WMU-Cooley Tampa Bay law students Rob Johnson and Sabrina Mentor had nothing but high praise for the Third Annual Barristers’ Ball. The prestigious event, hosted by the Tampa Bay Student Bar Association, an organization entirely run by students, was very well attended with nearly 200 students, faculty, staff and respected members of the Tampa Bay community, present on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 (Photo gallery below).
Rob Johnson and his wife, Ainsley Johnson
“To help grasp the significance of a Barristers’ Ball, one must first understand that a barrister is an attorney from a common law country, who generally represents a litigant in court and presents that case before a judge and jury,” explained Rob Johnson. “More specifically, a Barristers’ Ball is an annual event held at most law schools in common law countries, such as: the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. It is a formal or semi-formal event where all students are encouraged to attend, network and have fun with colleagues and professionals in a relaxed social environment.”
The Barristers’ Ball was held in downtown Tampa from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the University Club of Tampa located on the top floor of the One Tampa City Center building. The building, commonly referred to as the U-Club, has a vast history of tradition, prominent members, and is also known as one of the oldest, private, member’s only clubs in the Tampa Bay area. “Each guest that arrived was immediately greeted with the red carpet treatment, literally,” according to Rob.
Judge Edward LaRose and his wife mingling with students during the cocktail hour
Sabrina Mentor and WMU-Cooley Professor Karen Fultz
They were then escorted to one of many rooms where cocktails and hors d’oeuvres were being served. “The long hours and meticulous details were well worth it to see the looks of joy and astonishment on everyone’s faces,” agreed Sabrina Mentor.
“Let me just say WOW to the view – it was absolutely breathtaking,” continued Rob. “The students looked amazing and everyone was dressed to impress for the elegant evening ahead. A rumor floating around proved to be true, as there was indeed a special drink called ‘The Martlew;’ appropriately named after our fearless leader, Dean Jeffrey Martlew.”
Dinner was served in the main dining room where the guest speaker, Judge Edward LaRose, who sits on Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals, “delivered a powerful and insightful message to everyone in attendance,” stated Rob.
He imparted wisdom to all who attended. “Establish goals for your career and your personal life,” suggested Judge LaRose to the crowded room. “Have a five year plan. Have a 10 year plan. Engage in activities that are going to advance that plan and do not hesitate to share your plan with a prospective employer … But be ready to seize unexpected opportunities through faith, fate, or just plain dumb luck.”
Judge Edward LaRose
“It was an honor to hear him speak about life, law school, the journey after graduation, and most importantly, not to forget our families and friends, who should be most treasured,” said Sabrina.
Shortly thereafter, it was time to dance the night away with DJ Cardinal. “He was outstanding,” said Rob. “For those looking for a place to rest those dancing shoes, a short stroll down the hall led to the dessert room, which offered a warm and relaxing ambiance. This is where the signature ‘Barrister Pastry’ could be found, along with coffee and other fine desserts.”
“What was going on next door, you may ask? The Photo Booth room, of course,” smiled Sabrina. “A professional photographer, the use of props, and a keepsake filmstrip brought the experience to a whole new level of fun, with lasting memories.”
WMU-Cooley students Eric Anderson and Steffanie Brown
“The event was surely not to be forgotten,” stated Rob emphatically. “Every student was proud to be there, and looking forward to attending next year! The Student Bar Association was thankful for such a spectacular event and the fun and camaraderie. We especially want to thank the committee, as well as WMU-Cooley faculty and staff for all of the hard work and support!”
Student Bar Association member Mark Patterson echoed Rob and Sabrina’s good wishes. “I very much enjoyed this year’s event and I look forward to attend next year’s Barristers’ Ball event as a proud WMU-Cooley graduate and as a sponsor!”