The General Counsel’s Office renders legal advice to university administrators and represents the university in all matters including administrative and judicial proceedings. The office also reviews and approves all contracts and affiliation agreements entered into by the university. It processes subpoenas and public record requests. It handles litigation, including administrative hearings. It is not authorized to render personal legal advice to faculty/staff/administrators. It is not authorized to render legal advice of any kind to students.
W. Scott Cole has served as Vice President and General Counsel for the University of Central Florida since 2002. Prior to joining the university, he served as Associate General Counsel for the University of Florida for 10 years. In addition, Mr. Cole practiced commercial litigation in Jacksonville, Florida with the law firms of Brant, Moore, Macdonald and Wells and Kirschner, Main.
Mr. Cole received his Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida where he served as President of Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity and Vice-Chair of the Moot Court team.
Mr. Cole is a multi-year recipient of the Florida Legal Elite award, awarded to the top 2% of attorneys in Florida as determined by members of the Florida Bar. He is an active member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys having served on its Board of Directors and as Chair of its Subcommittee on Audit. He is a frequent speaker on higher education issues and was co-author on the AGB Advisory Statement on Sexual Assault. Mr. Cole also serves on the Board of Directors for the Small Business Development Center.
Mr. Cole is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Middle District Court of Florida and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Youndy C. Cook has served in the Office of the General Counsel, first as Associate General Counsel and now as Deputy General Counsel, since April 2002. Prior to joining the University, she practiced labor and employment litigation at Ford & Harrison, LLP, in Tampa, Florida. Ms. Cook works with departments and units across the University on a wide variety of issues, including employment issues, litigation, student affairs, policies and procedures, regulations, and contracts.
Ms. Cook received her B.A., summa cum laude, from Vanderbilt University and her J.D., summa cum laude, from the University of Miami School of Law. Ms. Cook is active in the National Association of College and University Attorneys and the Florida Bar. In addition to providing training around campus, she has spoken various times at education law conferences. She is admitted to practice in Florida.
Principal areas of responsibility: Labor and Employment; Litigation; Dispute Resolution; University Regulations; Policies and Procedures; Student Affairs; Public Records.
Sherry Andrews has served as Associate General Counsel for the University of Central Florida from 1995-2001 and from 2004-present. From 2001-2004 she served as a senior law clerk and administrator for U.S. District Court Judge Patricia C. Fawsett, chief judge for the Middle District of Florida. Ms. Andrews works with the Provost’s office, deans, and college administrators on a variety of issues involving faculty, including personnel issues, compliance with the faculty contract, grievances, discipline, etc.
Ms. Andrews received her B.A., summa cum laude, from Florida Southern College; her M.A. from the University of Central Florida; and her J.D. with honors from the University of Florida, where she served as an associate articles editor for the Florida Law Review. She is admitted to practice in Florida state courts and in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Principal areas of responsibility: Collective bargaining; Academic Affairs; Contracts; Labor and Employment.
Maria D. Beckman joined the Office of the General Counsel as an EEO Advocacy Adviser in April 2017. She has been working in the civil rights area for more than twenty years. Prior to joining the University, she practiced employment law with a New York City law firm and then advised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. on legal issues involving civil rights and employment. She has served as UCF’s Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action programs and Title IX Coordinator. Ms. Beckman is also an adjunct professor at UCF and the author of several publications regarding affirmative action.
Ms. Beckman received her B.A. in Philosophy, summa cum laude, from The Ohio State University and her J.D., with honors, from the same institution. She is admitted to practice in Florida and New York.
Principle areas of responsibility: Employment and Civil Rights Law.
Jennifer Cerasa is an Associate General Counsel based in the UCF Foundation. Prior to joining the University of Central Florida in January of 2014, Jennifer practiced local government, real estate and land use law. Jennifer represented both Florida municipalities, such as Altamonte Springs and Cocoa Beach, as well as private developers in the acquisition, disposition and development of large scale projects while at the law firm of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed. Jennifer works with the Foundation on a variety of issues, including real estate transactions, contract review, gift agreements, policy, board governance and Alumni. In addition, Jennifer advises the University on real estate issues.
Ms. Cerasa received her Juris Doctorate from Florida State University College of Law in 2006 and was designated as a member of the Order of the Coif. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of South Carolina in 2003, where she graduated magna cum laude.
She is an active community volunteer that has served as a volunteer of a variety of organizations throughout the years, including the Junior League of Greater Orlando where she chaired the annual gala, the parent council for the Annunciation Catholic Preschool, and a volunteer at the Annunciation Catholic Academy.
