Life in Gulfport’s pink moorish castle was a lonely existence for single law students like me in 1964 when I started at Stetson Law School. We were intimidated by the odds of making it through — which were probably about 50%. Stetson was not easy. A lot of our comrades transferred to easier schools. Some flunked out. Those of us looking there for young women to date were out of luck. The school had but a handful of female students, all married. My beer budget dramatically decreased and my grades considerably improved after I married during my law school career.
I entered after three years of college under the combined degree program which allowed a student who had completed all required college courses to complete law school and college in six years instead of seven. If you failed to complete law school you had neither a law degree nor a college degree. If you made it through you had both. Being young and naive, I never considered not making it.
Stetson then and now trains its students through the time tested program of teaching its students to stand up and defend their analysis of the particular legal principles expressed in reported cases. It is a method to train trial lawyers which works well. When you are in court arguing, nobody helps you. Stetson is ranked #1 in trial advocacy by U.S. News & World Report (2023-2024).
Back at Stetson Law
In those days, your grade was entirely (or mostly) dependent upon the final exam. No pressure there. We had a mid-semester practice exam so you could see how you were doing. I remember a fellow student telling me after the test results were published that he used to think I was stupid but after seeing my grades on the practice exam he wanted to be my friend. Lucky me.
The school trained us well. My 52 year legal career involved extensive trial work and I am grateful for the training I received at Stetson. I served for almost 20 years as the St. Petersburg City Attorney. One of my classmates had a long tenure as the Orlando City Attorney. One of my January graduating classmates had a long and distinguished career as a circuit judge. The demographics were quite different in those days. The yearbook lists about 70 in the graduating classes for 1967, of which only three were female and none were Black. I was a guest lecturer at the law school for a number of years. My classes were usually about half female, with Black students represented.
The school was small enough that you got to know your professors as well as your fellow students. I have fond memories of those intense times at the law school.