The $2,500 Law School Scholarship from The Law Place is all about honoring the heroes who inspire students to become attorneys. For University of Florida graduate Andrew Van Ness, that hero is Professor Samuel Stafford. A Judicial Hearing Officer and professor for many years, Stafford helped ignite Van Ness’ passion for civil liberties.
Why Van Ness Looks Up to Professor Stafford
“Over the course of 3 semesters, or roughly 500 days, Professor Stafford opened my mind to a whole new world of legal interpretation,” writes Andrew Van Ness in his award-winning essay.
While Professor Stafford has a reputation for being intense, including not letting students bring coffee or snacks into his early-morning lectures, Van Ness’ experience was challenging and sparked what will surely be a lifelong passion for liberty and the Constitution.
In one of his courses under Professor Stafford, Van Ness was taken on a tour of a local jail as well as a tour through the university’s extensive legal library. “Professor Stafford gave
me the opportunity to peek through a small hole and have a sense of what I am sure many
attorneys feel on a weekly basis,” Van Ness wrote.
In short, the enthusiasm and intensity of Professor Stafford has directly changed Andrew Van Ness’ life. “It was not until Professor Stafford strategically utilized case law and a strong dedication to his students that I truly knew my calling was to defend the letter of the law.”
Future Plans for Van Ness
After graduating from the University of Florida, Van Ness now attends the Florida State University College of Law. There, he is a member of the UF-to-FSU group LitiGATORS and has been accepted as a member of the school’s Trial Team.
“Currently, I am focusing on all things litigation, with a special interest in Civil Litigation and Real Estate,” he told representatives of The Law Place. “I am pursuing a Business Law Certificate along with my juris doctor, and plan to graduate in May of 2024.”
His plan is to remain in or near Sarasota, Florida, work with skilled attorneys to hone his own skills at litigation, and eventually open his own firm in the Sarasota/Tampa area.
As attorneys who serve clients in a variety of areas, The Law Place is glad to support the education of a student with a true passion for civil liberties. We are confident that Andrew Van Ness will approach his law career with the same diligence and dedication that we strive for.
You can read Andrew’s winning essay here.