Several years ago, Lee Michaels, our senior member, was asked and agreed to endow this significant scholarship and award at Syracuse University College of Law recognizing a second-year top trial or appellate advocacy student. The primary goal in initiating this scholarship/award was to help a worthy student, but it was also aimed at attracting fresh applicants interested in advocacy to the law school. That secondary purpose seems to be working out: The law school has risen significantly in the national law school rankings, in two tabulations, ranking 10th and 11th in the USA.
This year we are pleased introduce to our readers the third, and the first female winner, of the Michaels Award and Scholarship: Marina De Rosa. Marina was born in New York, and lived in Staten Island until her family made the decision to move to Florida. While she often traveled back and forth between the two states, she decided to go to college in Florida, attending Florida State University, one of SU’s regular rivals in the Atlantic Coast Conference. After four years, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice, a minor in Creative Writing, and a certificate in U.S. Intelligence Studies. Upon graduating from Florida State, she made the decision to go back to her first home, moving north once more to attend Syracuse University College of Law. The decision was an easy one, as the College of Law had the Institute for Security Policy and Law program, renowned faculty members, and a 24-hour library. These features of Syracuse’s program won Marina over.
During her time at the College of Law, Marina pursued her passion for trial advocacy. As an “arguing” member of the intercollegiate trial team, she competed in two different trial competitions in the 2020-2021 academic year. During the fall semester, she had the pleasure of representing the College of Law at the “Tournament of Champions.” She was also a member of the “National Trial Competition” team in the Spring of 2021. During the National Trial Competition, her partner and she won first place in their Region and advanced to the National rounds. Additionally, she won Best Closing Argument in the Regional round. She plans to continue competing on the trial team during the 2021-2022 school year, and hopes to achieve similar success.
Marina has always had a passion for helping those who are less fortunate than her. Through her legal career she has felt that passion grow, especially in the fields of criminal and immigration law. It is because of her passion in these areas that she intends to help indigent community members and immigrants in their fight for a better life. In an effort to accomplish this goal, she hopes to become a public defender in the state of New York. Ideally, she would like to do this work in a major metropolitan area, such as New York City, where she can be in a position to assist larger communities.
Marina also aspires to work for underprivileged communities in her pro-bono work. During her undergraduate studies she gained an appreciation for helping victims of human trafficking and hopes to volunteer her time working on trafficking victims’ legal issues and helping them to attain visas, housing, and employment. These passions drive her to continue her legal career and she hopes to reach new heights, both academically and professionally, in the future.
Congratulations Marina! The first two winners of the award and scholarship have left some big shoes to fill, but we are confident you will do just fine. Lee and the other members of Michaels & Smolak are proud to have you as a Lee Michaels Advocate!
The Michaels & Smolak Team.