Jordan Clark joined the University of Central Florida in 2003, and he serves as Associate General Counsel for the University. Prior to joining the university, he practiced in the areas of Mergers and Acquisitions/Corporate Securities in Miami, Florida with the law firms of Steel Hector and Davis LLP and Greenberg Traurig P. A.
Mr. Clark received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting with honors from West Virginia University and his Juris Doctor degree with honors from the University of Florida, where he was an associate editor for the Journal of Law and Public Policy. Mr. Clark is admitted to practice in Florida. Mr. Clark has been recognized by Florida Trend Magazine as Legal Elite for 2016 and 2017.
He is active in university and community affairs and sits as director on UCF Athletics Association, Inc., and a past chairman of Lake Eola Charter School board of directors and a founding member of the Galileo School for Gifted Learning board of directors.
Principal areas of responsibility: Athletics, Construction; Purchasing; Direct Support Organizations; and General contracts.
Natasha N. Hellerich has served as Associate General Counsel for the University of Central Florida since 2002. Prior to joining UCF, she worked at the law firm of Akerman, Senterfitt & Eidson, P.A. and Siemens Westinghouse Power Corporation, both in Orlando, Florida.
Ms. Hellerich received her Juris Doctorate (with honors) from the University of Florida, where she was Senior Managing Editor of the Florida Journal of International Law and a member of Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honors Fraternity. She was also the recipient of several American Jurisprudence Book Awards. Ms. Hellerich is admitted to practice in Florida.
Prior to receiving her Juris Doctorate from the University of Florida, Ms. Hellerich also received a German law degree from the University of Bremen, Germany, where the focus of her studies was on European and International Law.
She was on the Board of Directors for the UCF Creative School for Children from 2012-2016.
Principal areas of responsibility: Contracts, Intellectual Property matters including copyrights and trademarks.
Shainoor Ladha-Karmali has served as Associate General Counsel and HIPAA Privacy Officer for the University of Central Florida College of Medicine since October 2011. Prior to joining the university, she served as in-house counsel for a Winter Park based Adventist Health System, a multi-regional integrated health care system.
Ms. Ladha-Karmali received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology, with honors, from University of Washington, her Juris Doctorate, with honors, from Seattle University, and her MBA, with distinction, from University of Central Florida.
Ms. Ladha-Karmali currently serves as a second term chair for a faith-based mediation board, and has been a mediator since 2002.
Principal areas of responsibility: Health law; Software licensing; Real property transactions; HIPAA issues; general contracts.
Jeanette Schreiber leads the College of Medicine’s Department of Legal Affairs and Special Projects, which provides legal and compliance services and coordinates government relations; supports planning and development of College of Medicine’s business and clinical initiatives, partnerships and affiliations; and oversees the College’s Regional Extension Center Health IT Initiatives.
Before joining UCF in 2008, Ms. Schreiber practiced for over 25 years in health care law and policy as a partner in Connecticut-based, Wiggin and Dana, LLP, providing counsel to health care providers, systems, payors and businesses. Ms. Schreiber served as the primary outside health care attorney for the Yale-New Haven Health System, the primary teaching facilities for the Yale University School of Medicine, including planning, development and implementation of clinical programs, services, facilities and affiliations, government relations, and Health IT. After returning home to Orlando in 2007, Ms. Schreiber was a shareholder in Shuffield, Lowman & Wilson, P.A.. She has received the highest peer review rating by Martindale Hubbell, was selected by Best Lawyers in America in health law for over 12 years; and most recently was selected among Top Women Lawyers by Orlando Home and Leisure Magazine.
Ms. Schreiber is a graduate of Harvard Law School (J.D., 1982, cum laude), Florida State University (M.S.W., 1978, highest honors), and Emory University (B.A. 1976, high honors). She is board-certified in health law by the Florida Bar.
Ms. Schreiber serves as a national trustee on the United Church of Christ Pension Board, which oversees self-funded health and retirement benefits for active and retired ministers and staff internationally. She is a member of Friends of the Wekiva River.
Sandra M. Sovinski is Associate General Counsel, based in the Office of Research & Commercialization at the University of Central Florida since 2010. Prior to joining UCF, she practiced in the areas of patents, trademarks, copyrights and related intellectual property matters for her firm, Innovative IP, LLC, and for the Atlanta IP boutique Myers & Kaplan Intellectual Property Law, LLC.
Ms. Sovinski is a Registered Patent Attorney, Board Certified in Intellectual Property Law. She received her Juris Doctorate from Indiana University School of Law, Indianapolis, IN, where she was on the Deans List, was the winner of an International Law Review Writing Competition, and also received the CALI award for excellence. Ms. Sovinski is a native Floridian who proudly calls University of Central Florida her alma mater for her Bachelor of Science degree in Forensic Science, with a chemistry minor. Prior to attending law school, Ms. Sovinski was a forensic scientist, frequently testifying as an expert witness in the DNA and serological arts, and is co-author of numerous scientific publications in the field.
