Tuesday, May 31, 2022

CLEA Outstanding Student Award: Florida's Taylor Oliver and Jessica Terkovich

CLEA Outstanding Clinical Student or Team Award: Taylor Oliver in Florida’s veterans and service members legal clinic:

The University of Florida Levin College of Law is delighted to announce that Taylor Oliver ‘22 is the recipient of the CLEA Outstanding Clinical Student Award. As a member of the Veterans and Service members Legal Clinic, Taylor drafted an outstanding conference memo. In doing this work, she independently identified novel legal issues, performed legal research about those issues, and adeptly tackled the issues. The memo was for a veteran’s appeal for disability compensation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Taylor interviewed the client to better understand the appellate record and the client’s interactions with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This client interview was particularly challenging because the client’s disabilities made it difficult for him to share his story. Therefore, his spouse participated in the conference call as well, and Taylor adapted well, eliciting key information and building rapport. Taylor helped review the 1,000 page appellate record to evaluate whether it was complete. She created a document log of key evidence and VA decisions in the appellate record and researched scientific information, federal statutes, regulations, and case law relevant to the issues on appeal and conducted a substantive record review to highlight record evidence supporting the veteran’s arguments. Taylor drafted an organized, insightful, and well written conference memo summarizing the issues for the staffing conference between the attorneys for the VA Office of General Counsel, the Central Legal Staff of the Court, and our team representing the veteran. The memo served as a summary of arguments to be made in the appellate brief. The excellent conference memo convinced the VA attorney to offer a remand to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, the optimum result for the veteran. Plus, both the VA attorney and the attorney from the Court commented that the memo was excellent and made their jobs easy.

CLEA Outstanding Externship Student Award: Jessica Terkovich:

Jessica Terkovich ’22 earned the CLEA Outstanding Externship Student Award for her outstanding work on a capital case as part of her externship with the 4th Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office Conviction Integrity Review Unit. Jess worked tirelessly to investigate a claim of factual innocence, including traveling to Jacksonville to review boxes of trial documents and evidence, to interview potential witnesses, and to examine the crime scene for investigative leads. Jess explored legal defenses and claims as well as factual anomalies in her effort to discover whether this incarcerated individual was wrongfully convicted. She encountered numerous challenges, including those from the incarcerated individual's own appellate team. Jess handled each roadblock with the skill and poise of a veteran lawyer and consistently impressed her supervisors with her communication skills and her determination to achieve justice. As part of a subsequent externship with the Norfolk Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, Jess ably handled a number of felony cases, notably assisting with a tragic case involving the accidental shooting of a young child. Her supervising attorney wrote of her many strengths, that she “takes great initiative in seeking out work and becoming involved in a variety of cases. She is a strong writer, conducts thorough research, and communicates well with attorneys. Given a legal question, she is consistently able to locate relevant cases and statutory authority, communicate her findings clearly, and craft arguments based on them.” UF Law is very pleased to honor Jess with this award!


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