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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Largo immigrant moves step closer to getting his law license

From The News Service of Florida:

A Florida State law school grad who became an undocumented immigrant as a child when his parents overstayed their visas in the U.S. is a key step closer to becoming a lawyer. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners on Tuesday recommended the state Supreme Court admit Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio of Largo to the Florida Bar. The action comes less than two months after Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill (HB 755) that allows "dreamers," undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, to be eligible for The Bar.

"I've been waiting for over three years and the dream had seemed so far away," Godinez-Samperio told The News Service of Florida. "Now that it's happening, now that it's becoming reality, it's unspeakable."

The Board of Bar Examiners recommendation followed a lengthy legal fight, which spurred state lawmakers to pass the bill aimed at allowing Godinez-Samperio to practice law. Godinez-Samperio received notice in 2011 he had passed the Bar exam. Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte, a former president of the American Bar Association and former dean of FSU's law school who represented Godinez-Samperio during the legal fight, said he has been waiting several weeks for the Board of Bar Examiners to forward the recommendation.

"I'm going to be shocked if we don’t get immediate approval by the court," D'Alemberte said. "I hope that I'm not being too optimistic, but I think it's very likely to come through."

The court also would set a date for Godinez-Samperio, who currently works as a paralegal providing legal services on tax and affordable-housing issues, to be sworn in. Godinez-Samperio moved to the United States from Mexico at age 9 and remained with his parents after their visas expired, which meant the family was here illegally. He became an Eagle Scout, was valedictorian of his high school class at Armwood in Tampa, graduated from New College in Sarasota and attended law school at FSU before passing the bar exam.

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 5:36pm]


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