UF Law Through the Years

First 50 | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000-Present

THE FIRST DECADE: 1909 – 1919

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Bryan Hall became the new home of the College of Law in 1914.

September 29, 1909, the College of Law opened with two full-time faculty members:Albert J. Farrah, serving as the new Dean (formerly Dean at Stetson) and Harry R. Trusler (formerly Professor at Stetson), and four Special Lecturers: Judge Horatio Davis, Judge Thomas M. Shackleford, Col. W. W. Hampton, and Col. William E. Baker.

The College occupied two unplastered rooms on the third floor of Thomas Hall, which accommodated thirty-eight men and a library of 2,481 volumes. Two years of high school were required for admission and law school was a two-year course.

Costs were: dormitory room $l.00/month, plus $1.40 extra for lights and heat; meals $12.50/month. Tuition, room and board (everything except heat and laundry) was $165/year.

1910

Three law students, who transferred from Stetson University, were the first students to graduate from the new University of Florida College of Law.

William Kixmiller was appointed as Assistant Professor of Law and Judge Horatio Davis appointed Lecturer.

1911

Admission requirements remained the same but students notified that their requirements would be increased during the next two years.

Sixteen students graduated in 1911.

The Legislature appropriated $1,000 for the purchase of new books for the Law Library.

1912

Dean Thomas W. Hughes replaced Albert J. Farrah, who accepted the deanship at the University of Alabama. By this time the law school outgrew the space in Thomas Hall and was assigned rooms in Language Hall, but these were inadequate.

1913

Construction began on a new building for the law school.

1914

The building was completed in time for fall classes, at a cost of $24,000, and accepted on November 8th. Renamed Bryan Hall at a later date.

Admission requirements were raised from three years of high school to four years.

Students organized the John Marshall Debating Society, named after the distinguished Southern jurist. This organization provided an opportunity to develop excellence in speaking which continues today.

1915

Professor Harry R. Trusler, age 33, was appointed Dean when Thomas W. Hughes left to become Dean at Washburn University.

1917

The faculty adopted a three-year law course.

The College was accredited by the New York Board of Regents.

Figures reported in the American Law School Review indicate that there was a 50% reduction in the UF Law School enrollment, indicating the effect of the War on attendance.

1918

The library increased in size to 4,548 volumes.

1919

Fall enrollment of seventy-six students reflected the return of servicemen.

THE 1920s DECADE

1920

The law school became a member of the Association of American Law Schools

1921

More students, about 115, have enrolled than ever before in the Spring term. More are from other states than usual. In the Fall term 127 students were enrolled.

The College participated in the University exhibit at the State Fair in Jacksonville in November and law students presented a brief, humorous moot court case.

1923

Entrance requirements were raised to one year of college work.

1924

Phi Alpha Delta established.

1925

Requirements were raised to two years of college work.

The American Bar Association approved the school as an “A” school.

Stella Biddle [Fisher], the first woman to attend the law school, was permitted to take a class but not register as a student. She passed the Florida Bar Examination and was admitted to practice law.

1927

The practice of allowing students who wanted to take one or more law classes but did not meet the qualifications for admission to law school was discontinued.

The sixth faculty member was hired at a salary of $3,400 annually.

Law library of John W. Henderson of Tallahassee was given to the law school. In addition to standard books, volumes of rare value and historical importance were included.

1928

Admission requirements were raised to sixty-eight semester hours.

Alma Slagle, wife of law faculty member, Dean Slagle, attended law school and in 1928 was the first woman to graduate. There is no record that she was admitted to the Florida Bar or that she ever practiced law.

The law library contained 8,258 volumes, exclusive of the Henderson collection.

1929

Total funds requested for 1929-1930 were $35,787.

THE 1930s DECADE

1930-31

Enrolled students numbered 204.

Seven full-time faculty and one half-time taught in the regular Fall and Spring semesters.

Four faculty taught in the Summer Session.

