From left, Jennifer Drake of Becker & Poliakoff; Errick Benson Peart; and the firm's Yolanda Jackson and Rosa de la Camara. (Photo: Nick Madigan/Miami Law)
A second-year Miami Law student, Errick Benson Peart, has won a paid summer internship with the law firm Becker & Poliakoff, as well as $5,000 to help pay for his last year in law school. The award is being made under the firm's Diversity Fellowship program, established in 2011 to offer law students from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to demonstrate their own commitment to diversity in the legal profession.
Peart, who is interning with Florida Supreme Court Justice James E. C. Perry until April, officially accepted the scholarship during an event in the law library reading room that was attended by several senior members of the firm, including Miami Law alumni Alan Becker, J.D. '69; Perry Adair, J.D. '84; and Rosa de la Camara, J.D. '85.
The firm's competition requires that recipients have outstanding academic credentials, demonstrate leadership ability and commitment to public service, and have made meaningful contributions to the diversity of their community. The Diversity Fellowship's first winners last year were Jennifer Jumbo-Davis, a second-year Miami Law student at the time, and Raciel Perez, who attends the University of Florida's Levin College of Law.
The announcement of Peart's scholarship was combined with a panel discussion on diversity that also served as a forum for advice for the students who attended, many of them members of minorities. "There's nothing like having a professional degree to call your own," Adair told the gathering. "Every single one of you is a better thinker now than when you started."
Adair said law students should not spend a lot of energy worrying about which field of law they will ultimately choose. "No one is going to have a problem with you not knowing precisely what niche of the law you want to practice in," he said.
Once in the profession, he went on, it is crucial that young lawyers be absolutely honest in their dealings. "Word gets around," he said. "Judges talk to each other. Integrity is really everything. Nothing is more important than your integrity."