The ABA Law Student Division is proud to announce the winners of the yearly Law Student Division Awards.
Congratulations to this year’s winners, who will be recognized at our ABA Annual Meeting awards breakfast held in conjunction with the Young Lawyers Division on Saturday, August 10 in San Francisco. Is your school on the list? Make sure to send a representative to accept your award.
Here are your winners!
Chicago-Kent College of Law
Last summer, the Chicago-Kent Lambdas advocated for gender-neutral bathrooms at the Chicago-Kent College of Law to ensure that transgender, gender non-conforming, and gender non-binary members of the school community felt safe, respected, and comfortable using the bathrooms on campus. In Fall 2018, the bathrooms were finalized and ready for student use.
The Lambdas have also successfully promoted widespread allyship using a two-fold pronoun awareness campaign that encourages faculty and students to use pronouns in their email signatures, and incorporating pronoun signs at event sign-in tables to encourage attendees to display pronouns on name tags.
Chicago-Kent collaborated with the Lambdas to design new bathroom signs and renovated the former men’s room by removing the urinals and updating it to match the rest of the bathrooms’ style.
There have been no negative incidents and no complaints regarding the bathrooms. The Lambdas have received positive feedback from current and prospective students, but generally have received neutral responses, which is exemplary of the bathroom’s success, as it indicates that the gender-neutral bathrooms are normalized features of the Chicago-Kent community.
University of Virginia School of Law
The Virginia Law Weekly Editorial Board as 32 student staff, all volunteers. Members perform the editing, production, research, photography, and reporting. Each article is edited five times before it is approved for production.
The paper includes a faculty quotes section; an Around North Grounds thumbs up/thumbs down section; a cartoon drawn by the staff cartoonist; the weekly docket of events around the university.
The Virginia Law Weekly has published weekly during the academic year – usually 12 times per semester – since 1948. It distributed between 325 and 350 copies for free each week.
Funds come from the Student Activities Fee Committee or The Law School Foundation. A small amount comes from alumni funding and advertising.
This year, the staff covered Sixth Circuit Judge Amul Thapar’s visit to UVA and was cited by SCOTUSblog in its profile. It ran stories on the school’s changes to the student printing policy and changes to the membership policies of the Virginia Law Review.
The Law Weekly also reported on visits by retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, Seventh Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Judge Carlton Reeves of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, and U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.
Florida State University College of Law
The 2019 Judy M. Weightman Memorial Public Interest Award goes to Florida State. Its FSU Day at the Capitol celebrates its academic and athletic successes and brings awareness to its programs for the public, recognizing FSU alumni who serve in the legislature.
The Public Interest Law Center has been working to help children incarcerated in adult prisons find a second chance at life. At FSU Day, students were able to visit tons of legislatures who were present for the event and stress the importance of certain bills that would help both the children who are incarcerated, and the communities that they will be returned to in the near future.
FSU Day at the Capitol and the subsequent Public Interest Law Center events are promoted throughout the year via the school’s public relations department and local newspapers and online publications.
Florida State University College of Law
Among the activities the FSU College of Law SBA organized this year:
Carnival for a Cure: Established to benefit cancer research in honor of two faculty members diagnosed with various forms of cancer. All donations and proceeds were split between the American Cancer Society and the FSU Law Team for the Tallahassee Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. The event raised more than $1,600.
Active Shooter Training: In the fall, tragedy struck the FSU family again. A person entered the Tallahassee Hot Yoga studio and began shooting. Two people died—an FSU student and professor. A law student present who was fought back against the shooter and saved the lives of the others in the studio. FSU Law SBA paired with the Office of Student Advancement and the Tallahassee Police Department to prepare our students for active shooter situations by learning the options available if a shooter comes to the law school or a public place.
Diversity Week: An organization fair put a spotlight on the three pillars of diversity: Professional Diversity, Cultural Diversity, and Ideological Diversity. Students submitted “Diversity Statements” that were posted on social media that highlighted the many different paths to law school and the diverse backgrounds of students.
FSU Law’s SBA also merged their Vice-President and ABA Representative positions; streamlined the group’s social media and calendared communications between SBA, the administration, other organizations, and students; continued its Speaker Series; and hosted multiple panels to connect students with attorneys in various fields of law.
Barry University, Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law
Barry University’s School of Law VITA program continues delivering exemplary service to the members of the community. The students initially undertake the task of becoming certified tax preparers through the VITA program. This involves attendance at a comprehensive training course as well as licensing certification, much of which is conducted weeks in advance of tax season. This year, Barry’s training team was able to train more than 200 volunteers many of whom undertook the responsibility of seeing this tax season become a success for the Barry VITA program.
As tax season gets underway students begin the process of transforming the Student Life Center into a VITA tax office. As guests arrive for their appointments, they are greeted by students who, from the beginning of the experience, assist tax preparers with filing out documents, reviewing tax documents to ensure the necessary paperwork is in hand to complete an accurate tax return.
Students not only volunteer at the law school to assist the community, but many of the students have chosen to expand their reach through volunteering at one of the many United Way VITA locations throughout Central Florida. Many of these sites are understaffed and the assistance from students is greatly appreciated as it ensures the sites are able to serve even greater number of individuals in the community. Through Director David Foote’s assistance, Barry School of Law is making a real difference.
Many of the members of the community are not native English speakers. This creates a language barrier that is difficult to traverse when assisting with tax preparation. This year, student leaders undertook the task of developing a training program specifically designed to educate tax preparers, who are dual language speakers, on how to effectively communicate important aspects of tax filing with clients, helping them better grasp the process and issues we are assisting them with.
The skills students acquire in law school are applied extensively through the VITA program. Many students are presented with real life challenges from clients who describe their situation, and students must search for solutions and answers to those questions.