It took 10 years, but Santomauro is now a lawyer

first_img It took 10 years, but Santomauro is now a lawyer Of the 111 Barry students affected, 65 graduated a second time, five came back but didn’t finish, and another six are still in school Jan Pudlow Senior Editor Here’s how driven Rodd Santomauro was to become a lawyer: As a 17-year-old kid, he chose to compete in a moot court national competition, rather than take his girlfriend to the Coral Springs High prom.“the time I got back, we were no longer together,” Santomauro says with a laugh. “She went to prom with someone else.”How much did Santomauro want to be a lawyer in Florida?So much so that he endured going to law school not once—but twice—and sweated through taking the bar exam a double nerve-wracking time.That’s because Santomauro, along with 110 of his fellow students, got caught in the Barry University Orlando Law School accreditation quagmire.Their law degrees were deemed useless and their bar exam results impounded because they graduated in January, June, and July 2000—more than 12 months earlier than the ABA’s February 4, 2002, decision to grant Barry provisional accreditation.But Santomauro’s story—a 16-year odyssey of going to Barry as a pre-law undergraduate in 1989, then working full-time while going through law school twice—has a happy ending. His boyhood dream of becoming a lawyer has finally come true.At last, 34-year-old Santomauro was officially sworn in as a Florida lawyer April 22. Not only is he a lawyer, his name went on the door as a junior partner at Camfield & Santomauro in Palm Bay.That day in a courtroom, when a judge swore him in as an official member of The Florida Bar, Santomauro said he was filled with great relief and pride, as well as thinking: “Finally, I got what I consider to be justice. That gives me hope for a bright future. If I followed the rules, it may take a lot longer than it took some people. But right did outweigh wrong. And good did triumph over evil. I got a taste of the adversarial system a lot earlier. ”Standing in the wings holding crisp new law firm letterhead stationery embossed with Santomauro’s name was Gray Camfield, who had hired Santomauro as a law clerk years earlier and promised to make him partner once he passed the bar.“He was my first-round draft pick. I know how talented he is. He was worth waiting for,” Camfield said.But he hoped to shorten that wait by writing a letter to the Supreme Court in July 2003: “The delay in the receipt of his license has caused a hardship to my practice. Based on his performance and professionalism, I am writing to recommend that this class of students who attended Barry University School of Law, but have been unable to receive their bar examination results and their license, be allowed to do so.”That didn’t happen.So Santomauro, the second-time-around Barry law student, continued to juggle law school and his job, driving the 80-mile one-way commute to Palm Bay to keep working as Camfield’s law clerk. And Santomauro kept on living with his parents while dealing with a $100,000 student loan debt.“There were times. . . that I was not really sure when my lifelong dream was going to be realized,” Santomauro said. “Meanwhile, these precious years are ticking off our career clocks. I did question my purpose, as far as my career goals. Why is this happening to us?”He wasn’t the only one struggling with frustration. Of the 111 Barry law students affected, said Barry Law School Registrar Julie Hagaman, 65 graduated a second time, five came back but didn’t finish, and another half dozen are still in school.A number of students — about a half dozen — chose to take the bar exam in other states that allow a graduate of a school approved by the ABA (rather than at the time of graduation like Florida) to take the bar exam, said Stanley Talcott, former dean of Barry’s law school during the turbulent accreditation times, now a professor at Barry.“When I was dean, I had a Dean’s Award given to a student that in my sole judgment exhibited qualities that will ultimately lead to a successful career as an attorney. Rodd won that award,” Talcott said.“I have heard it said that adversity doesn’t build character, but it does reveal it. There may be a lot to be said for that.. . . The early students—not to take anything away from our current students—but that early group was a special group of people. As difficult as it was for them, they stuck it out. I have nothing but admiration for them.”There were those students who gave up on a legal career, because they couldn’t afford the delay in making a living, even though going to Barry again would cost them nothing in tuition and they were given 30 hours of credit out of 90 needed to graduate again.Santomauro said he thought about a classmate who took out a second mortgage and had three kids, and it made him realize how blessed he was.“I had a great employer, a supportive family and friends,” he said. “I had a mind that was young and sharp and could adjust and have the tenacity to see this through.”While he had a lot of legal experience—as a paralegal, a law clerk, and adjunct professor teaching procedure at Florida Metropolitan—he was blocked from being able to give legal advice and help people.