The Columbus School of Law will hold the 133rd commencement ceremony on Friday, May 20, 2022. The Honorable Barbara Lagoa will be this year’s commencement speaker.
Judge Lagoa serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Upon her appointment, she became the first Hispanic and the first Cuban-American woman to serve on that court. She shared that same distinction as a justice on the Florida Supreme Court and, before that, as a judge, including as the chief judge, on Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal during her thirteen years of judicial service to the state of Florida.
Prior to joining the bench, Judge Lagoa practiced in both the civil and criminal arenas. Her civil practice focused on general and complex commercial litigation, particularly in the areas of employment discrimination, business torts, securities litigation, construction litigation, and insurance coverage disputes. In 2003, she joined the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida as an Assistant United States Attorney, where she worked in the Civil, Major Crimes, and Appellate Sections. As an Assistant United States Attorney, she tried numerous criminal jury trials and handled a significant number of appeals.
In addition to her legal accomplishments, Judge Lagoa is a dedicated member of her community. Her civic and community activities have included service on the Board of Directors of the Film Society of Miami, the YWCA of Greater Miami and Dade County, Kristi House, and the Florida International University Alumni Association. She also served as a member of the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission.
Judge Lagoa has received numerous honors and awards, including the Judicial Leadership Award from the National Hispanic Bar Foundation, the Florida International University Medallion of Honor Outstanding Alumna Award, and the Women Making History Award, Miami-Dade Chapter, Florida Association of Women Lawyers.
Judge Lagoa received her Juris Doctor from Columbia University, where she served as Associate Editor of the Columbia Law Review. She graduated cum laude from Florida International University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society.
Judge Lagoa resides in Miami with her husband and three daughters.