1931-32

The College was among the first law schools to offer a credit course in Legal Research.

Selected students with high scholastic rank were permitted to develop “studies.” Suitable papers were submitted to law journals for publication. Several were published in the Florida State Bar Association Journal.

Student enrollment was 209. Total number of enrolled students since 1909 was 3,657 of whom 661 graduated. Many students enrolled in Summer School only to take several law classes.

A survey conducted by the Registrar’s Office indicated that: Law and Education had the largest number of graduates from 1905 through 1932; 90% of Law and Medical graduates considered their positions permanent; and Law graduates were the highest paid of all groups.

1932

The library contained 10,765 volumes which met the minimum requirements of the AALS. of 10,000 volumes.

1933

The J.D. degree was eliminated as of September 1, 1933. Three degrees were offered: LL.B., LL.B. with honors, and LL.B. with high honors.

Admission requirement was raised to an academic degree or completing a combined course at the University. This was the highest requirement for a Southern law school at that time. Also, a C average in college work was required.

Student enrollment was 244.

A course in Air Law was offered for the first time.

Clara Backus Floyd (Gehan), Rose Ealine Friedlin, and Natalie Marion Weinstein (Berger) were the first women to complete their legal education at the University of Florida College of Law, graduate, and be admitted to the Florida Bar.

1934

Effective in September the requirement for admission is an academic degree or completion of the requirements for a combined course.

Library holdings reached 11,476.

1935

144 students enrolled.

Summer law courses reinstated after having been eliminated two years. One Law course had the top number of students enrolled for the entire University.

Law school summer budget was restored and surplus funds no longer were required to be returned to UF.

1936

Library expanded into a classroom and renovations were made to improve library space.

59 Summer students enrolled, and 135 students enrolled in the fall.

Volumes in library reached 12,068 on July 1st.

1937

143 students enrolled.

1938

Class of 1938 inaugurated a student loan fund.

In May the total number of law graduates was 1007.

Efforts to secure funding for a library addition were successful. Upon completion the building would be 50% larger providing for more library space, additional classrooms, consultation rooms and offices.

1939

Equitable Remedies and Administrative Law were added to the curriculum along with reorganized property courses.

Students were invited to prepare case comments for the Florida Bar Journal.

165 students were enrolled.

Law building planning neared completion. The four-story addition would house 50,000 library volumes.

THE 1940s DECADE

1940

The faculty adjusted the curriculum weighing the balance between good old and good new courses, and between those of intellectual content and those of a laboratory nature.

49 students (excluding Summer term) graduated.

The library collection numbered 14,000 volumes.

Construction of the four-story concrete and brick building to house the law library began in February 1940.

Students were active in campus life over the last several years, serving as presidents of the student body, Florida Blue Key, Honor Court, F Club and the Athletic Council.

1941

The library annex was completed and housed 60,000 volumes. Space vacated by the library was to be renovated for classrooms, offices, and study and consultation rooms.

The entire plant of the College of Law was dedicated and named in honor of Nathan Philemon Bryan, Chairman of the Board of Control at the founding of the College of Law.

During the World War II era the enrollment declined substantially; however the law school remained open.

1945

Following the end of the war, a vast increase in number of veterans on the G.I. Bill enrolled in classes and graduated in the late 1940s.

1947

Professor Clifford W. Crandall served as acting dean following the retirement of Harry R. Trusler.

1948

Henry A. Fenn became Dean of the College of Law.

The first issue of the Law Review was published in the Spring. Editorial Board consisted of Harold B. Crosby, Editor-in-Chief, and Herman Ulmer, Jr., Louis Leibovit, Warren M. Goodrich, and J. Allen Smith.

The College of Law Building was completely renovated and additions included a new office suite for the Dean and additional faculty offices.

The numbers of faculty increased, the curriculum revised, admissions process strengthened, and the Legal Ethics program established.

