summa cum laude and was inducted into the Order of Coif in recognition of her scholastic achievement.

On July 1, Egan will begin a one-year clerkship with Judge Janice Rogers Brown in the Washington, D.C., Circuit of the United State Court of Appeals.

While at UCF, Egan received the Order of Pegasus award; was named the college's most outstanding student for 2010; and completed her Honors in the Major thesis under the guidance of Kathy Cook, instructor of legal studies.

Bast receives Collegewide Teaching Excellence Award

 

5/1/13

Carol BastCongratulations to Associate Professor Carol Bast on her receipt of a College of Health and Public Affairs' Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award for 2012-13!

Learn about this dedicated faculty member's teaching philosophy at http://bit.ly/14nElmP. Two excerpts appear below:

"When I plan a course, I search for the instructional delivery strategy best suited to the subject matter."

"I am continually reevaluating my expectations to make sure they are reasonable, sometimes in the middle of the semester."

UCF, Touro Law Announce Accelerated Law Program

 

4/23/13

UCF and Touros deans sign the 3+3 program agreement.UCF and Touro Law Center are pleased to announce the creation of a three-plus-three accelerated law program. The program will provide qualified UCF students with an opportunity to complete a Bachelor of Arts or Science in Legal Studies from UCF and a Juris Doctor (Doctor of Law) from Touro Law Center in six rather than seven years. Touro Law Center is part of the Touro College system of nonprofit institutions of higher and professional education based in Central Islip, N.Y.  Learn more

Also see Touro Law, UCF Create Accelerated-Degree Program (Long Island Business News, 4/23/13)

Legal Studies Quick Takes
Legal Studies' Instructor Margarita Koblasz, who coordinates the Mock Trial Team at UCF, and Brenna Eagen (B.A. in legal studies, B.A. in English literature, '10) discuss the skills gained by team members on the Public Affairs Today show on UCF TV.


 

LS Highlights
  • Cortez Whatley
    Cortez Whatley, a major in both legal studies and public administration, was elected president of UCF’s Student Government Association in March 2012 following two weeks of campaigning. He assumed his new role in May. Whatley and his running mate, Rachel Brill, ran a campaign and platform focused on improving campus life and expanding UCF’s impact on the community. Learn more
  • Michael Labbee
    Michael Labbee (B.S. in legal studies, ’10) is a Juris Doctor candidate (Class of 2013) at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Fla. At the end of his second year, he ranked in the top 5% of his class. Since January 2012, he has been a research assistant for Professor Jason at Stetson.
  • Donatellio Williams
    Since spring 2012, Donatellio Williams, a dual legal studies and political science major, has worked with Associate Professor Carol Bast as an unpaid teaching assistant in her course, Law and the Legal System. Bast said his efforts have been instrumental in the smooth functioning of the class. She has been particularly impressed with "his ability to answer questions with a personable, yet business demeanor." Williams plans to attend law school then practice criminal law, representing criminal defendants.
  • Shamieka Seburn
    Shamieka Seburn, a double major in legal studies and political sciences and minor in mass communications, is the UCF recipient of the Florida Executive Women Scholarship for 2012. She has been on the Dean’s List and the President’s Honor Roll a number of times in her undergraduate career, and she is a member of Golden Key International Honour Society, National Black Law Students Association and Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society. She plans to attend law school, and her dream job is working as a Judge Advocate General.
  • Andrea-Li Medina
    Andrea-Li Medina is the first student to receive the new Legal Studies Professional Development and Leadership Scholarship. She received the $500 award in fall 2010. "This scholarship helped me tremendously," said the legal studies honors student. "It was given at a time when I most needed it." This spring, she was selected to be a member of the 2011-2012 President’s Leadership Council at UCF. The honor recognizes her excellence in leadership, scholarship and service to the university and Orlando community. Medina plans to become an attorney, practicing in the fields of immigration, real estate and property, bankruptcy, and family law. She also aspires to become an immigration judge and one day return to UCF to teach and "give back to UCF what it has given me."
  • Lacy Page
    Legal studies major Lacy Page (pictured above with Florida Gov. Rick Scott) served as a UCF Legislative Scholars Intern in Tallahassee in spring 2011. For three months, she worked in the legislative offices of Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner (District 9) and Representative Dorothy Hukill (District 28).

