UF law school unveils environmental fellowship
Published: Friday, May 24, 2013 at 4:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 24, 2013 at 4:06 p.m.
A new scholarship program at the UF Levin College of Law has been created to support law school graduates who want a career championing the environment and helping draft public policy to protect the Everglades.
The E. Thomas Rumberger Everglades Foundation Fellowship Programs is named after Tom Rumberger, founder of Rumberger, Kirk and Caldwell law firm and the lead counsel for the Everglades Foundation since 1989. The goal was to create something that honored his love of the law, UF and the environment, said Jon Mills, UF’s law school dean emeritus and director of the Center for Government Responsibility at the law school.
“The idea is to get a person every year who has that sense of concern for public service and for the Everglades and environmental issues,” said Mills, a longtime friend of Rumberger’s who worked on several landmark environmental cases together.
Rumberger died in 2011.
The Rumberger fellowship is the most recent program at the College of Law designed to support law students who want to pursue a career in public service, Dean Bob Jerry said.
For the first time, the law school granted two UF law students $5,000 each from the Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship Foundation, Jerry said. Justice Stevens retired from the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010.
Law student Joshua Izaak will work with the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C., as a voter protection legal intern, and Kaylee Chabarek will work with the U.S. Army JAG Corps in Fort Hood, Texas.
Two other students will receive $5,000 each as part of a newly created fellowship named after Bill McBride, a UF College of Law alumnus and politician who died unexpectedly in December, Dean Jerry said. McBride was managing partner at Holland & Knight in Tampa and ran against Jeb Bush for governor in 2002.
Marissa Fallica will spend the summer with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights in Atlanta, while Patrick Todd works at the Department of Justice Environmental Tort Litigation Branch in Washington. D.C.
“We are really pleased to be able to figure out programs and provide those programs to students interested in these careers to begin pursuing them during their law school summers,” Jerry said.
Each of the fellowships allows law students to travel from Gainesville to bigger metropolitan areas to do public interest work and cover living expenses, said Debbie Amirin, communications director at the law school. Students may be assigned to a federal agency in Washington, D.C., or Atlanta, or the Department of Environmental Protection in Tallahassee, she said.
The Rumberger fellowship was created by Mills with the partners at Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell of Orlando and the Everglades Foundation. It surpassed its initial fundraising goal of $300,000, receiving $309,000 in cash and pledges, Amirin said. The foundation has already received about three-quarters of that amount, she said.
Mills said students who receive a Rumberger fellowship will work in concert with the Center for Governmental Responsibility and the Everglades Foundation. He envisions the student working on public policy issues with environmental agencies in Tallahassee or Washington, D.C.
“We would intend for them to actually do practical work,” Mills said.
A Republican, Rumberger was general counsel for the late former Gov. Claude Kirk and represented the Republican Party in the 1992 redrawing of state political districts.
Rumberger and Mills worked together to prevent the release of autopsy photos of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, subsequently changing state law on autopsy records.
Mills and Rumberger also worked on landmark Florida Supreme Court cases dealing with the Everglades. “Everything the Everglades Foundation did, he was the keystone,” Mills said.
Jacey Kaps, a partner at Rumberger, Kirk and Caldwell’s Miami office, said the firm was happy to be involved in creating the foundation.
“We are happy to enshrine his legal legacy in the halls of the university college of law,” Kaps said.
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