THE 1950s DECADE

1950

In the Spring construction of a new wing was completed, providing for a library reading room seating 150 students, a courtroom-auditorium seating 250, and a suite of offices for the UF Law Review.

1955

The Order of the Coif was established at the College of Law.

1958

Frank E. Maloney was named Acting Dean following Henry Fenn’s return to full-time teaching.

September 15th. George Starke was the first African American student to enroll in the University of Florida College of Law. He withdrew from law school after the first year.

1959

Frank E. Maloney was appointed Dean in May.

The College of Law celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The Florida Law Center Scholarship Fund was established. 150 law firms became charter members and more than 500 members pledged contributions to the fund.

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The 1960s Decade

The University of Florida Law Center Association was formed with its purpose to promote, support and improve legal education, particularly at the University of Florida. The Association was incorporated in 1962.

1962

W. George Allen enrolled in law school in September 1960, and became the first African American law student to graduate from UF Law.

September. A fire erupted in the Law Library after closing when a student on duty emptied ash trays from the reading room and dumped the contents in a wastebasket behind the Circulation desk. Replacement costs were about $150,000.

1963

UF undergraduate freshmen enrollment increased dramatically and unexpectedly (children born after World War II veterans returned from service), alerting the law school administration that a similar increase could be expected in four years. Estimated law school enrollment was projected to be 1,114+ as compared with 537 current students.

1964

The Dean appointed a long range planning committee which set it goals to respond to the theme: “Where the Law College Wants to Be in 1975.”

Wilbert Langston purchased “the little store across the street,” which became very popular with the law faculty and students in later years.

March 1964
The first issue of The University of Florida Law Center News was published.

January 27, 1964
The Clifford W. Crandall Memorial Scholarship fund was created for allocation to two advanced students each year.

1965

The Florida Legislature appropriated $3,400,000 for the Law Center complex.

Federal funding was requested for building a dormitory and cafeteria. The funds were available but construction costs skyrocketed and it was no longer feasible to build the entire complex.

The Board of Regents approved the request of the College of Law that the Juris Doctor degree be reinstated to replace the Bachelor of Laws degrees as the first professional degree in law.

1966

October 28, 1966
Ground breaking ceremony for the new Law Center was held on the site at the extreme Northwest corner of the UF campus. 500 people attended, including many distinguished guests.

Architects received the Architectural Design Honor Award for 1966 from the American Institute of Architects for “the best major building design in Florida for 1966.”

Homecoming 1966
Circuit Judge James C. Adkins, Jr. received the James W. Day Award, presented annually to a non-faculty member who has contributed to the field of legal education and assisted the law student body.

Professor Leonard S. Powers was appointed to the newly created position as Associate Dean of the College of Law.

1968

The Center of Competence in Water Law in the Eastern United States and also The Florida Law Revision Commission, created in 1967 by the Legislature, are established at the law school.

December 1968
Program plans were developed, fund-raising had been successful, and construction of Holland Hall on the west side of UF campus was completed.

1969

Anita Morse was hired as the first permanent, full-time female faculty member.

Visiting Professor Spencer Boyer was the first African American hired to teach at the law school. After a short period of time teaching, he and his family left Gainesville because of the telephone calls and threatening actions they received.

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The 1970s Decade

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The Center for Governmental Responsibility was founded in 1973.

The law school became known as “one of the best state law schools in the nation.” The college’s annual budget quadrupled, the law library collection tripled, and expanded to videotape equipment, computers, and other electronic devices. Student admissions standards were raised. Fund-raising successes permitted improvements in salaries and the facilities.

1970

Assistant Dean E. L. Roy Hunt served as Acting Dean from Fall 1970 to Winter 1971 as Dean Maloney elected to return to the faculty.

1971

Betty W. Taylor served as Acting Dean while Dean Hunt was on leave for two months in the Spring.

Joseph Richard Julin was hired as Dean of the College of Law in the Fall.

1972

Hazel Land, the first African-American woman to enroll in law school in 1970, graduated in 1972.

