A Conversation with Robert H. Abrams, Professor of Law FAMU College of Law
(The fourth in a series of profiles of FAMU Law Faculty, Leadership, and Program Directors)
Interviewer: What does the FAMU brand mean to you?
Professor Abrams: To me, the College of Law brand signifies opportunity. As a state school, tuition is among the lowest of any law school in the nation. As a HBCU, entering students of color and, indeed, all students, are assured of an atmosphere in which their differences will be accepted and even celebrated.
Interviewer: How does FAMU Law impact the city of Orlando currently and how do you see this changing?
Professor Abrams: At present, FAMU is just beginning to have its graduates populate the bar of Central Florida. Over time FAMU will become the single largest supplier of legal talent to the Orlando region.
Interviewer: Tell me one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments.
Professor Abrams: My proudest accomplishments are the role that my writings are playing in the advancement of the law-especially in the Water Law field, where I am a founding co-author of the leading book used for teaching the course in law schools. Similarly, I am a founding co-author of one of the leading Environmental Law texts. In the Water Law field, I have been Chair of the ABA Water Resources Committee. A more general recognition of my work was being elected to the American Law Institute, which is responsible for the Restatements of Law, of which I am now a life member.
Interviewer: What is the best tip you can give today’s law school graduate?
Professor Abrams: I would tell law school graduates to find work in a field that you enjoy. That makes it less a job and more a profession and career that will be fulfilling. It is likely that the greatest satisfactions will be derived by the ways in which you are able to use your skills to help others.
Interviewer: What advice would you give prospective or current students, in addition to alums?
Professor Abrams: I would advise law students to take an active role in your own education. The more you engage and invest in what you are doing and learning, the more thorough and valuable will be your knowledge when you are done with your studies.
Interviewer: You’ve served on the faculties at several law schools. What sets FAMU College of Law apart from the others and what was the motivating factor for coming here?
Professor Abrams: The most distinctive aspect of teaching at FAMU is the students and the potentially transformative role that going to law school provides for them and their communities.
Interviewer: What do you think is your most popular class with the students, and why?
Professor Abrams: Water Law. The students are at first surprised at the content—setting the rules for allocation and use of water, an increasingly scarce resource. As the course unfolds, the students get to appreciate the history of the nation in new ways and anticipate how important a role this aspect of law will play in the years to come.
Interviewer: Share with me at least one important contribution FAMU Law is making on the forefront of creating societal change.
Professor Abrams: Barely more than a decade since graduating its first class after being reconstituted, FAMU is already the foremost source of African American lawyers in the State of Florida. Even more broadly, FAMU College of Law is sending more lawyers into underprivileged communities in the state than other schools, thereby improving meaningful access to the justice system for those communities.
Interviewer: What are your favorite pastimes?
Professor Abrams: Playing racquetball and rooting for the University of Michigan sports teams. I also do some baking, although I think that is a pastime more because I want the end product than because of enjoying the process of creating it.