Cultivating his legal prowess was a skill Michael Reese ’88 learned at New College of Florida, and the experience has served him for decades as a successful lawyer. So, in early September, Reese decided to pay it forward, donating $50,000 to his alma mater’s Law Society.
Natalie Spivey competes on the Moot Court Team

“New College taught me a number of skills—analytical thinking, preparedness, ability to communicate—that have prepared me well for my career, both as an attorney and as a business owner,” said Reese, who is a class-action consumer protection attorney and the owner of Reese LLP in New York City.

Last February, Reese served as a judge for one of the practice rounds of the New College Moot Court Team. He was so impressed with the work of pre-law students Natalie Spivey, Libby Harrity and Francis Garcia Fernandez that he wanted to contribute to the New College Law Society. Reese’s donation will help fund students as they continue to participate in moot court matches and other pre-law events at New College and throughout the country.

“As you can imagine, the students were beyond thrilled with Mr. Reese’s donation. I know how hard these students work, how talented they are, and what this gift means to them and to all of the other students on our legal advocacy teams,” said New College of Florida General Counsel David Fugett, who coaches the New College Moot Court Team. “It is historic, it will be put to very good use, and I can’t thank Mr. Reese enough.”

New College, Reese believes, is an ideal place for pre-law students to learn. Reese graduated in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in European History under the advisement of Professor Laszlo Deme, Ph.D., and wrote a thesis entitled Gladstone’s Irish Policy. Reese founded his own law firm 15 years ago and now has offices throughout the United States.

“A successful law career requires creative thinking, preparation and the ability to think on one’s feet, and a New College education provides all three of these skills,” Reese said. “The small class size of New College requires that you always have to be prepared and able to discuss the topics at a high level with professors who have mastered their subjects. The New College thesis, and the requirement to defend that thesis before professors, translates directly to the ability to appear in a court of law and advocate for your position.”

Watching the pre-law program at New College evolve over the past three decades since he graduated has been exciting for Reese.

Moot court events are now regular occurrences at New College, providing students with the opportunity to participate in simulated court proceedings. Exercises involve students analyzing and arguing both sides of a hypothetical legal issue, while using procedures modeled after those employed in state and federal appellate courts. Judges question students, testing their knowledge of case law and the cohesion of their oral arguments.

“The moot court program at New College is fantastic. David Fugett has done an absolutely terrific job putting together the program, and it is a real asset to New College. I wish the program existed when I attended,” Reese said. “The students at the moot court were excellent and all made compelling, highly sophisticated arguments. It was a real pleasure to serve as a moot court judge.”

Spivey, who is the president of the New College Law Society and the captain of the New College Moot Court Team, said that having Reese as one of her judges was incredibly beneficial.

“Michael gave us some great insight for competition day. I doubt that there are other colleges out there that have their very own legal alumni serving as voluntary practice judges for moot court, and that’s part of what makes our team so unique (we are definitely representative of our school’s spirit),” said Spivey, who is a third-year political science major. “Michael’s donation was an incredible gift that came from his generosity and faith in the team, and it will carry us through multiple seasons.”

For more information on the Pre-Law Professional Program at New College of Florida, visit

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