Miami Law Student Receives Prestigious “Outstanding Law Student” Award

The National Association of Women Lawyers annually presents an award to an exceptional female law student who is in her graduating year.
Miami Law Student Receives Prestigious “Outstanding Law Student” Award
Danielle Berkowitz, 3L

Danielle Berkowitz, a third-year law student with an interest in litigation, was recently honored with the Outstanding Law Student Award by the National Association of Women Lawyers. Her nomination came from the Dean of Students, Janet Stearns. The prestigious award recognizes a student who not only excels academically but also shows remarkable motivation, tenacity, and enthusiasm, alongside significant contributions to the advancement of women in society.

“Being named an Outstanding Law Student by NAWL was a huge, unexpected honor,” said Berkowitz. “I am surrounded by academically driven, altruistically motivated, high achieving, change-making peers at UM, whom I am constantly in awe of their accomplishments and motivations. The characteristics that NAWL emphasizes through this award have always been traits that I have strived to achieve, through the hand-picked activities and organizations that I have devoted my time and energy to during law school, but traits I never imagined being recognized for. Thank you to the law school for giving me this opportunity and honor.”

Since 1899, NAWL has been empowering women in the legal profession, cultivating a diverse membership dedicated to equality, mutual support, and collective success.

Berkowitz, who received her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Tulane University, has had a varied and successful career at Miami Law. Ranked in the top 25 in her class, she has been on the dean’s list for several semesters, received honors in the Litigation Skills Program, and was awarded the Dean’s Certificate of Achievement Award in the Legal Malpractice Seminar, which is given to one student in the class identified by the professor as doing exceptional work.

Throughout her 2L year, Berkowitz was involved with a legal writing program with Exchange for Change, led by Professor Shara Pelz, where she taught incarcerated women in the Homestead Correctional Institute basic writing skills to empower them to pursue their cases. This year, she is teaching incarcerated men at the Everglades Correctional Institution. 

“Being able to get to know these incarcerated people within the backdrop of a prison setting has combated many widely held stereotypes about what it means to be a 'criminal' and has even stripped down some biases I had on my own,” said Berkowitz. “Our students are extremely grateful for the time that we dedicate to them, but what they do not realize is the immense positive impact they have on us. While we volunteers have the luxury of walking out of the prison at the end of the lesson, our students do not have the same ability. Each time it is a poignant moment and something that I will carry with me into a future career in public defense.”

Last summer, Berkowitz was a summer clerk with the MacArthur Justice Center in New Orleans, visiting clients in the Louisiana State Penitentiary and assisting with motions to the Louisiana Supreme Court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. She also participated in an externship with Miami-Dade’s Public Defender, Carlos Martinez.

One of Berkowitz’s favorite experiences at Miami Law has been her involvement with the Student Ambassador Program, which assists in student recruitment. 

“A highlight of my law school experience has been being a Miami Law Ambassador and getting to share my law school experience with prospective students and help them begin their own journey. Because I know the difference that having support makes, demystifying what law school is all about to those who might not know what they are walking into has been something I have loved. I have been able to meet a ton of new people, create long-lasting connections, and hopefully help a few future law students and lawyers!”

After graduating in May and passing the Florida Bar exam, Berkowitz will start her “dream job” as an assistant public defender at the Office of the Public Defender, 15th Judicial Circuit in West Palm Beach.

“I am excited to serve the community, protect our most vulnerable people, and ensure that justice is something that is attainable for all people,” said Berkowitz. “I hope to eventually work in the juvenile division to pursue my passion for juvenile justice work.”

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