1st Circuit. University of Connecticut School of Law third-year student Jessica Stein received the Exemplary Public Service Award for a Student from Equal Justice Works. This award is presented annually to a student or student group to recognize exceptional workwithin the law school community for meeting the needs of an underserved person or community. Stein won this award based on her work with Homeless Experience Legal Protection (H.E.L.P.), but her other public interest work was considered as well. On H.E.L.P.’s website, Stein acknowledged, “H.E.L.P. has been a team effort since the beginning.” H.E.L.P. enlists local legal professionals across the country to provide pro bono legal assistance to homeless individuals.
2nd Circuit. Third-year Syracuse University College of Law student Gregory D. Eriksen wrote his way to national recognition and received the 2010 Burton Award for Distinguished Legal Writing. The annual award recognizes law students and practitioners for exceptional writing. Eriksen’s work, “Breaking Wind, Fixing Wind: Facilitating Wind Energy Development in New York State,” was published in volume 60, book 1 of the Syracuse Law Review and was one of only 15 selected in the nation.
3rd Circuit. The Civil Rights Appellate Clinic at The Dickinson School of Law at Penn State filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP on behalf of six national organizations—the National Employment Lawyers Association, American Association of Justice, AARP, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco Employment Law Center. The brief addresses an important but unresolved issue in employment law—the scope and protection of a key anti-retaliation provision within Title VII. “Compiling this brief in a short amount of time was very challenging. But submitting the brief to the Supreme Court of the United States was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in law school and the process was an excellent exercise in teamwork and cooperation,” says Isaac Wakefield, who is also an associate editor of the Penn State Environmental Law Review.
4th Circuit. Duke University School of Law first-year student Lauren Bonds, who was a cross country and track and field athlete at the University of Kansas, was among the top 30 honorees for the 2010 NCAA Woman of the Year award. The top 30 nominees were chosen from 452 submitted for the award. The award honors student-athletes who have distinguished themselves in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, community service, and leadership. Bonds was a four-time Academic All-American and Big 12 All-American Team honoree. Bonds placed seventh in the 1,500 meter run at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and earned All-American honors. She was also the Big 12 champion in the 1,500 meter. Bonds holds five school records and is an 11-time All-Big 12 performer in indoor and outdoor track combined. In cross country, she led the team in all six meets as a three-year team captain and finished 61st at the NCAA Cross Country National Championships her senior year.
5th Circuit. Vanessa Coe, a third-year law student at Nova Southeastern University Law Center, received the 16th Annual Public Service Law Network National Pro Bono Publico Award. The purpose of the award is to recognize the significant contributions law students make to underserved populations, the public interest community, and legal education by performing pro bono or public service work. Coe was nominated by the NSU Public Interest Law Center and was selected because of her extraordinary work with Florida Legal Services-Migrant Farmworker Justice Project on behalf of Filipino H2-B guest workers. Her many hours of volunteer work will lead to hundreds of guest workers receiving millions of dollars in back wages.
6th Circuit. JeRhonda Lynem, a third-year law student at Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law, was selected as an associate editor for the Midwest Black Law Students Association Law Journal. Lynem will be responsible for completing the first round of editing for every article, note, or comment selected for publication. The Midwest BLSA Law Journal was instituted in May 2007. Its goal is to provide a publication that facilitates awareness of current issues across economic, racial, and geographic lines.
7th Circuit. Justin McDevitt, a second-year law student at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, won first place in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers writing competition with an article entitled “Compromise Is Complicity: Why There Is No Middle Road in the Struggle to Protect America’s Day Laborers.” At Loyola, McDevitt is a brief writer for the ABA Moot Court team, an associate editor for the International Law Review, a staff writer for the Public Interest Law Reporter, and a teacher of Street Law at an area high school. He has volunteered with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and is committed to the causes of equality and opportunity for all workers, native or immigrant.