“The frustration was the fuel for the fire that got me through,” Santomauro said. “I was denied before, and I am not going to be denied again.”He gives credit to his parents — Rod and Mary Jean Santomauro — for giving him pep talks when he was at his lowest point.“They said, ‘You know, Rodd, since you were a young man you had these dreams and you had these beliefs. Don’t look at the inaction of others as a reason your dream shouldn’t be realized. You go forward with your dream.’”Santomauro’s realized dream has taken on an added glow. The weekend before the Monday he was to learn how he fared on his second bar exam, he asked his girlfriend to marry him. His fiancee, Candice Johnson, has two children, ages 14 and 3. So Santomauro will have an instant family, and they plan to marry on March 24, 2006, the anniversary of Santomauro’s parents.“He could have gotten a double zinger—a ‘no’ answer from his girlfriend and then be told on Monday he didn’t pass the bar exam,” Camfield said.“He got a positive on both of them. He has really matured in the two years I’ve known him. He is a very charismatic and confident individual. In some instances, it would have been my opinion that maybe he was too confident.” Camfield said.“But with these hardships he has had to go through, it has beat him down and cut him down, and he’s more humble than ever. With his humility it has changed him in many ways. He has gone through the school of hard knocks.”Another of Santomauro’s law professors has seen that change in her repeat student, too.“I saw him mature from a kid to a young adult who has his feet on the ground and knows what he wants to do, who has put his heart and soul into it,” said Professor Terri Day, who teaches professional responsibility and torts.“He realizes the great gift it is to be a lawyer. He is going to use that gift with the highest standards of professionalism.”Day speaks highly of all of the returning Barry law students, who had to deal with anger and frustration and high emotions in having to do it all again.“Initially, the students affected were angry, and anybody would be,” Day said. “Some came back with chips on the shoulders. Some would start crying whenever they got close to the law school.“But that anger dissipated very quickly. I attribute it to their good character and their dedication and commitment to becoming lawyers,” Day said. June 15, 2005 Senior Editor Regular News It took 10 years, but Santomauro is now a lawyerlast_img

first_img It took 10 years, but Santomauro is now a lawyer Of the 111 Barry students affected, 65 graduated a second time, five came back but didn’t finish, and another six are still in school Jan Pudlow Senior Editor Here’s how driven Rodd Santomauro was to become a lawyer: As a 17-year-old kid, he chose to compete in a moot court national competition, rather than take his girlfriend to the Coral Springs High prom.“the time I got back, we were no longer together,” Santomauro says with a laugh. “She went to prom with someone else.”How much did Santomauro want to be a lawyer in Florida?So much so that he endured going to law school not once—but twice—and sweated through taking the bar exam a double nerve-wracking time.That’s because Santomauro, along with 110 of his fellow students, got caught in the Barry University Orlando Law School accreditation quagmire.Their law degrees were deemed useless and their bar exam results impounded because they graduated in January, June, and July 2000—more than 12 months earlier than the ABA’s February 4, 2002, decision to grant Barry provisional accreditation.But Santomauro’s story—a 16-year odyssey of going to Barry as a pre-law undergraduate in 1989, then working full-time while going through law school twice—has a happy ending. His boyhood dream of becoming a lawyer has finally come true.At last, 34-year-old Santomauro was officially sworn in as a Florida lawyer April 22. Not only is he a lawyer, his name went on the door as a junior partner at Camfield & Santomauro in Palm Bay.That day in a courtroom, when a judge swore him in as an official member of The Florida Bar, Santomauro said he was filled with great relief and pride, as well as thinking: “Finally, I got what I consider to be justice. That gives me hope for a bright future. If I followed the rules, it may take a lot longer than it took some people. But right did outweigh wrong. And good did triumph over evil. I got a taste of the adversarial system a lot earlier. ”Standing in the wings holding crisp new law firm letterhead stationery embossed with Santomauro’s name was Gray Camfield, who had hired Santomauro as a law clerk years earlier and promised to make him partner once he passed the bar.