The Center for Governmental Responsibility was founded, the state’s senior legal and public policy research center. Jon Mills served as Director from 1973-80, 1988-2000, and 2003 to the present.

1973

In the Fall the Florida Supreme Court authorized Florida’s law schools to offer a legal instruction program to selected Cuban-American lawyers to prepare these attorneys to practice law in this country. A two-year course was offered and 250 participants graduated from the program.

Summer programs were developed at Cambridge University, in Warsaw, and in Mexico City.

Other programs included the Graduate Program in Taxation; new joint degrees in urban and regional planning, business administration and political science.

An increase in number of minorities was made possible through the federally-funded Council on Legal Education Opportunity.

1976

UF was first law school in the country to subscribe to WESTLAW which contained about 2000 case decisions. It became operational on March 9th when the cross-country data lines were connected.

1977

UF was first law school in the country to subscribe to both WESTLAW and LEXIS.

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The 1980s Decade

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Judge James D. Bruton Jr. and wife Quintilla Geer Bruton donated 45 acres of property in Plant City, known as Bruton’s Audubon Bird Sanctuary, to the College of Law in 1982. According to the Associated Press the property was appraised at $1.1 million and was the largest contribution made to the college at that time.

Increased quality improvement funding from the Florida Legislature and increased support from alumni promoted progress in the law school. The Dean led the drive for funding to complete the building program, Bruton-Geer Hall, and also promoted the restructuring of the College’s legal research and writing program.

1980

Associate Dean E. L. Roy Hunt again served as Interim Dean when Joseph Richard Julin returned to full-time teaching after serving as Dean of the law school for nine years.

Under Dean Hunt’s direction, the College of Law changed from a quarter to a semester system and made major curriculum revisions to improve the quality of legal education at the Holland Law Center. He played a major role in obtaining funding for the Commons Building expansion of the Law Center facilities, now known as Bruton-Geer Hall.

1981

Frank T. (Tom) Read assumed the deanship on July 1st and Roy Hunt returned to teaching.

Fund-raising was under way to construct a second building in the Center to accommodate the expanding functions of the law school.

1984

Bruton-Geer Hall, named after the parents of donor, Judge James D. Bruton, Jr. and his wife, Quintilla Geer Bruton, was completed, accommodating a courtroom, media services, Center for Governmental Responsibility, Legal Research and Writing program, Career Planning, student lounge and cafeteria.

1987

Fifty-nine faculty were teaching, of whom six were women.

1988

On July 1, Jeffrey E. Lewis became the eighth dean of the College of Law as former Dean Reid accepted a position as Dean of the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, California.

1989

July 7. The Virgil Hawkins Clinic was named in memory of Virgil Darnell Hawkins, who crusaded for civil rights.

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The 1990s Decade

1994

LL.M. in Comparative Law program designed for graduates of foreign law schools who seek an understanding of American law.

First volume of the Florida Tax Review published.

Judge James D. Bruton Jr. honored for donation to Bruton-Geer Hall.

April. Irving Cypren ‘43 and Robin L. Gibson ‘62 honored as UF Distinguished Alumni.

1996

July 1, 1996. Richard A. Matasar assumes the Deanship, replacing outgoing Dean Jeffrey E. Lewis, as the ninth dean.

1999

Jon Mills, Director of the Center for Government Responsibility, served as Dean on an interim basis and then on a permanent basis until June 30, 2003, replacing Richard A. Matasar who accepted a deanship at New York Law School.

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The 2000s Decade

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Sandra Day O’Connor listens as an audience member asks her a question during an event.

The decade of the 2000s witnessed phenomenal growth in faculty, research centers and facilities, a new library and classrooms, greater faculty and student diversity & improved college rankings under Deans Jon L. Mills (1999-2003), Robert Jerry (2003 – 2014) and George Dawson (2014-present).

