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Good Lawyers Do Good Things, Panel on Giving is Told

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From left, Elizabeth B. Honkonen, Detra Shaw-Wilder, Dean Patricia D. White, Tod N. Aronovitz and Warren T. Zinn.

Before the 'Giving Back to U' panel discussion, from left, Elizabeth B. Honkonen, Detra Shaw-Wilder, Dean Patricia D. White, Tod N. Aronovitz and Warren T. Zinn. (Photo: Catharine Skipp/Miami Law) Full-Size Photo

In the string of events staged at Miami Law as part of Philanthropy Week, none came as close to the crux of the matter as a panel titled simply "Giving Back to U."

Presented by the Law Alumni Association, the Society of Bar & Gavel and the Student Bar Association, the panel comprised four Miami Law alums who have made it a point not only to support the law school at which they obtained their degrees, but to do work that exemplifies generosity and selflessness.

"You can't be a great lawyer unless you're a good person," said Tod N. Aronovitz, JD '74, a former president of the Law Alumni Association and the Florida Bar, who added that making an effort to be kind "is good for the community and it's good for you."

Aronovitz, who specializes in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases, said he is "trying as hard as I can to get my baby-boomer friends" to contribute to Miami Law.

Detra Shaw-Wilder, JD '94, who works on contract disputes, commercial foreclosures and employment law cases, said that "being a lawyer is what I do, and a human being is what I am." She predicted that, once they graduate from Miami Law, the students in the room "will look back at this place with some fondness."

Warren T. Zinn, JD '09, a former combat photographer for Army Times who focuses on criminal defense, recognized the likely financial constraints endured by young lawyers in a nascent career, but encouraged altruism nonetheless. "You may not be able to donate money, but you can donate time," Zinn said, noting that there are all sorts of potential pro-bono clients who need representation. As far as giving to the law school, he said, a mere $10 a month would make all the difference.

The panel discussion, held on Thursday in the Alma Jennings Foundation Student Lounge, was moderated by another former Law Alumni Association president, Elizabeth B. Honkonen, JD '98. Those in the audience included Georgina Angones, Assistant Dean for Alumni Relations and Development, who recalled volunteering at a public library as a young mother and taking her young son with her.

Later, Angones thanked the panelists in an e-mail, telling them that their message "was very important and very well received by those who attended."