post date 10/14/13
of Law alumna Denise Cespedes ('13) stands in the Fifth District Court
of Appeal Courtroom after addressing the Court as a top scorer on the
July 2013 Bar exam. Cespedes was the summa cum laude
valedictorian of the Spring 2013 Class.
Orlando, Fla. – Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law
alumna Denise Cespedes ('13), who grew up in Miami, Florida, addressed
the 5th District Court of Appeal's Oath of Admission Ceremony on
Monday, October 7, 2013. Cespedes joined other speakers with
the distinguished recognition of earning one of the highest scores on
the July 2013 Florida Bar Exam. Only five examinees were
selected for this honor from over 2,300 examinees that passed the exam.
The ceremony took place at 2 p.m. at the 5th District Court of Appeal
at 300 S. Beach Street, Daytona Beach, Florida.
"It is a proud moment for a law school dean to learn that one of your
graduates was a top scorer on a Bar exam," said LeRoy Pernell, FAMU
College of Law Dean. "Ms. Cespedes is one of the reasons why
the passage rate of our first-time Bar examinees has improved by nearly
22 percentage points since 2009. We are very proud of her
Although she felt confident after taking the Florida Bar exam, Cespedes
admits that she felt relieved upon learning she passed. The
relief quickly subsided to excitement about the possibilities for her
future as a litigator. She was shocked to learn she had
scored one of the highest scores on the Bar exam.
"I almost asked them to double check," Cespedes said of receiving one
of the highest scores. "Once the surprise passed, I felt
proud and honored by the opportunity to represent my school.
I never expected I would receive such an honor and complete the exam so
successfully," she said.
Cespedes graduated from the FAMU College of Law as the summa cum laude
valedictorian of the Spring 2013 class. She attended the
University of Central Florida where she graduated summa cum laude with
a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice. She returned to UCF prior
to attending FAMU to earn the M.S. degree in the same field.
"My decision to attend FAMU was based on several reasons," Cespedes
said. "I wanted to stay close to family and after living in Orlando for
so many years, I was hesitant about leaving. I visited the campus and
loved the diversity and opportunity, and felt like it was an
institution I could become a part of and contribute to. I'm
glad I made that decision."
Cespedes has held an interest in law since she was old enough to
understand the role of an attorney. She grew up watching the
television show Law and Order, and noted the poise and portrayal of
legal intelligence the actors displayed during courtroom
scenes. She participated in a high school law class that
served as the school's trial by jury for students facing disciplinary
action through school code violations. "I was able to try
cases, defend the accused, mediate disputes among students, and preside
over trials on the bench," Cespedes said. "I loved the
atmosphere of advocating for someone, and I knew the law was my
passion. I have not doubted it since."
While attending the College of Law, Cespedes was selected as a Holland
& Knight Scholar, earning the law school’s most prestigious
merit scholarship, and an internship at Holland & Knight,
LLP. She was also a student member of the Central Florida
Inns of Court and Hispanic American Law Student Association.