2000

The Marcia Whitney Schott Courtyard was named in Mrs. Schott’s honor with a donation from her husband, Lewis M. Schott. Both graduated from UF Law in 1946.

2001-02

Fall 2001 and Spring 2002 graduating classes contributed and pledged over $18,000 to give back to law school programs.

2003-04

Robert Jerry assumed the Deanship on July 1, 2003 replacing Jon Mills, who returned to the leadership of the Center for Government Responsibility.

Renovation of Holland Hall began, which, when completed, featured 11 new, state-of-the-art classrooms and the Lawton Chiles Legal Information Center.

2005

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor spoke at the dedication of the new classrooms and the Lawton Chiles Legal Information Center. The 78,000-square-foot law library of 625,000 volumes serves as the centerpiece of the College’s $25 million newly renovated campus. UF law grad Fredric G. Levin’s (JD 61) gift of $10 million dollars combined with state matching funds of $10 million dollars and gifts of $6.3 million from alumni financed the construction and renovation.

2006

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke at the dedication of the Chesterfield Smith Ceremonial Classroom, located on the first floor of the east tower of the newly renovated Holland Hall.

2007

A UF Law Moot Court team won first place at the Henry G. Manne Moot Court Competition for Law & Economics at the George Mason University School of Law in Washington, D.C.

The UF Law Black Law Students Association (BLSA) Trial Team won the national title at the NBLSA Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition in Atlanta.

The University of Florida Trial Team brought home a national title at the St. John’s University National Civil Rights Trial Competition in Jamaica, N.Y.

2008

A UF Law Moot Court team placed first overall in the Henry G. Manne Moot Court Competition for Law and Economics sponsored by the George Mason University School of Law in Washington, D.C. for the second year in a row.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited UF Law students, faculty and staff to discuss challenges the next U.S. president will face.

UF Law became the first college in the nation to offer a master’s degree in environmental and land use law.

Construction began on the Martin H. Levin Legal Advocacy Center, which will feature a large, modern state-of the-art courtroom. Construction of the advocacy center was made possible through the support of UF law grad Fredric G. Levin (JD 61) and other alumni who contributed $5.2 million to the Levin College of Law.

Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr. became the first representative of the U.S. Supreme Court in history to judge the Justice Campbell Thornal Moot Court Final Four on Sept. 5.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens and U.S. District Court Judge Jose A. Gonzalez Jr. (JD 57) spoke at the inaugural Marshall M. Criser Distinguished Lecture at the UF Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The lecture series was established with a gift from Lewis Schott (LLB 46) as a tribute to former UF President Marshall Criser (LLB 51).

2009

UF Law celebrated its 100 year anniversary.

The first national ranking of law schools to consider “output,” i.e. the caliber of a school’s graduates, has placed the University of Florida Levin College of Law first in Florida, eighth overall and fourth among public schools. The inaugural ranking by Super Lawyers magazine was based on the number of each school’s graduates in the magazine’s annual state and regional listing of exceptional lawyers in more than 70 areas of practice.

UF Law Professor and Dean Emeritus Jon Mills accepted an appointment to serve on the Florida Judicial Nominating Commission. The Florida JNC is a 56-member commission charged with the thorough review and recommendation of the most qualified candidates to serve as U.S. District Court Judges, U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals in Florida.

A $1 million gift was announced to complete the University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law’s Trial Advocacy Center and bring the total of Levin family gifts to the law school to nearly $30 million, including state matching funds. The gift from Teri Levin, Fredric G. Levin’s sister-in-law, honors her late husband, Allen Richard Levin.

2010

U.S. News & World Report rankings of the nation’s top graduate schools released placed the University of Florida Levin College of Law as Florida’s only top 50 law school. UF Law was ranked 47th overall, and 24th among all public law schools. Its Graduate Tax Program was 3rd overall and continued to rank 1st among publics. Its Environmental Law Program was tied for 7th among public universities and 16th overall.

