Law Student Helping the Local Community
Martavis Clarke, together with fellow NSU Law Center student Lydia Charles, is helping to make advance health care planning better for Creole speaking Floridians. As part of his work toward satisfying requirements for his certification in health law, Clarke teamed up with Charles to create Creole translations of Florida's advance directive forms and post them on the Web site of Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration. A class of 2012 graduate, Clarke, who graduated cum laude, was awarded the 2012 Dean's Award for Leadership and Service to the Community at the Law Center's May commencement ceremony. In the fall, he will continue his legal studies by pursuing an LL.M. in Health Law at Seton Hall Law in Newark.
Why did you choose to go to law school?
I am a first-generation, professional degree student from Prince George, Virginia. I completed high school a year early and enrolled at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. There, I studied criminal justice. After I finished my undergraduate degree, I knew I wanted to study law. I was admitted to NSU's Alternative Admissions Model Program for Legal Education (AAMPLE) and spent the summer of 2007 studying criminal procedure and negotiable instruments. I studied day in and day out! During that time, I also worked on getting my Master of Public Administration degree from Florida International University, where I graduated magna cum laude. I took the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) again and was granted unconditional acceptance to NSU's Shepard Broad Law Center for the fall of 2009. Because of the opportunity that the NSU Law Center provided to me, I wanted to be an exemplary law student. This year, I graduated from the Law Center with honors, and I was the recipient of the Dean's Award at the commencement ceremony.
Who or what influenced your decision to become a lawyer?
I grew up during a time, and in a place, with people who were ignorant to mental conditions. As a result of ignorance to the issue, the political, social, and economic climate with respect to individuals with disabilities reflected the attitudes of those in power. Public agencies that were established to support and ensure the best quality of life for their patients often times are overwhelmed, overworked, and short staffed. I found myself, as a child, assisting my mother in caring for my brother, who was born with a mental impairment and would have the mind of a two-year-old for the rest of his life. My brother matriculated through a school system that eventually experienced a significant decrease in funds. As a result, his program suffered. The more my brother aged, the more the services available to him decreased. From that point in my life, I discovered that I not only wanted to be an attorney, but a health law attorney. Seeing my brother and others like him continues to motivate me. I would like to establish a health care research facility and other agencies that provide support and services to people who have a similar impairment.
What are your favorite memories of the Law Center?
One of my favorite memories would definitely have to be the first day of class. I was in Mark Dobson's Criminal Law course, and I was the first person he called on. I remember him yelling my last name across the lecture room filled with 60 students. Both Evidence and Criminal Law with him were challenging, but I loved the subject matter. I thoroughly enjoyed Kathy Cerminara's Torts class, and she later became my health law mentor. I enjoyed learning from her so much; I decided I wanted to earn a concentration in health law. I also really enjoyed Areto Imoukheude's first-year Contracts course. Another great moment was when I won the Feinrider First-Year Competition, which was a great opportunity to become involved in Moot Court. The Public Interest Law Society (PILS) auction and the LAMBDA United fund-raisers are both great memories as well. I had the opportunity to give back to the community and the Law Center's student body. Planning, organizing, and facilitating the programs was exhausting, but the end result was very fulfilling. I have always participated in philanthropic efforts. Before attending law school, I was a board member with the Friends of Gusman in Miami, which is the fundraising arm of the Gusman Theater. As an undergraduate student, I participated in many events with organizations to benefit disadvantaged children in the community. I knew I would continue to help the community at large as a law student. It also helped that I was friends with the former presidents of the organizations, so that made carrying the torch much more worthwhile.
Describe your experience in externship program and one of your favorite moments.
I participated in the Business Practice externship. My externship placement was at Baptist Health South Florida. I really enjoyed the board meetings as they were great opportunities to be able to observe the interplay between the law and hospital administration. I also worked on several contracts and negotiations. The experience was practical, and I learned a lot about administrative law as it relates to health care law.
How did you and Lydia Charles make advance health care planning better for Creole speaking Floridians? How did that opportunity come about?
As part of our work toward satisfying the health law concentration requirements, Lydia Charles and I teamed up to have Creole translations of Florida's advance directive forms posted on the Web site of Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration. Lydia translated the documents into Creole, and I made the connection with the agency and worked with the director there to have them published on the Web site. Kathy Cerminara emailed me and told me about the project. She thought I would be perfect for it, as I was interested in health law and helping the community. I am proud to be able to help an underserved community by helping with something so important as advance health care planning.
What are your plans once you pass the Bar?
I have been accepted to the LL.M. in Health Law program at Seton Hall Law in Newark. I plan to eventually establish my own health care research facility. In the meantime, I would like to work for a government agency such as the Department of Health and Human Services or for Medicaid and Medicare.
Awards and Activities
- Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, Member
- Black Law Student Association, Member
- Dean's Award for Leadership and Service to the Community 2012
- ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law, Associate Executive Editor
- Jessup International Moot Court, Brief Writer
- LAMBDA United, Member
- Moot Court Society-Feinrider First-Year Competition 2010, Champion
- Moot Court Society, Thomas Tang Competitor
- Phi Alpha Delta, Social Chair
- Public Interest Law Society, President
- The Florida Bar Foundation Public Service Fellowship 2011 - 2012 Recipient