8th Circuit. Joshua Fisher, a third-year student at the University of Minnesota Law School, started his own website (Dodger Divorce) to write about the legal battles of divorcing Dodger owners Frank and Jamie McCourt and what the outcome is likely to mean for the “Boys in Blue.” Fisher started the site in October 2009, and over the months he has become, according to a September 19 New York Times article, “the go-to guy for analysis of the McCourt divorce.”
9th Circuit. University of Southern California Gould School of Law third-year student Tina Sohaili placed first in the National LGBT Bar Association’s writing competition for her paper titled “Securing Safe Schools: Using Title IX Liability to Address Peer Harassment of Transgender Students.” In addition to winning $1,000, Sohaili will have her paper published in the Journal of Law and Sexuality at Tulane University Law School, and received registration, airfare, and lodging at the 2010 Lavender Law Career Fair and Conference in Miami Beach. Her paper was chosen from more than 50 submissions to the Michael Greenberg Student Writing Competition.
10th Circuit. Maria Ruskiewicz, a third-year student at Oklahoma City University School of Law, recently shared her story with the national news media about her confusing and frightening experience with inappropriate text messages sent from a Wisconsin district attorney. Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz admitted to sending 30 sexually suggestive text messages to a domestic abuse victim. Ruskiewicz appeared on Good Morning America and the The Early Show. “The reason why I’m coming forward is he abuses his power, not only with women, but with women in certain situations who are extremely vulnerable to his authority,” Ruskiewicz told The Associated Press. Kratz has since resigned his position.
11th Circuit. Eleven students from The George Washington University Law School participated in Investing in America: A CNBC Town Hall Event with President Obama, which aired live from the Newseum in downtown Washington, D.C., this fall. The hour-long program featured President Obama answering audience questions and presenting his views on the economy. “The experience was amazing,” second-year law student Sarah Goodman said on GW Law’s website. “I was able to listen to our president speak about contested issues in person and shake his hand afterward. This once-in-a-lifetime experience reaffirmed not only my love for Washington, D.C., but also for the law school for enabling such an experience.”
12th Circuit. Six University of Montana School of Law students attended the American Agricultural Law Association Annual Conference by virtue of a grant from the Montana Department of Agriculture’s Growth Through Agriculture Program. The theme for the 2010 conference is “Sustainable and Global Agriculture in Unsettled Economic Times.” Third-year students Cassie Dellwo, Claire Yauck, and Jessica LaRoche and second-year students Rachel Clark, Ryan Gustafson, and Trevor Smith attended the conference in Omaha, Nebraska, October 8–9, 2010. The annual conference focuses on an array of topics related to agricultural law and allows law students, practitioners, and experts to interact.
13th Circuit. Emily Posner, a first-year student at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law, received the 2010 Roger Baldwin Award from the Maine Civil Liberties Union for her work on solitary confinement and prison issues over the last year. Posner is a student and advocate who initiated the legislation to reform solitary confinement in Maine. In 2008, Posner began corresponding with Herman Wallace, a prisoner who has spent 38 years in solitary confinement at the notorious Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana. Inspired by this relationship, Posner worked with her representative to draft legislation. As a volunteer, she spent countless hours at the State House to lobby and organize for the bill.
14th Circuit. Tracy Tefertiller and Emily Prifogle, second-year students at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, won first and second place, respectively, in this year’s Adam A. Milani Disability Law Writing Competition. Sponsored by Mercer University School of Law, the national competition seeks to promote greater interest in disability law and excellent legal writing skills in law students. Named for the late Milani, a former disability rights activist and renowned scholar, the competition solicits student-written trial or appellate briefs on disability law, theory, or practice. Tefertiller, who will receive a $600 prize, argued that a commercial website is a place of public accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Prifogle, who will receive a $400 prize, argued against this conclusion and for a more narrow reading of the ADA.
15th Circuit. Second-year Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School student Swati Sharmi completed her externship in her home country of Nepal. She worked in the Office of United Nations–Support to Participatory Constitutional Building in Nepal. She researched topics on international law that would apply to Nepal.