The UF Law Trial Team won first place at the Florida Bar Chester Bedell Memorial Mock Trial Competion. The victory marks the sixth time UF Law has won the prestigious competition.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was UF Law’s special guest at the second annual Marshall M. Criser Distinguished Lecture. Thomas became the fifth Supreme Court justice to visit the college in five years.

UF Law alumnus and former president of The Florida Bar Stephen N. Zack was sworn in as president of the American Bar Association, becoming the first Hispanic-American to take on the duty and the fifth UF Law graduate to hold the position. Following in Zack’s footsteps on the state level are UF Law alumni Mayanne Downs, who became president of The Florida Bar, and Scott G. Hawkins, who became The Florida Bar president-elect for 2011.

2011

U.S. News & World Report rankings of the nation’s top graduate schools continue to place the University of Florida Levin College of Law as a first tier law school. UF Law ranked 47th overall and 24th among all public law schools. The Graduate Tax Program ranked 2nd overall and 1st among public programs. The Environmental Law Program came in 6th among public universities and 13th overall.

This year’s entering class hit record qualifications with a median LSAT score of 162 and undergraduate GPA of 3.64. Approximately 1,040 J.D. students were enrolled in 2011.

The UF Law Trial Team went undefeated in every round of the National Criminal Trial Competition, marking the seventh national win for the team in eight years.

The Martin H. Levin Advocacy Center was officially opened in a dedication ceremony featuring appearances by the Levin family, and a keynote speech by former ABC News President David Westin.

UF Law student Wilbert Vancol won the National Best Advocate Award at the ABA National Moot Court Competition. The award is the highest accolade given to an individual demonstrating the strongest advocacy abilities in the country.

Stephen N. Zack Hall was unveiled in a ceremony including retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor, former ABA President and UF Law alumnus Stephen N. Zack, and Bob Graham, Florida’s former governor and U.S. Senator.

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor spoke at UF Law’s annual Allen L. Poucher Lecture Series. The lecture featured a panel of distinguished women in the legal profession, including former ABA President and UF Law alumnae Martha Barnett, Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince and U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and UF Law alumnae Judge Rosemary Barkett.

2012

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas visited UF Law for the Marshall M. Criser Distinguished Lecture in Law. This marked the seventh visit by a Supreme Court justice in seven years.

The University of Florida Levin College of Law placed first among Florida law schools in the number of successful first-time test takers of the July 2012 Florida Bar Examination. UF Law’s passage rate was 91.2 percent compared to an overall passage rate of 80.2 percent.

The annual Allen L. Poucher Legal Education Series featured a panel of five of Florida’s former governors. Gov. Reubin Askew, Gov. Charlie Crist, Gov. Bob Graham, Gov. Buddy MacKay and Gov. Bob Martinez discussed critical issues impacting the state.

The University of Florida Levin College of Law remains highly ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s annual list of top law schools. UF Law placed 25th among public schools and 48th out of 200 accredited law schools nationwide. The tax program continues to rank first among public law schools and second overall, while the environmental and land use program rose four places to fifth among publics and ninth overall.

UF Law Trial Team placed first in the E. Earle Zehmer Mock Trial Competition. The winning group beat out 14 other teams from seven Florida schools.

UF Law alumnus, Timon Sullivan (JD 79), was named trial lawyer of the year by the Florida chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

2013

The University of Florida Levin College of Law continues its ascent of the U.S. News & World Report rankings. UF Law moved up two spots to place 23rd among public schools and 46th overall. Meanwhile, UF Law ranked first among public law schools and third overall in tax, and fifth among publics and 12th overall in environmental law.

UF Law Black Law Students Association (BLSA) won national recognition as Chapter of the Year during the National Black Law Student’s annual convention. BLSA earned the distinction over 250 chapters around the nation.

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens visited UF Law for the Marshall M. Criser Distinguished Lecture Series. This is the second visit by Justice Stevens to the UF Law campus and the eighth visit of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice in eight years.

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