Students Learn How to Avoid Top 5 Pitfalls with Bar Examiners and Florida Bar

Jeff Martlew, Jazmin Shorter, Renalia Du Bose, Keshara Cowans, Donald Smith, Amy Bandow

Jeff Martlew, associate dean at WMU-Cooley’s Tampa Bay campus; Jazmin Shorter, president of the Black Law Student Association; Renalia Du Bose, WMU-Cooley professor; Keshara Cowans, bar counsel for the Florida Bar; Donald Smith, partner of Smith, Tozian, Daniel and Davis; and Amy Bandow, WMU-Cooley assistant director of the Center for Ethics, Service, and Professionalism.

On Feb. 17, The Black Law Students Association at WMU-Cooley’s Tampa Bay campus hosted the seminar, “A Guide to Avoiding Issues with the Board of Bar Examiners and the Florida Bar: The Top 5 Pitfalls of Both Law Students and Lawyers.”

The guest speakers were Keshara Cowans, bar counsel for the Florida Bar, and Donald A. Smith, partner of Smith, Tozian, Daniel and Davis. They are involved in a case as opposing counsels, but together presented advice on how to avoid issues with The Board of Bar Examiners and The Florida Bar, and on how to achieve success as an attorney.

“The top five pitfalls of Florida Bar applicants are lack of candor, academic misconduct, unlawful conduct, financial irresponsibility, and drug and alcohol dependency,” said Smith, who spoke on behalf of the Florida Bar Board of Governors.

Cowans discussed the Florida Supreme Court’s amendment to the Oath of Admission to the Florida Bar in 2011 due to lack of civility among lawyers.

“To opposing parties and their counsel, I pledge fairness, integrity, and civility, not only in court, but also in all written and oral communications,” stated Cowans.

Cowans serves on the board of directors for the Central Florida Association for Women Lawyers and the Young Lawyers Section of the Orange County Bar Association. In 2011, Cowans was recognized by the National Bar Association as one of the Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40. She earned both her undergraduate degree and her law degree from Florida State University.

Smith is a member of the Hillsborough County Bar Association and the Association of Professional Responsibility of Lawyers. He is admitted to the Middle District Court of Florida, the County Bar Association. He received his law degree from Stetson University.


About Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School: Western Michigan University and Thomas M. Cooley Law School affiliated in 2014, combining the status of a nationally-ranked, public, comprehensive research university with the commitment to practical legal education of an independent, non-profit, national law school. WMU-Cooley is accredited by both the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. The law school has provided nearly 20,000 graduates with the practical skills necessary for a seamless transition from academia to the real world, and enrolls classes in January, May, and September at its Lansing, Auburn Hills, and Grand Rapids, Michigan campuses, and its Tampa Bay, Florida campus. WMU and the law school continue to operate as independent institutions with their own governance structure and separate fiduciary responsibilities.



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