Center for Law & Policy

The Center for Law and Policy is housed in the Department of Legal Studies in the College of Community Innovation and Education at the University of Central Florida. The center was established in August 2012.


The Center for Law and Policy will become renown for the development, sharing and promotion of innovative ideas that advance the legal field and benefit the broader community. The center will maintain flexibility in content but have two broad themes: partnerships and multiple audiences.

The center will provide service to the community through partnerships. This service will motivate social change while simultaneously furthering UCF’s goals of being America’s leading partnership university and achieving prominence in key programs of research and community outreach. Center and department faculty members will collaborate with legal practitioners on joint research orchestrated by the center.

Media and the public will access timely and relevant legal and policy information through panel discussions, seminars and a dedicated website


Cynthia Schmidt, J.D., (B.A., legal studies, ’87) is the founding director of the center. She is an attorney and educator with 26 years’ experience practicing and teaching law and motivating social change.
Distinguished Speaker Series

The Center for Law and Policy brings distinguished speakers to the campus to discuss contemporary issues in law in the United States and around the world. See the Events links (above) to learn more.

Previous distinguished speakers include:

Blair Jackson, Esq., Schwam-Wilcox & Assoc.

Kunal Bhatheja, Esq., Illinois Court of Claims

A. Wellington Barlow, Esq., A. Wellington Barlow, and Assoc.

Professor Peter Zablotksy, Touro Law Center

Professor Larry Birdsong, Barry University School of Law

Jeff Ashton, State Attorney, Ninth Circuit

Federal District Judge Svetlana Zinovieva, Russia

Lawrence Walters, Esq., Walters Law Group

Scholarly Analysis and Publications
The Center for Law and Policy is dedicated to the advancement of interdisciplinary research on law, legal institutions and social policy. The Faculty of our Legal Studies Department are renowned for their work within a broad area of specializations including Aviation Law, Military Law, Family Law, and Social Policy.

Project Highlights

Distinguished Speaker Series
March 26th, 2018

Kunal Bhatheja, J.D. of Illinois Court of Claims, and Blair Jackson, J.D. of Schwam-Wilcox & Assoc., co-authors of “Easy as P.I.E.; Avoiding and preventing vicarious liability for sexual harassment by supervisors.” Drake Law Review, Vol. 62, No. 3, 2014, spoke of how sexual harassment laws can prevent or stop harassment and empower those who have been harassed.

Distinguished Speaker Series
March 5th, 2018

A. Wellington Barlow Esq., Equity in Sentencing Analysis System and the Disparity in Criminal Sentencing Across Florida with Regards to Race. Mr. Barlow, who spoke about inequities in sentencing, pulls from over three (3) decades of trial court experience. His legal background provides a wealth of wisdom, knowledge and practical experience that’s freely shared in books and publications. His life’s work has chiefly involved aggressively protecting the constitutional rights of the criminally accused in criminal courts of law, the rights of victims of accidents and/or crimes to be made whole in civil courts of law. He has created a Sentencing Analysis System that is being contemplated in many circuits in Florida, and which is the fodder for a great dialogue by judges, legislators and lawyers.

Orlando Together

Beginning February 2018 Dr. Schmidt will be facilitating the Civics cohort of Orlando Together. Orlando Together seeks to fortify cities by undermining racial divisions as they manifest in religious, education, business, and civic life. The Civics cohorts will tackle policing and authority (February,) mass incarceration (March,) and reentry (April) with the expectation that these substantive areas will allow for deep conversations about race, implicit bias and privilege. There will be site visits and panel discussions followed by facilitated discussions. Then-Attorney General Eric Holder in 2009 said that the United States is a “nation of cowards” when dealing with the topic of race. Dr. Schmidt and the attendees hope to get brave. Center Director Cynthia Schmidt is a leader of a Think Tank and a participant in a second.
  • Dr. Schmidt leads a Think Tank based out of the Callahan Center, in Parramore. The diverse group of participants have met every few weeks since November, 2014 discussing race, implicit bias, social justice and police practices. They are currently developing a project called “Flipping the Panel.”
  • At the request of City Commissioner Regina Hill, Dr. Schmidt serves on the Urban Crime Task Force. Dr. Schmidt co-chairs the Poverty Subcommittee. The Task Force announced their recommendations to the community during February and March of 2015. The Task Force will work for the balance of the Commissioner’s term, ie. three more years.

International Visitor Leadership Program
Black Lives Matter Presentation

On July 26th, 2017 Dr. Schmidt made a presentation to a delegation of officials, from throughout China, with the International Visitor Leadership Program. The program is conducted through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department. Dr. Schmidt’s presentation was an overview of the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement, the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the trial of George Zimmerman, and many other aspects of cultural injustice which has and is plaguing the U.S.. Dr. Schmidt’s presentation can be viewed at the following link. Center for Law and Policy, Black Lives Matter

Blue Ribbon Panel Facilitation
Creating a Dialog Between a City’s Police Department and the Community

After the death of Trayvon Martin, center Director Cynthia Schmidt facilitated meetings of a Blue Ribbon Panel of community stakeholders for the city of Sanford, Fla., and authored a report with their recommendations on how the Sanford Police Department could improve relations with community members. By January 2014, 80 percent of the recommendations were implemented. For a copy of the full Blue Ribbon Panel report, click here.