Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University-College of Law: Empowering Citizens to Change the World
Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University

A legacy isn’t a legacy without its series of ups and downs, of comebacks. Bob Riley once said, “Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed.” The Knowledge Review feels immensely proud to bring forth a hero, which truly defines this quote. We would like to present, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU)- College of Law. The institute closed its door at a young age of just 17 years. However, just like a phoenix rise from its ashes, FAMU-College of Law rose again in 2002 and reaffirmed its historical legacy of excellence and responsibility to serve as a transformative force for the public good.

Till date, the college continues on its legacy- to serve as a beacon of hope and catalyst for change by providing access to excellent educational training and opportunities to generations of students seeking to serve the needs of traditionally underserved people and communities locally, nationally and internationally.

The college is much proud of its HBCU heritage and has produced more African-American lawyers in the past years, on average, than every Florida public school combined. Nevertheless, the school is open to all who seek a law community where intellectual freedom and self-discovery are encouraged; where 70% is the minority and 60 % women. “While we continue our historic mission of educating African-Americans, we embrace persons of all racial, ethnic and national groups as members of the university community. We are dedicated to developing legal professionals and community leaders committed to equitable justice and the rule of law.”

Since re-establishing in 2002, more than 1,500 leaders in law have graduated from the school. “At Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law, we don’t just produce lawyers. Our graduates are champions of civil rights and social justice.”

The Rise

On 21st of December 1949, the Florida & Agricultural College opened its law division. A class of five students was admitted in 1951. Between 1954 and 1968, the College of Law graduated 57 students. The notable graduates during that time were U.S. Representative Alcee Hastings; State Senator Arthenia Joyner, the late Gwendolyn Sawyer Cherry, the first black woman legislator in Florida; and the late Jesse McCrary, former Florida Secretary of State.

Later in 1966, the Florida Board of Control (later known as the Board of Regents) withdrew the institution’s permission to admit law students, and two years later, the Law School graduated its last class and closed its doors.

For years, FAMU administrators, alumni, and friends fought to reopen the FAMU Law College. In 1985, FAMU President Frederick S. Humphries began a zealous effort to return the law school to the university, enlisting support from key players on campus and in the community. Back then, black lawmakers routinely introduced legislation over the years.

After a lengthy effort led by the President, the Florida Legislature unanimously passed legislation setting up a law school at FAMU. On June 14, 2000, Governor Jeb Bush signed the bill. Orlando was chosen as the site of the reborn law school and President Humphries, alongside Alumni celebrated the victory. Now retired and living in Orlando, the President is still a strong advocate and supporter of the FAMU Law College.

The Sound Infrastructure

The FAMU College of Law is in the heart of downtown Orlando, just steps from the George C. Young United States Courthouse and Federal Building; and blocks from governmental offices, major law firms, large corporations, and legal service agencies. The college’s prime location provides students with direct access to the area’s largest employers of individuals with law degrees, offering students and graduates ample avenues to gain practical experience in the legal profession.

With tuition fee among the lowest of the 13 law schools in Florida, along with a full-time day program and a part-time evening program, the college is distinctly positioned to offer the traditional student and the working professional a chance to earn a law degree while accruing minimal debt. Thanks to its renowned faculty, the college focuses on academic excellence in the classroom; emphasizes practical experience and public service within its clinical programs; and stresses professionalism through its co-curricular activities.

The Robust Curriculum

As aforementioned, FAMU Law offers a full-time day program for students interested in the traditional format as well as a part-time evening program for students wishing to attend while continuing to work. These programs consist of the following:

  • Rigorous curriculum, including intellectual and theoretical coursework taught by full-time faculty; emerging trends and developments in law taught by leading practitioners as adjunct faculty
  • Extensive skills training that features an intensive three-year writing program and strong clinical program
  • Clinical and practical experiences designed to implement theory and prepare students for the real-world practice of law.
  • Community service, a key component to the program, which serves the Orlando community by providing pro-bono legal services.

Going further, FUMA college of law provides exposure to the legal field with several clinics such as mediation, guardian ad litem, and criminal defense. It is of the opinion that abroad study programs can be valuable additions to the law school educational process. At FUMA College of Law, students gain unique opportunities to study law, live in a foreign country, get first-hand exposure to the legal system of another country, and receive academic credit towards their degree. They can also take part in study abroad programs through collaborations with diverse universities.

All the institute’s programs are fully accredited by the Council of the Section of Legal Education of the American Bar Association. Graduates after successful program completion can opt for a multitude of career options. This includes working as attorneys at small, mid-size or large firms, government, academia, business and industry and/or public interest work. Graduates can also pursue JD advantage options in healthcare, legal technology, and compliance.

For student’s right career planning, the college’s Office of Career Planning and Professional Development (CPPD) is a comprehensive resource center, designed to aid students and alumni in every phase of their career planning process. CPPD serves as a professional employment and preparation resource, offering year-round service to students, alumni, and employers. This office is committed to advising and assisting students to develop the necessary skills to become more marketable and assist in their job search efforts. These include; Individual counseling; Programming; On-campus Interview Program; Mock Interviews; Employment opportunities; Publication and Books; Jobs and career fairs, and many other resources.

Word of Mouth

The college has over 1500 alumni individuals committed to making transformative change in their respective communities. From the state attorney’s office and the public defender’s office to large firms as Holland & Knight and Akerman to corporations such as Lockheed Martin and Walt Disney World, the college’s graduates are fulfilling their dreams in a variety of professions and that allows them to effectively utilize their Juris doctor degrees. The alumni are not only serving the state of Florida but also serving outside their comfort levels. They are serving in places such as New York City to take advantage of the media market; California to pursue entertainment law, or Washington DC to be close to the political scene. FAMU College of Law’s degree has armed them with a solid foundation for a variety of careers. Subsequently, these alumni are engaged in serving the underserved or leading the fight for justice.

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