“He was my first-round draft pick. I know how talented he is. He was worth waiting for,” Camfield said.But he hoped to shorten that wait by writing a letter to the Supreme Court in July 2003: “The delay in the receipt of his license has caused a hardship to my practice. Based on his performance and professionalism, I am writing to recommend that this class of students who attended Barry University School of Law, but have been unable to receive their bar examination results and their license, be allowed to do so.”That didn’t happen.So Santomauro, the second-time-around Barry law student, continued to juggle law school and his job, driving the 80-mile one-way commute to Palm Bay to keep working as Camfield’s law clerk. And Santomauro kept on living with his parents while dealing with a $100,000 student loan debt.“There were times. . . that I was not really sure when my lifelong dream was going to be realized,” Santomauro said. “Meanwhile, these precious years are ticking off our career clocks. I did question my purpose, as far as my career goals. Why is this happening to us?”He wasn’t the only one struggling with frustration. Of the 111 Barry law students affected, said Barry Law School Registrar Julie Hagaman, 65 graduated a second time, five came back but didn’t finish, and another half dozen are still in school.A number of students — about a half dozen — chose to take the bar exam in other states that allow a graduate of a school approved by the ABA (rather than at the time of graduation like Florida) to take the bar exam, said Stanley Talcott, former dean of Barry’s law school during the turbulent accreditation times, now a professor at Barry.“When I was dean, I had a Dean’s Award given to a student that in my sole judgment exhibited qualities that will ultimately lead to a successful career as an attorney. Rodd won that award,” Talcott said.“I have heard it said that adversity doesn’t build character, but it does reveal it. There may be a lot to be said for that.. . . The early students—not to take anything away from our current students—but that early group was a special group of people. As difficult as it was for them, they stuck it out. I have nothing but admiration for them.”There were those students who gave up on a legal career, because they couldn’t afford the delay in making a living, even though going to Barry again would cost them nothing in tuition and they were given 30 hours of credit out of 90 needed to graduate again.Santomauro said he thought about a classmate who took out a second mortgage and had three kids, and it made him realize how blessed he was.“I had a great employer, a supportive family and friends,” he said. “I had a mind that was young and sharp and could adjust and have the tenacity to see this through.”While he had a lot of legal experience—as a paralegal, a law clerk, and adjunct professor teaching procedure at Florida Metropolitan—he was blocked from being able to give legal advice and help people.“The frustration was the fuel for the fire that got me through,” Santomauro said. “I was denied before, and I am not going to be denied again.”He gives credit to his parents — Rod and Mary Jean Santomauro — for giving him pep talks when he was at his lowest point.“They said, ‘You know, Rodd, since you were a young man you had these dreams and you had these beliefs. Don’t look at the inaction of others as a reason your dream shouldn’t be realized. You go forward with your dream.’”Santomauro’s realized dream has taken on an added glow. The weekend before the Monday he was to learn how he fared on his second bar exam, he asked his girlfriend to marry him. His fiancee, Candice Johnson, has two children, ages 14 and 3. So Santomauro will have an instant family, and they plan to marry on March 24, 2006, the anniversary of Santomauro’s parents.“He could have gotten a double zinger—a ‘no’ answer from his girlfriend and then be told on Monday he didn’t pass the bar exam,” Camfield said.“He got a positive on both of them. He has really matured in the two years I’ve known him. He is a very charismatic and confident individual. In some instances, it would have been my opinion that maybe he was too confident.” Camfield said.“But with these hardships he has had to go through, it has beat him down and cut him down, and he’s more humble than ever. With his humility it has changed him in many ways. He has gone through the school of hard knocks.”Another of Santomauro’s law professors has seen that change in her repeat student, too.“I saw him mature from a kid to a young adult who has his feet on the ground and knows what he wants to do, who has put his heart and soul into it,” said Professor Terri Day, who teaches professional responsibility and torts.“He realizes the great gift it is to be a lawyer. He is going to use that gift with the highest standards of professionalism.”Day speaks highly of all of the returning Barry law students, who had to deal with anger and frustration and high emotions in having to do it all again.“Initially, the students affected were angry, and anybody would be,” Day said. “Some came back with chips on the shoulders. Some would start crying whenever they got close to the law school.“But that anger dissipated very quickly. I attribute it to their good character and their dedication and commitment to becoming lawyers,” Day said. June 15, 2005 Senior Editor Regular News It took 10 years, but Santomauro is now a lawyerlast_img

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