James L. Ferraro--As his legal practice expanded, his business, political and philanthropic endeavors also grew. In a nod to his Italian heritage, Jim became part owner in Randazzo's Little Italy family-style Italian restaurant in Coral Gables; and he is the owner (Kosar, the president) of the Cleveland franchise of the Arena Football League. An avowed Democrat, Jim also counts President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton, as well as presidential hopeful John Edwards, among his friends, and is an active member of the Democratic Party..
“I was always interested in politics, but as my legal practice took off, I became more involved,” he explained. “It was important to me personally and professionally, particularly as tort reform became a bigger issue.” Jim is also noted for his significant charitable contributions. He donates to more than 50 charities every year, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Children's Home Society, the Jackson Memorial Foundation, of which he sits on their Board of Directors, and the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. For his philanthropy, he was inducted in 1999 to the Order of Saint John Knights of Malta, a worldwide organization dedicated to helping the sick and the poor. In 2001, he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, given to U.S. citizens whose work and volunteer efforts help foster strong ties between various ethnic groups.
“The Ellis Island Medal of Honor is very important to me,” said Jim. “I am descended from Italian immigrants, and I am very proud of my heritage. Ellis Island is the ultimate symbol of freedom to many immigrants who have come to America and worked hard to build better lives for themselves.”
“Receiving the Ellis Island Medal also reminded me of why I do what I do,” he added. “So many of my clients are blue collar workers, working hard to build better lives”. My law firm helps fund and pursue their lawsuits on a contingency basis, so they can take on major corporations that they otherwise could not, to help them recover from their injuries. Without our help, most of them would not be able to afford a lawyer. Knowing that I can help make a difference in their lives gives me enormous pride and satisfaction.”
In September of 2007, his philanthropic work came full circle, back to the University of Miami School of Law, with his $600,000 gift to the law school to establish a new endowed scholarship.
“Scholarships, in particular endowed scholarships, are vital in our commitment to bringing the most talented students to the School of Law” said Donna E. Shalala, President of the University of Miami. “I am grateful to Jim Ferraro for establishing this scholarship at the University of Miami.”
The scholarship, which will be geared towards students who plan to pursue careers in civil litigation, will help the law school attract the best and the brightest students.
“Trial law is my focus, and I want to help form the next generation of trial lawyers,” Jim explained. “I attribute my professional success today to the education I received at the University of Miami. I would not be here without my law degree in particular. I loved the time I spent there. I learned so much, with professors who really knew how to engage the students.”
“The UM School of Law is a great institution where I received an outstanding education. I want to give something back. I want to help build it up, to take it to the next level of greatness.