Briefs April 1, 2004 Regular News GrayRobinson ships cookies to troops Each year millions of Americans anxiously await for a Girl Scout to knock on their door selling America’s favorite cookies. However, for those serving overseas, that opportunity doesn’t knock. This year the GrayRobinson law firm has decided to help bring a taste of America to the military personnel.With over 425 employees in seven offices throughout the state of Florida, the firm matched the cookie orders purchased by their employees — box for box — to be shipped overseas.The firm has been actively involved in sending care packages over to soldiers who are relatives and friends of GrayRobinson employees. The shipment of those Girl Scout Cookies will hopefully perk the spirits and put a smile on many soldiers’ faces, according to Biff Marshall, managing partner of the firm.“It’s just another way to say thank you and show our support and appreciation for their heroic efforts in protecting our freedom,” Marshall said. “Girl Scout Cookies are special. They represent home and home is where the heart is.” Judge works to combat domestic violence Dade County Judge Bonnie Rippingille, of the 11th Judicial Circuit’s Domestic Violence Division, presented “A Day in Domestic Violence Court” for girls in the Sisters of the Heart mentoring program.Sisters of the Heart was founded by Judge Rippingille to help at-risk girls in the juvenile justice system or girls who have been placed in alternative schools and provides them with mentoring and cultural enrichment programs. Students from Pace Center for Girls and Troy Academy attend.“A Day in Domestic Violence Court” teaches girls about domestic violence prevention and how to deal with the trauma of domestic violence abuse. The girls observed domestic violence hearings and received information and materials on the subject of domestic violence. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, and more than 85 percent of at-risk girls and girls in the juvenile justice system have experienced domestic violence at some time in their lives, Judge Rippingille said.During a special luncheon, the girls had an opportunity to interact with Judge Rippingille, other court personnel, and visiting attorneys who discussed the legal questions and decisions that came up during the hearings. Judge fights adult illiteracy One in every five Central Florida adults reads at or below the fifth grade level. In hopes of improving that statistic, Orlando U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Karen Jennemann volunteers her time for one-on-one tutoring with Adult Literacy League’s ESOL program.Jennemann has been tutoring since last May. The ESOL program started last year because of a $22,000 grant from Dr. Phillips Charities that enabled the Adult Literacy League to create a tutoring program for Central Floridians who speak English as their second language.“We found that we had to differentiate the way our tutors taught the students who do not speak English as their primary language,” said Joyce Whidden, executive director of Adult Literacy League, Inc. “ESOL students need more vocabulary-building and more lessons on colloquialisms. Thanks to the Dr. Phillips grant, we were able to accommodate these students.”“My student’s goal is to become a United States citizen and to improve his career skills so he can increase his income to better meet his family’s needs,” Judge Jennemann said. “He now speaks English without hesitation, but needs help with vocabulary, grammar, and usage. He is reading at a fifth grade level and reads voraciously.”The ESOL program has helped more than 100 Central Floridians who speak English as their second language and enrollment has increased by nearly one-third.Recently, Dr. Phillips Charities gave another $30,000 grant to the Adult Literacy League to help furnish its increased facility space for more one-on-one tutoring. The new facility will add more than 80 percent additional space to the organization.For more information about the Adult Literacy League visit www.adult literacyleague.org. Miami firm works with Habitat for Humanity The attorneys, staff, and invited guests from Marc A. Ben-Ezra, P.A., recently took the day and worked with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami to help build a home by rolling up their own sleeves.“The firm wanted to show its support of deserving families who have proven their willingness to build and pay for their own homes,” said Marc Ben-Ezra.Under the direction of the Habitat for Humanity staff, all present worked diligently laying sod and planting trees and bushes for two new homes in the final phases of construction. Carrolwood Bar Association The Carrollwood Community Bar Association recently presented its Third Annual Brian Weakland Award to outgoing president Joseph Kalish.Kalish was honored for his efforts in establishing the bar’s Web site, raising over $10,000 from the association’s charitable golf event, and doubling the size of membership.The award is named after its first recipient, Brian Weakland, who is one of the founders and first president of the Carrollwood Community Bar Association. Kozyak Tropin takes mentoring lead at University of Miami law John W. Kozyak and other Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton