Student Spotlight: Cami DiGiacomo  Stetson J.D. Graduate ‘23

January 31, 2024

What year are you at Stetson?

I officially graduated with my J.D. as of May 2023, but I just began my LL.M. this previous August. I’m getting my L.L.M. in Advocacy.

How long does the LL.M. program last?

Fortunately my program will be condensed because I’m getting it through Stetson’s joint J.D. / LL.M. program. Ordinarily the L.L.M. would be 24 credits, but because I’m getting the joint degree it’ll be half the credits, only 12. Which is fantastic: it’s a huge time saver and a tuition saver as well. Stetson’s very flexible and allows you to get it in as quick as a year or as long as five years post-graduation. It helps accommodate people like myself who are now working full time. 

“Stetson was the easiest choice I’ve ever made… The professors, the resources, the community: it’s something I know I wouldn’t have gotten at another school.”

But you got your J.D. full time?

Yes. I started in Fall 2020 and I just finished in May 2023.

What made you choose Stetson?

Stetson was the easiest choice I’ve ever made, as far as a professional decision. The experience has just been unmatched. The professors, the resources, the community: it’s something I know I wouldn’t have gotten at another school. So I really hope people take advantage of the opportunity to come here if they have the chance. If I could go back to my junior year self in college starting to think about where to apply for law school, I’d tell myself to save the money on the applications to all these different schools and just go all eggs in one basket for Stetson. 

Where are you working now?

I work at a civil defense firm. They do defense litigation work. The firm does everything from medical malpractice defense to premise liability defense, auto liability defense  all things under the liability umbrella.

Where are you from?

New York, originally. Then I moved to the east coast of Florida two weeks before high school, went to U.C.F. [University of Central Florida] for college, then Stetson for law school.

What was your major in college?

I was a legal studies major and a political science minor so I certainly type casted myself from an early age!

“Gulfport took me by surprise! I just truly couldn’t imagine being in another town throughout my law school experience. It felt like a home away from home.”

What made you want to go to law school?

I was just like any other kid who thought very early on, maybe in, say, middle school, ”Oh, I like to argue, I’d love to go to law school!” Which is a silly idea. But in high school I really started narrowing my focus on colleges that offered pre-law programs to set you up on that track to law school. And I figured what better way of figuring out if this is something I’d like to do than by taking preliminary introductions to the same sort of classes I’d take once I got to the law school level.

U.C.F. was one of those schools that had a very reputable pre-law program, and not only that, they had a reputable trial team as well. Really that was what solidified my law school choice once I was at U.C.F. My second year there I started the trial team program, and a lot of my coaches or mentors were Stetson law grads who had nothing but amazing things to say about Stetson’s trial team. So from about sophomore year on I just narrowed my focus on law school, trial work (litigation particularly), and then on Stetson.

How do you like Gulfport?

Gulfport took me by surprise! I was completely shocked the first time I drove to campus. I thought we’d taken a couple wrong turns, we seemed like we were in the middle of this small beach town in the middle of nowhere, and suddenly this incredible old hotel pops up and it’s the most beautiful campus I’ve ever seen. Since then I just truly couldn’t imagine being in another town throughout my law school experience. It felt like a home away from home. It was quiet but also there were plenty of things to do in the St. Petersburg area. It holds a special place in my heart now.

What course did you enjoy the most in your first year at Stetson?

My first year I took Torts [LAW 1290] my second semester. Basically a course all about liability and holding people liable for injuries. I knew I was interested in that before I came to Stetson so I was incredibly immersed by that class. And it’s now ultimately what I’m doing for work! So I really loved that class.

“Stetson’s very flexible and allows you to get [your joint LL.M.] in as quick as a year or as long as five years [after graduating with your J.D.].”

What course did you find most challenging?

I took a class called Evidentiary Foundations and Objections [LAW 3450]: it was an advanced evidence class that had a component that required us students to be accountable for deadlines that mirror what practicing as a real attorney would be like. So we would have to dress up in suits, we’d have to file our motions by certain deadlines, and if they weren’t filed by a certain time the court wouldn’t hear the motion. We had to collaborate with opposing counsel, argue motions, argue evidence, and whatnot. It felt like the most realistic class in that you weren’t getting your experience out of a book it required you to do that preparation in advance and hold yourself accountable. As much as that was a favorite class of mine, I’d also say it was my most challenging as well. It was a big adjustment.

What made you choose the joint J.D./LL.M. at Stetson?

I decided during my second semester in 2L. I’d been on the trial team for a full year and I’d realized through my coaches and through my mentors how much I really value trial work. And when I learned that Stetson offered an advanced degree in advocacy I thought, what better way to hone in my skills as a trial lawyer than by continuing my education in advocacy and learning all the intricacies of the profession itself? And I felt as though I almost didn’t have enough time at Stetson just getting the J.D.: I would have kept going for as long as I could learning as much as I could from their advocacy courses. So the LL.M. was just the ideal situation where that’s exactly what I can do now, take classes to better my skills and ultimately try to be the best advocate that I can.

“My professor, Elizabeth Boals completely changed my idea of what it meant to learn something, and I saw the way she impacted not only me, but everybody in the class around me.”

What sort of professional opportunities do you expect will be opened for you by having your LL.M. in addition to your J.D.?

Well something I’d like to do down the road or at least have the opportunity to do eventually is teach at the law school level. I’ve heard many different professors explain the rigorous qualifications that it entails, but one of them is to be published: to write scholarly articles. And one of my degree requirements of the LL.M. is to write a paper with the ultimate goal of getting it published. So that’s one thing to help me along the road to eventually teach.

What got you thinking you’d like to teach?

My professor, Elizabeth Boals at Stetson Law. One hundred percent. She completely changed my idea of what it meant to learn something, and I saw the way she not only impacted me, but everybody in the class around me. I mean, there were over 80 people in our class, and I’d never seen so many people entranced by a subject. I found that extraordinary and I thought I’d love to have the opportunity to teach and have that same effect, to portray the law the way she did for me.

What extracurricular organizations on campus have meant the most to you?

Absolutely the trial team. Both while I was getting my J.D. and now currently.

Were there any particular externships or clinics that you participated in that you particularly valued?

I did a pro bono clinic at the public defender’s office for the Florida Sixth Judicial Circuit my 2L year. I had an opportunity there to work in the major case division with a couple of lawyers there who were incredible and basically had a hands-on experience learning what it looked like to be a public defender and work in that unit. It was a great experience.

What advice would you give to someone who’s starting law school?

Slow down. It goes by so incredibly fast. For us as law students, law school gets very difficult very quickly, and there’s an extreme amount of pressure associated with being there. But if you just slow down and take it in and realize why you’re there in that room, why you should stay there and what’s going to take you to the end to get out of there with the degree if you just slow down and remember that purpose it flies by, and you’ll end up at the finish line before you know it.

Topics: Spotlight