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Caption: College of Law alumnus LaDray Gilbert, '09 (left) and his father Johnnie L. Gilbert (center) present a ceremonial pledge of support to FAMU College of Law Dean LeRoy Pernell (right).
Orlando, Fla. – Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law Alumnus LaDray Gilbert, who grew up in the rural, farm town of Malone, Florida, recently pledged $5,000 to the College of Law to assist graduates in preparing for the Bar exam.
"I'm thankful to FAMU, the faculty, and staff for giving me a chance to receive a legal education," expressed the 2009 graduate who returned home to Jackson County, Florida after passing the Florida Bar exam the same year. After encountering limited career opportunities in Jackson County, he established The Gilbert Law Firm in 2009, making him the first African-American attorney to establish a practice in the area.
The Gilbert Bar Scholarship will be awarded to deserving FAMU College of Law students toward expenses incurred while preparing for the Bar Exam. Attorney Gilbert has already contributed $1,000 toward the pledged total.
The College of Law' first-time pass rate of the February 2013 Florida Bar Exam exceeded the state average for the first time in the school's history. At 82.6 percent, the College of Law bested five of the 11 schools reported, including Florida Coastal, Nova Southeastern and the University of Florida. Attorney Gilbert wants to see the rate continue to rise.
"I've been where the current students are now, and I want to help them in any way I can as they prepare for the Bar," said Gilbert, whose father, Johnnie L. Gilbert, assisted his son with the ceremonial presentation of the gift to the College of Law during a recent visit to Orlando.
Attorney Gilbert has also helped students in Jackson County receive more than $10,000 worth of scholarship funding. He serves as Vice-Baselius of the Upsilon Alpha Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, and was founding president of the North West Florida Chapter of the FAMU Alumni Association. He was the youngest African American to serve on the Board of Directors for Jackson County's Chamber of Commerce and Habitat for Humanity Boards. He currently serves as general counsel for the Jackson County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
"My dad and late mother [Carnell Gilbert] expended all their resources to send me to school, and I want to give back to help others reach their goals," he said.