Miami Law School Gets $3.45M Donation Honoring Famed Atty

Posted on September 19, 2022
Robert C. Josefsberg
Robert C. Josefsberg

Law360 Pulse, Christine De Rosa, September 19, 2022

Representing celebrities like The Doors’ Jim Morrison may have thrust longtime Podhurst Orseck PA attorney Robert Josefsberg into the limelight, but it was advocacy skills that led a University of Miami School of Law alumni to donate $3.45 million in his honor.

David C. Humphreys, who graduated in 1983, and his wife Debra donated the funds to establish The Robert C. Josefsberg Endowed Chair in Criminal Defense Advocacy.

Miami Law Dean David Yellen told Law360 Pulse on Monday that the donation will support a faculty member who will conduct research and teach in the field of criminal law. The overall goal of the new position will be to enhance the quality of criminal defense advocacy, Yellen said.

The school will begin looking for someone to fill the seat in the next few months, Yellen said.

“I have had this in mind for years and wanted to support a Criminal Defense Advocacy chair at Miami and wanted to honor Bob for all his selfless efforts on behalf of others over many years,” Humphreys told Law360 Pulse.

Humphreys and Josefsberg, who is 84-years-old and still practicing law, first crossed paths when Humphreys was in his third year of law school and interning in the Dade County Public Defender’s Office.

Humphreys described the excitement when people learned Josefsberg would be arguing a felony trial, causing several of them to run over to the courtroom to watch him argue.

“Bob was a very effective advocate for an elderly client who had been accused of assault on a neighbor,” Humphreys said in a press release. “He conducted the cross-examination in a very professional manner without being confrontational and achieved an acquittal. I could tell he was an outstanding lawyer with tremendous integrity.”

Josefsberg later took on a case for Humphreys, who is now the chairman and CEO of TAMKO Building Products LLC, a Midwest manufacturing company that his grandfather developed.

The two lost touch for decades until this year when Humphreys approached the school about endowing a chair in Josefsberg’s honor.

Humphreys said that the two are now in contact again.

Josefsberg told Law360 Pulse in an email that he was shocked to learn about the donation.

“I was speechless. A former client remembered me so many years later? Impossible,” Josefsberg wrote. “When the initial shock subsided a few days later, I was incredibly moved by his generosity. It underscored the fact that your relationships and interactions can be remembered and appreciated for a long time.”

Josefsberg’s six-decade career includes 42 years as a partner at Podhurst Orseck where he handles white collar criminal defense work and commercial cases, pro bono work and time as a federal prosecutor.

Josefsberg represented multiple celebrities throughout his career, including Morrison, after he was charged with indecent exposure following a 1969 Coconut Grove concert. Morrison was convicted in 1970 and sentenced to six months in prison and fined $500, but died in 1971 before serving any jail time.

Josefsberg’s ties to the school date back to 1962, when he went to Miami after graduating from Yale Law School. He practiced with Walter Beckham Jr., who mentored Josefsberg and later served as professor and assistant dean at the school.

Josefsberg has also served as the co-chair of the Miami Law Mock Trial teams and as a guest lecturer at the school. His firm also hosts annual Miami Law seminars on class actions.

“I think we should all feel a sense of duty to help other people,” Humphreys said. “Bob Josefsberg is a great example for students seeking to put that philosophy into action and defend people who really need a champion.”

–Editing by Alyssa Miller.