At Howell and Christmas, we want to encourage and help students in the community who are considering earning a degree in law. Our $1,000 Visionary Scholarship is intended to make it easier for students to achieve their dream of becoming part of legal field. One of the criteria to win the scholarship is write an essay about one of three topics. This year’s winner, Alamea Deedee Bitran, focused on the Sixth Amendment, which grants Americans the right to a jury trial.
Finding an Interest in Law
Deedee graduated summa cum laude with a 3.99/4.0 GPA from the University of Florida in May 2012. She originally had no plans to go into law, majoring in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. However, that changed when she was a graduate student pursuing her doctorate in audiology. An attorney was a guest speaker in one of her clinical audiology courses and discussed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with the class. The attorney explained the different accommodations that audiologists and public schools must provide to patients to avoid incurring liability under the ADA. She was absolutely fascinated by the legal analysis involved.
As an audiology student clinician, she was also frustrated with not being able to fight for her clinical patients’ rights to various accommodations. At that moment she realized she could best assist the deaf population as an attorney, rather than as an audiologist. After finishing her audiology exams and completing her first year in her doctorate program, she took the June 2013 LSAT on two weeks’ notice. Taking the LSAT was a complete leap of faith. Florida International University Law accepted her within 48 hours of her scores being released in July 2013, and she began law school at FIU Law in August 2013. Deedee says that while this was a drastic and sudden career swap, it was the best decision she ever made.
Finding Success in Law School
While at FIU Law, she secured a ranking in the top 5 percent of her class. She says she never lost sight of why she initially decided to go to law school: to advocate for the rights of people who suffer from disabilities. She received CALI Book Awards for Excellence in Employment Law, Employment Discrimination, Medical Malpractice, and her Employment Discrimination Seminar.
In addition, she is President of FIU’s Employment and Labor Law Society, and she organizes events that bring in local employment discrimination practitioners to form professional relationships with FIU law students. She is also an Articles and Comments Editor on the FIU Law Review and a member of FIU Law’s appellate moot court team. Further, she is a research assistant to Professor Kerri Stone, who writes scholarship about disability discrimination, sexual harassment, and suggested reforms for workplace law under Title VII. Outside of FIU Law, she is the Membership Chair of ATID Young Jewish Professionals, which fundraises to build shelters for women of domestic violence throughout Israel.
Looking to the Future
Once she graduates, Deedee is looking forward to being an associate at Shutts & Bowen, LLP. She is not yet sure what specialty she will focus on, but she does have a passion for employment law. While in law school, she has made it her mission to learn as much as she can about the Americans with Disabilities Act and other ways people with disabilities can enforce their rights. This ability to fight for one’s rights was a major point of her winning essay.
According to the essay, the Sixth Amendment’s right to a jury trial serves as a safeguard against corruption tainting our judicial system. Her essay compared a world without a jury system to the backwards world described in Alice in Wonderland. Without our sacrosanct jury system, who or what would stop the “Queen of Hearts” from making arbitrary and irrational pronouncements of guilt and punishment?
Deedee says that ten years ago, she thought she was going to be an audiologist. Yet today, she could not be happier with her decision to pursue law school. She says she recognizes that life throws all sorts of unexpected, and sometimes wonderful, curve balls your way to reshape your carefully crafted “plans.” As such, she’s learned to embrace the curveballs and learn as much as she can.
The Howell and Christmas Visionary Scholarship is open to United States citizens and permanent residents who are currently enrolled in an accredited college or university. Applicants must have a GPA of 2.8 or higher and apply winnings to their current term’s tuition. For more information, visit our scholarship page or contact us today.