The Birth of a New School of Law | Jax Daily Record | Jacksonville Daily Record
Being a lawyer involves, among other skills, appearing in court, taking solemn oaths, and understanding the nuances of language and the law.
Students in the inaugural class of Jacksonville University College of Law experienced this during the first days of their three years of study.
The tone for the Class of 2025 was set during the college’s official convocation Aug. 5 at the Duval County Courthouse.
The ceremony was attended by administrators and faculty from the university and college of law and the families of the students as well as members of the Jacksonville legal community.
“It’s a leap of faith for JU that I know will pay dividends,” 4th Circuit Chief Judge Mark Mahon said as he opened the proceedings.
JU President Tim Cost told the story of the university’s 88-year journey to a law school, a move rooted in the establishment of the institution in 1934 as William J. Carry.
“Jacksonville University was founded by a judge. Early writings contemplate teaching the high art of law,” Cost said.
The path to committing to law school began shortly after Cost became president of JU.
“When I came here to my alma mater in 2012, we were the biggest city in America without the type of law school we’re launching today. We’re all behind you 100%. We’re going to do it all.” properly,” Cost said.
The University of Jacksonville Law School is the second largest in the city.
The Florida Coastal School of Law, a for-profit institution, was founded in 1996 and closed in 2021 after the US Department of Education revoked its access to federal student loans. The American Bar Association allowed its students to complete their studies at other law schools.
JU College of Law Dean Nicholas Allard also spoke about the university’s commitment.
“Our faculty and our university feel a heavy responsibility and obligation to you to demonstrate that your bold – and I believe, shrewd – decision to begin your legal career with us was justified,” Allard said.
He said while all law schools teach, JU is also committed to inspiring its students to take with them a code of ethics to guide their law-trained minds.
“It matters. It matters. That’s how our little school can leverage its effect,” Allard said.
Jacksonville Bar Association President Fraz Ahmed presented his assessment of the new law school.
“It’s a historic day. You couldn’t have asked for a better group to guide you where you want to go,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed graduated in 2006 from the Florida Coastal School of Law.
He spoke about his career development since joining the JBA about 20 years ago and his commitment to students.
“When I came to Jacksonville, from the day I entered law school, I had a strong bond. The bar leaders helped guide me and wanted to see me succeed. Don’t hesitate to contact me and the Board of Governors and we invite you to JBA events to help you make connections.
‘This promise I take freely’
To conclude the ceremony, Associate Dean Margaret Dees administered the college’s Oath of Professionalism, in the presence of the court, leaders of the bar, college administration and faculty, and students’ families:
“As I begin my legal studies, I recognize that my role in the legal profession is a privilege that comes with responsibilities.
“As a result, I pledge to always conduct myself with dignity and civility. I will show respect and kindness to my classmates, teachers, staff, and all other people.
“I understand that my actions and my words not only reflect myself, but also the Jacksonville University College of Law and the legal profession.
“I promise to prepare diligently for my lessons in order to develop the skills and character that are expected of me from those who seek my help in times of need. I will seek opportunities to demonstrate leadership and serve my community with trust, integrity and ethics.
“I agree to conduct myself in accordance with the University of Jacksonville Academic Integrity Pledge and Student Code of Conduct. I make this commitment freely and on my honor, with sincerity and determination.
“We’ll get through this together”
Classes began Aug. 8 at JU’s downtown campus on the 18th floor of the VyStar Tower at 76 S. Laura St.
On the second day of the first fall term, Allard assumed the role of teacher.
In over four hours over two days, he presented an overview of what students can expect over the next three years on the road to graduation, passing the bar exam, and from the beginning of their professional career.
He explained that lawyers must develop a knack for thinking and reacting quickly and that there is a procedural point that judges prefer when a lawyer appears before them.
“Lawyers talk on their feet. When you are in this class, when you speak, stand up. There is great power in this and you have to get used to doing it.
“No other law school starts with this lesson,” Allard said.
The US Constitution is the foundation of America because it provides the same rule book and the same law for all citizens, Allard said.
“You are beginning to prepare to become guardians of our constitutional democratic system of autonomy,” he said.
“The future of democracy cannot be taken for granted. Nothing is ever perfect and we have critical issues ahead of us. Lawyers will be the architects of the bridges that unite us.
Allard informed students that law is one of the few professions that is better learned collaboratively than alone.
“Make sure everyone watches over everyone. We will go through this together. This law school starts small. It will never be huge, but we will be the pride of this city and this region. We will have an outside impact and it will be long-lasting,” Allard said.
Above: Jacksonville University College of Law Dean Nicholas Allard, far left, 4th Circuit Chief Justice Mark Mahon, JU President Tim Cost, and freshmen enrolled in the college’s class of 2025: left to right , Matthew Majors, Jake Navin, Keiry Soto Chavez, Leah O’Reilly, Andrew-Paul Griffis, Marisa Materazzi, Dominic Martin, Lauren Fisher, Alexander Wicks, Audrey Shannon, Joseph Oliva, Sydney Schmidt, Ethan Katz and Randi Alt.