Ms. Sovinski continues to volunteer as a regular speaker on intellectual property topics for various Central Florida small business and community organizations, is a member of the Florida and Georgia Bars, and is admitted to practice in the Middle District Court of Florida, the Northern District Court of Georgia, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Principal areas of responsibility: Intellectual Property including patents, trademarks, and copyrights; Research contracts, grants and licensing.
Robert W. Wilson is an Associate General Counsel based in the Office of Research and Commercialization. Robert’s primary areas of responsibility include corporate transactions, early-stage/start-up company matters, technology transfer and commercialization, tax law, complex commercial contracts, and general compliance and regulatory matters. Prior to joining UCF in 2014, Robert practiced in the corporate and tax areas at GrayRobinson in Orlando and in the corporate and securities areas for Jones Day in Atlanta and Haynes and Boone in Dallas.
Mr. Wilson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Florida in 2001, a Master of Accounting degree from the University of Florida in 2002, a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2005 and an LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Florida in 2010. Mr. Wilson is admitted to the State Bars of Florida, Georgia and Texas. In addition, he is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in Florida.
Rebecca Pluguez has worked at the General Counsel’s Office since 2002. Rebecca handles a variety of responsibilities within the General Counsel’s Office; some of these include the General Counsel’s administrative and operational functions, budget, human resources, outside counsel, and the General Counsel’s Office assessment reports. In addition Rebecca is responsible for the supervision of the administrative staff, OPS personnel, students and interns.
Rebecca’s alma mater is the University of Central Florida where she received her B.A. in Legal Studies and her Masters of Nonprofit Management. Rebecca actively volunteers in diverse nonprofits including the United Way and several religious organizations. She also helps several nonprofits through consultation and creating volunteer management plans, writing grants, and strategic management plans.
Rebecca is originally from Indiana, but has spent most of her life in Central Florida. She thoroughly enjoys spending her time with her boys and attending their activities.
Kathleen Herring joined the General Counsel’s office in 2017. Kathleen is responsible for coordinating legal services and performing administrative and support services for the Associate General Counsel’s at the Office of Research and Commercialization. She serves as the primary point of contact for the contract management system at the Office of Research and Commercialization.
Kathleen’s alma mater is the University of Central Florida where she earned her B.A. in Legal Studies. Prior to joining the university, she was with Brevard County Legal Aid for over 27 years, where she served as the Program Administrator.
Maria joined the staff of the General Counsel’s office in 2013. She is the primary point of contact for the office and is responsible for our contract management system. In addition, she provides administrative support to the attorneys when needed.
Maria is a proud graduate of the University of Central Florida with a B.S. in Communications. She has previously worked in marketing and was a substitute teacher for many years.
Tanya Perry has worked in the General Counsel’s office since 2006, starting out as a paralegal before being promoted to Coordinator. Ms. Perry is responsible for public records requests; assists the Nominating and Governance committee of the Board of Trustees; maintains the university’s regulations process and website; updates the departmental website; and performs legal research as needed. Prior to joining the university, she worked as an Intellectual Property Paralegal for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing.
Ms. Perry received her B.S. in Business Administration from University at Albany in New York, and her M.B.A. from Webster University.
Kaseema Rhue began her journey as a Receptionist with the General Counsel’s Office in October 2008. In May of 2010, Kaseema was promoted to serve as Legal Assistant to Scott Cole. She oversees Scott’s calendar; schedules his meetings; assists with travel; and performs any other tasks or responsibilities needed in the office. Kaseema also coordinates with the departments within the University regarding university related subpoenas. Prior to joining the University, she served as a Legal Assistant at the State Attorney’s Office, Juvenile Division in Orlando, Florida for 7 ½ years.
Ms. Rhue received her A.A. in Business Administration from Strayer University and is pursuing her B.A. in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management.
Kaseema also serves as a minstrel in the choir at her church and is involved in outreach ministry. When she’s not spending quality time with her daughter, she helps to mentor struggling young female teens, volunteers at numerous organizations such as Harbor House, Covenant House, Guardian Care (senior facility) and other non-profit organizations.
Lucy joined the General Counsel’s office in 2016, serving as a legal assistant to Sandra Sovinski and Robert Wilson. She manages both of their calendars, documents their travel, assists with filing trademarks, and performs any other administrative tasks as needed. Prior to this position, she worked as a member of the Office of Research & Commercialization’s operations staff for three years.
Lucy received her B.A. in English, with honors, from the University of Central Florida in 2014 and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UCF in 2017.