Campus Life

UWF provides law school students with the tools to succeed

The University of West Florida School of Justice Studies and Social Work and the Professional Pre-Law Fraternity Phi Alpha Delta hosted a Judicial Candidate Public Forum July 28 for those running for the position of Florida first judicial circuit judge.

Phi Alpha Delta hosts events such as this to provide UWF students involved with law studies the opportunity to meet and interact with important political figures. The society frequently invites professionals in their field such as attorneys and law school admissions officers to interact with them on a personal level while gaining guidance on their path to law school.

“Circuit court is the most serious court in our area,” said Michael Flowers, one of six candidates running for judge of the first judicial court circuit as he answered a question posed by a student in the audience. “It is not a place to learn, it is a place for someone with experience.”

Candidates in attendance were Alishia McDonald, Clint Davis, Flowers, Kenneth Brooks, Robert McGill III and Mike Lawson. Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties are all included in the first judicial court circuit.

This public forum is just one of the many exciting opportunities students involved with the School of Justice Studies and Social Work are offered. In the past year UWF has unveiled a new Mock Trial Court room, a 1,500 square foot high-tech space designed to provide students with every resource they need to better their skills in debate. The room is designed to look exactly as a real court room would, and features numerous cameras and presentation systems to provide optimum feedback on performance. All these features give students a “home-field advantage,” allowing them to feel more comfortable in this type of real-world environment.

“It’s been a wonderful learning laboratory,” said Kimberly Tatum, legal studies professor at UWF as well as faculty advisor of the Mock Trial Court Team. “For teaching purposes it’s super because you can actually simulate a mock trial.”

The UWF Mock Trial Court Team is part of the American Mock Trial Association. Being a part of this team offers students the opportunity to take part in mock trials and defend cases against other undergraduate students in preparation for grad school.

“The coolest thing is I’ve had a student come back and tell me, ‘My favorite part of my experience at UWF was being on the mock trial team. It really gave me an edge when I came to law school’,” said Tatum.

Many students on the Mock Trial Team have gone on to be accepted to top law schools and become prestigious attorneys and judges.

This fall, the Mock Trial Court Room will be utilized by the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) to conduct administrative hearings, which will allow students the opportunity to watch real court proceedings without having to leave campus.

For more information, visit the UWF School of Justice Studies and Social Work Web site or contact Kimberly Tatum at (850) 857-6198 or

By Kelly Dieckmann, University Communications