Mother and Son Navigate the Law School Experience

Jessica Knopf and Josh Benzadon found strength and value in attending the School of Law together.
Mother and Son Navigate the Law School Experience
Jessica Knopf, 2L, with son Josh Benzadon, 3L. Photo by Joshua Prezant.

For graduating third-year Josh Benzadon, everything crystalized his sophomore year at the University of Texas at Austin. He took a couple of business law classes, and "it was the first time I read a textbook cover to cover."

For his mother, Jessica Knopf, law school was a long-held goal, and with her youngest leaving to begin college, "it just felt like the right time for me."

When Knopf arrived at Miami Law, Benzadon already had his first year in his rearview mirror. 

"It was definitely a bit strange at first to see my mom on campus with her rolling backpack, walking around the bricks and such," said Benzadon. "However, as time passed, it became a part of my daily joy. I grew to love having her there, sharing classes, giving her advice, and discussing what we learned over dinner most nights." 

For Knopf, it's been "like having my own personal advisor.

"It was incredibly beneficial that Josh had already 'forged a path' because observing his experiences during the first year helped me really understand the reality of the demands on a law student. Additionally, he has been an invaluable resource, offering advice on managing the workload, strategies for studying and taking exams, recommendations for courses, and most importantly, giving me emotional support throughout."

They are pursuing different paths post-law school.

As an undergraduate, Benzadon was mentored by a professor with extensive legal experience as general counsel for the San Antonio Spurs, deepening his interest in law. "But it was my volunteering at Catholic Legal Services that sealed my decision. Hearing daily the fears of immigrants facing deportation while helping them fill out their asylum applications, I felt a profound call to action. 

"The combination of academic intrigue and real-world impact made law school, particularly at Miami Law with its strong focus on immigration and social justice, the undeniable next step for me," he said.

 During the COVID-19 lockdown, Benzadon found himself "captivated by the world of Bitcoin and blockchain technology, spending entire nights watching YouTube videos, reading whitepapers and articles, pretty much spellbound by the potential of this technology. Blockchain tech kicked off this unstoppable thirst for knowledge that's totally shifted my career path and dreams and has ultimately motivated me to dedicate my career to harnessing the transformative power of technology through the law."

For Knopf, after a decade at Disney and another 20 years building small businesses, she realized the importance of knowing the law and its application in so many aspects of business. 

"During my years at Disney Consumer Products, I worked closely with our in-house counsel on licensing contracts which spurred my interest in intellectual property and business law," she said. "I'd been thinking about going to law school for many years and I was fortunate to have Miami Law as an excellent option as I was not in a position to apply to a school outside of the area."

When Knopf started at Miami Law, she had initially planned to help small businesses get up and running, "but now I've become interested in so many areas of the law—including hospitality/alcohol beverage law and mediation—that I'm not entirely sure where I'll focus. I do know that whatever I decide, it will definitely be on the transactional side."

Benzadon used his networking skills to connect with those working in the crypto space, including School of Law alumni Justin Wales, head of legal for the Americas at Following up on every lead, he connected and secured a summer associate position in the venture technology group at Dentons during his 1L and 2L years. After graduation, he will join the firm as an incoming associate/law clerk in New York.

The family will gather soon for a big double celebration, Mother's Day, and Benzadon's graduation. "My parents will be in town for Josh's graduation as well as Mother's Day!" Knopf said. "We'll probably go out for a nice meal and just enjoy spending the day together which we don't get to do very often."

As a mother prepares for her last year of law school and a son moves to New York, Benzadon said, "it turned out to be an incredible experience that not many people get to say they had and I will cherish it forever."

Read more about Miami Law’s areas of study.