GAINESVILLE, Fla.— One of the country’s most successful trial attorneys is again providing major financial support to help his alma mater train law students in state-of-the-art facilities.
Pensacola attorney Fred Levin has contributed $2 million as the lead gift to the University of Florida Levin College of Law to build a $5.2 million complex that will include a large, modern courtroom and much needed faculty offices. Along with two other significant gifts, Levin’s gift is eligible for matching funds from the State of Florida Facilities Enhancement Challenge Grant Program, which should bring the value of the gift to $5.2 million for UF’s law school.
Levin, a 1961 alumnus and namesake of the UF law school, also provided a $10 million cash gift in 1999 that, with state matching funds, moved the college’s endowment into the top 10 of all public law schools in the nation.
Levin College of Law Dean Robert Jerry said the expansion – to be named the Martin H. Levin Advocacy Center in honor of Levin’s son and former colleague – will put the UF law school at the forefront of major law colleges providing students with sophisticated facilities and services.
“This a transformational gift for the law school and critically needed by our trial advocacy program, which ranks 13th in the nation,” said Jerry. “Combined with the recent $25 million renovation of our academic space, the addition of this advocacy courtroom places our facilities among the best in the nation.”
Other significant financial gifts for the project come from Robert Montgomery, of Robert M. Montgomery, Jr. & Associates in West Palm Beach, and the law firm of Kerrigan, Estess, McLeod & Thompson in Pensacola, both of which have exceptional trials record and were instrumental in representing the State of Florida in its $13 billion settlement against the tobacco industry.
The two-and-a-half story complex will feature a grand entry foyer, a fully functional trial and appellate courtroom with a 120-seat gallery and bench for seven judges, as well as 10 offices for retired faculty and four apartments for distinguished scholars and visitors. The new complex will extend from the west end of Bruton-Geer Hall.
Construction will begin in May 2007 and should be completed for fall 2008 classes, with the bulk of construction occurring over two summers to ensure limited disruption of classes.
In making the new facilities possible, Levin said, “Law school changed my whole life. It was there I found a sense of purpose, and fell in love with the logic and beauty of the law. My hope is that my gifts to the law school will ensure the college takes that next step to true greatness.”
Levin is well known as one of the most successful trial attorneys in the country. He has received more than 25 jury verdicts in excess of $1 million, including six in excess of $10 million. At various points in his career, he has held the national record for jury verdicts involving the wrongful deaths and claimed the largest personal injury verdict in Florida. He is a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, an organization limited to 100 members throughout the country.
Levin received the “Perry Nichols Award” in 1994, which is the highest honor bestowed by the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers to recognize a person’s lifetime achievements in the pursuit of justice.
In 1999, The National Law Journal named Levin as the top civil litigator in Florida and The National Law Journal named him as one of the “Top Ten Litigators for 1999,” both for plaintiff and defense counsel. That same year Levin was honored at the United Nations by being made a chief in the Republic of Ghana.
When asked about his greatest accomplishment, however, Levin named the rewriting and the passage of the Florida Medicaid Third Party Recovery Act in 1993, which permitted the State of Florida to sue the tobacco industry to recover expenditures for treating illnesses caused by cigarette smoking. The legislation eventually resulted in a landmark $13 billion settlement for the state.
Levin’s son, Martin — who graduated at the top of his class at Stanford in 1985 and in the number one spot of his UF law school class in 1988 — has achieved exceptional success in his own career.
As a practicing attorney and managing shareholder at Levin Papantonio, he has received 15 jury verdicts in excess of $1 million, including five in excess of $20 million. He is also the designer and developer of SmartJURY, a jury selection software program available commercially. Twenty of his writings (including a book on closing argument) have been published in legal journals.
He has received numerous awards, including The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award for Northwest Florida and selection by the American Bar Association Young Lawyer’s Division as one of 20 young attorneys nationwide to make a difference in the legal profession.
In 1998, Levin established, and currently serves as president of, the Levin & Papantonio Family Foundation, a non-profit foundation that assists individuals and organizations that care for and assist children with the basic needs of life.
He resigned his leadership position in Levin Papantonio in 2001 to attend Harvard Divinity School, where he received his Masters in Theology degree.
He currently serves as chief financial officer and general counsel for Consolidated Technology Solutions (CTS America), a privately held company engaged in system development, implementation and support services involving public safety, first responder and homeland security technology.
Levin also serves on the Board of Advisors for Harvard Divinity School, and will begin teaching trial law at New England Law School in Boston in the fall.
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