Judge Scott Silverman of the 11th Judicial Circuit visited with 40 Legal Communications and Research Skills students at Miami Law on Tuesday. Coordinated by LComm Professor Christina M. Frohock, the intimate gathering helped strengthen the subject matters taught in LComm, such as professionalism and clarity in communication.
"What I wanted to do was reinforce the themes that we teach from a judge's perspective," Frohock said, "and what it looks like to be a recipient of the lawyer's work." LComm, which is in its second year, is dedicated to teaching first-year students how to create efficient research designs, conduct sophisticated legal analysis, draft legal documents geared to the reality of practice, and become effective communicators.
Being able to have a real judge in the class "was just extraordinary."
Judge Silverman was elected as a Dade County Court judge in 1990. As a county court judge, he served in the criminal division. From 1997 through 1999, Judge Silverman served as the Associate Administrative Judge for Traffic Related Matters for Miami-Dade County. Elected in 1998, Judge Silverman took office to the Eleventh Circuit Court bench in January of 1999. There, he has served in the criminal division, civil division, and family division. Judge Silverman is a former two-time chair of the Florida Supreme Court's Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, and a former chair of the Florida Bar's Committee on the Rules of Judicial Administration.
The students, many of who sat mesmerized by their guest, were happy for the experience.
"I thought it was really enlightening," Andreea Radulescu said. "I thought it was really helpful." She enjoyed being able to gain a perspective of the courtroom that put it into context with what she had learned in class.
"Be concise, be clear and be well-pointed," Judge Silverman said to the class. All too often the judge sees lawyers who approach the bench with ill-prepared cases, and poorly constructed arguments. "You can make a big difference by being well prepared," he said.
He went on to debunk the myth that judges know absolutely everything about every case and law. "Assume we know nothing," he said. Of all the cases they have to view, it's not always easy, or even possible, to recall what case comes before them. And for that reason, the lawyers have to become teachers to the judges. Lawyers can do so by presenting the significant details about the case and pertinent information in just a few sentences.
That information was more than refreshing for Amir Whitaker, who felt Silverman's humbling approach will make law school less stressful.
"He didn't seem like one of those judges on TV," said Whitaker. For the first time, he's considering being a judge as a possible career path. "Judge Silverman seems very approachable."
Professor Frohock admitted that a lot of the items the judge touched on reflect lessons she reviews in class, but she understands that it is different to hear it from a real judge. "My goal of bringing him in is that I wanted it to click."