Miami – Highly esteemed Attorney H.T. Smith is many things to many people. His was the ﬁrst Black law ﬁrm to have an ofﬁce atop the highest building in downtown Miami. He cost Miami over $100 million in lost revenue in a Black economic boycott after South African President and hero, Nelson Mandela came to Miami and was snubbed. And his leadership is responsible for Miami Beach’s ﬁrst Blackowned convention resort hotel. And that’s not to mention the many “ﬁrsts" he’s amassed as an attorney.
But now he’s beaming at the thought of a scholarship being given to a deserving young law student bearing his name. Instead of being proud the scholarship bears his name, he’s even more so elated a minority law student will get an amazing opportunity and a ﬁnancial boost as well. The very ﬁrst, inaugural H.T. Smith Legal Studies Scholarship recipient was announced this week. The Miami law ﬁrm of Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine created the scholarship and announced astute student Briana Harris, a South Florida native, as its ﬁrst recipient.
Alan Kluger, founding partner of Kluger Kaplan, said the annual scholarship is necessary. “Like many companies we realized that some minority students have not historically had the same opportunities as non-minorities.
“Our goal for the scholarship is to attract qualiﬁed candidates and create more diversity in the South Florida legal community, while encouraging more law ﬁrms and businesses to create similar initiatives.”
Smith, in a telephone interview, said he is both humbled and grateful to be a part of such an undertaking. Meanwhile Kluger said it was only ﬁtting that it bears Smith’s name. “H.T. Smith is a legend in Miami’s legal community and has helped pave the way for others. When we came up with the idea to create this scholarship, I called the person who I most respect when it comes to creating racial diversity and equity in our profession, H.T. Smith. I asked him to help formulate the program,” said Kluger. “When he and I discussed who to name it after, he offered excellent suggestions, but my partners at the ﬁrm said, ‘There’s nobody more deserving than H.T. Smith in our community.’”
Smith, who is founding director of the Trial Advocacy Program at FIU College of Law, said he is honored and is most happy for students like ﬁrst recipient Briana Harris. “She is an exceptional student who is well deserving,” said Smith. Kluger said Harris’ leadership and overall dedication to her studies and community made her a standout candidate. The scholarship awards one student annually with $10,000 in ﬁnancial assistance to attend an eligible law school in Florida. They are also considered for a clerkship at Kluger Kaplan as well as an attorney position upon graduation of Law school and completion of the Florida Bar. Harris is a second-year student at FIU College of Law and received her Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University.
Smith said he applauds Kluger Kaplan for taking the lead on such a noteworthy initiative. “This scholarship is a step in the right direction to promote meaningful diversity in the legal profession, and Kluger Kaplan is providing a blueprint for other ﬁrms to create similar programs.”