    "It was a very enlightening experience that I will never forget," Page said. "There was not one day without some sort of excitement. I was privy to the ins and outs of Florida bills going from committee to law. I saw firsthand Florida voters' passion to have their voices heard in regards to bills because of the ultimate effect they will have on their lives. I attended committee meetings, House sessions and Senate sessions. I had the great honor of meeting our governor, attorney general, Senate president, House speaker plus many, many more movers and shakers that make up our state government. You could not ask for a better opportunity to see our House and Senate at work in an up close and personal way. I consider myself lucky to have had this prestigious opportunity and will always be thankful for it." More photos
  • Aboubakr Maaroufi
    Aboubakr Maaroufi (B.S., legal studies, '10) described his first semester at Barry University Law School as "unbelievably successful." "I received an A for every class and I even booked (received the highest score) my contracts class," Maaroufi wrote. "In addition to that, I was selected as a member of the Barry trial team. ... I know that the education I received as a student in the legal studies program played a big role in what I have been able to achieve here at Barry." He has been selected to serve as a Dean's Study Fellow in fall 2011, a position offered "to only a few of the most successful law students," said Lisa Kirscht, director of academic success at Barry. Update, 6/2011: At the end of his first year of law school, Maaroufi ranked first in his class. Update, 6/2012: Maaroufi was one of four members of Barry's Trial Team that went on to defeat Harvard University in the final round to win the ABA National Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy Competition held in March in Chicago.
  • Mark Nation
    Attorney Mark Nation (B.A., legal studies, '87) (above, left), founder of The Nation Law Firm, was named the College of Health and Public Affairs' 2009 Professional Achievement Award Winner. He is shown here with Michael Frumkin, dean of the college.
  • Brenna Egan
    As a senior, Brenna Egan (B.A, legal studies; B.A, English, '10) received the Order of Pegasus award, UCF's most prestigious honor, and was named the 2010 Founders' Day Award Winner for the College of Health and Public Affairs. At UCF, Egan maintained a 4.0 GPA while remaining actively involved on-campus and in the Central Florida community during her four years at UCF. Egan was an active member of UCF's Mock Trial Team, winning five Outstanding Mock Trial Attorney awards at regional and national competitions. She also served as a volunteer teacher with Junior Achievement for four years, and she served as a volunteer jury advisor for the Orange County Teen Court. In addition, she took on the challenging Honors in the Major program in legal studies, which requires researching and writing a thesis. In spring 2010, she successfully defended her thesis, titled "The Battered Man: An Evaluation of Equal Justice under the Law." Egan will begin law school at Georgetown University Law Center in fall 2010. Update, 5/2013: Egan graduated first in her class from the Georgetown University Law Center.
  • Kathy Cook
    Legal Studies' Instructor and Attorney Kathy Cook was named an honorary member of the Paralegal Association of Florida at the organization's 35th anniversary celebration on May 13, 2011. She received the honor in appreciation for her dedication and service to the association and paralegal profession. Cook is one of just two professionals to be awarded honorary membership in the organization. Click here to enlarge photo.
  • Matthew Beck
    Matthew Beck
    Alumnus Matt Beck (B.S., legal studies, '10) is currently a student at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. He completed a "great" summer 2011 internship at the U.S. Department of Justice and was invited to remain there this fall to write a monograph about alternative service of process in all 50 states for use in the Court of International Trade. "I'm pretty excited about writing something that will stay behind as an office resource long after I move on," he said. He also will write for the Georgetown International Law Review. Beck hopes to return to Orlando in 2012 as a summer associate at a local law firm.