attorneys have been instrumental in reviving and expanding the mentoring program for minority law school students at the University of Miami School of Law.Kozyak’s contribution to this effort was acknowledged when, in 2001, UM Law School changed the program’s name to the “John W. Kozyak Minority Mentoring Program.”Through this program, each black student at UM Law School is paired with at least one mentor, and the majority now have a senior mentor, who is a judge or experienced lawyer, and a younger lawyer. Some of the big supporters of the program include U.S. District Judge Donald Graham and Circuit Court Judges Jerald Bagley, Scott Silverman, Daryl Trawick and County Judge Orlando Prescott. Also, Bob Josefsberg, Albert Krieger, Ed Shohat, Mike Kosnitsky, Harley Tropin, and many other lawyers have volunteered to serve as mentors.Incoming students are contacted in early August and encouraged by the Black Law Students Association and Kozyak to participate in the program. Kozyak then matches each student with an experienced lawyer, who has volunteered to be a mentor. Recent black graduates are also encouraged to volunteer as junior mentors.Mentors are expected to e-mail or call their mentee twice a month during the academic year and are encouraged to have some personal contact every month or two. Mentors are told that inviting a mentee to his/her firm for lunch or a cup of coffee, to a bar meeting, firm function, or other events are ideal ways to expose the student to the practice of law. Mentors also help students deal with studying, exam preparation, preparing a resume, and interviewing.Kozyak and his wife, Barbara Silverman, also an attorney, sponsor two cocktail parties each year, to which all mentors, mentees, and a wide group of supportive judges, senior lawyers, and law school administrators are invited. In October 2003, almost 150 people attended. There are now 80 law students and more than 125 lawyers and judges participating in the John W. Kozyak UM Minority Mentoring Program.The Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr., Bar Association, which was formerly known as the Black Lawyers Association, has recently become a major supporter of the mentoring program. As a result, steps are being taken to expand the program to include black students at Florida International University and St. Thomas University law schools, as well as at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, which is Kozyak’s alma mater. Additionally, The Florida Bar’s Equal Opportunities Law Section is now committed to providing mentors for each minority law student in the Florida. The Bar is working with local black, Hispanic, and women lawyers groups and law school alumni associations in an effort to achieve this goal. FSU scholarship to be based on merit As a longtime member of the Friends of 440 Workers’ Compensation Scholarship Committee, Tom Conroy has helped to disburse thousands of dollars to college-bound students in financial need.In most cases, he considered the money was well-spent. In others, he felt the award had been a mistake because the recipients fell short academically.The experience led him to create the Thomas W. Conroy Scholarship with a $150,000 gift to the Florida State University College of Law. The scholarship will be awarded to students who excel academically, said Conroy, a 1974 graduate of the law school and a partner in the Hollywood-based firm of Conroy, Simberg, Ganon, Krevans & Abel.“Often scholarship standards are too lenient, and some students may meet the minimal requirements for the scholarship based on financial need, but fall short of what is required of them to succeed academically,” says Conroy. “This award is for students who we are confident will become good lawyers.”Conroy, who practices in the area of workers’ compensation law and taught at the law school as an adjunct professor in 2003, says he also views the establishment of the scholarship as an opportunity to give back to his alma mater.“I’ve seen what is going on at the law school — the growth and the strong faculty — and I’m very pleased at the direction in which the law school is headed,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to make a great career for myself as a lawyer, and I’m happy to be able to be in a position to establish this scholarship that I hope will help strengthen the school’s reputation.” Kogan talks to young lawyers in S. Florida Aaron Resnick and Joshua Spector of Gunster Yoakley recently hosted a young associates breakfast with former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald Kogan.It was the first of the monthly breakfast series that Resnick and Spector are hosting for young associates in South Florida. Kogan entertained questions about his experiences on the bench and in practice, and offered advice for young lawyers. Judges educate lawyers The Palm Beach County Trial Lawyers Association recently presented “Voir Dire: A View from the Bench,” at its recent meeting.The roundtable discussion by panelists 15th Judicial Circuit Court Judges Moses Baker, Jorge Labarga, and David Crow, 4th DCA Judge Robert Gross, plaintiff attorney Dick Schuler, and defense attorney John Wiederhold addressed issues confronted by attorneys, judges, and juries on the voir dire process.