Stanford Law School Students Honored for Exceptional Public Interest Work

SLS public interest awards
Pictured (from left): SLS Lecturer in Law & Directing Attorney of Statewide Education Rights for Public Counsel Lauren Brady, JD ’06, Michael Steinberg JD ’86, SLS Dean M. Elizabeth Magill, and Associate Dean for Public Service and Public Interest Law Diane Chin. Photo by Christine Baker

In a ceremony on May 18, Stanford Law School (SLS) students were presented with awards recognizing their outstanding contributions in public interest law.

In addition, the law school acknowledged and celebrated the 27 graduating students and recent alumni who were awarded prestigious post-graduate fellowships or government honors positions.

A total of 89 graduating students were recognized for Pro Bono Distinction, and four students were presented with individual awards for their exceptional work.

The Deborah L. Rhode Public Interest Award was presented by Professor Rhode to Cindy Garcia, JD ‘16, Virginia “Ginny” Halden, JD ’16, and Ruhan Nagra, JD ’16. The Lisa M. Schnitzer Memorial Scholarship was presented by Amari Lynn Hammonds, JD ’17, to Morgan Lewis, JD ’18.

A new SLS fellowship also was announced.

Deborah L. Rhode Public Interest Award

The Deborah L. Rhode Public Interest Award recognizes graduating students whose activities have resulted in outstanding contributions to underrepresented groups or public interest causes outside of Stanford Law School and/or outstanding public service within the law school.

This year, the selection committee chose three recipients.

  • Cindy Garcia, JD ’16 – Cindy will begin her public interest career as an Equal Justice Works Fellow providing critical legal services to unaccompanied immigrant minors detained in Los Angeles. She has worked hard to achieve her lifelong career goal to become an immigrants’ rights attorney and has exuded “unwavering enthusiasm” in working with immigrant communities at every stage of law school.
  • Ginny Halden, JD ’16  Ginny has been “tirelessly” dedicated to both serving communities in need of legal help and leading her peers to do the same. Over her three years at SLS, Ginny has been a leader in the public interest community, serving as a student leader for the Housing Pro Bono Project, as co-chair of Shaking the Foundations, with the Stanford Critical Law Society and as an active public interest mentor for incoming students. Ginny will work for Philadelphia Legal Assistance on its Pennsylvania Farmworker Project through an SLS Fellowship.
  • Ruhan Nagra, JD ’16  Ruhan has been a leader in the public interest community at SLS, including serving as co-chair of Shaking the Foundations. She spent her summers with the Asian Law Caucus and Center for Constitutional Rights and will return to the Center for Constitutional Rights after graduation as the recipient of the Bertha Fellowship.

Lisa M. Schnitzer Memorial Scholarship – Morgan Lewis, JD ’18

The Lisa M. Schnitzer Memorial Scholarship was established by the family and friends of Lisa M. Schnitzer, a first-year student at Stanford Law School who was killed in a car accident in 1987. The scholarship was designed to be a lasting tribute to Lisa, in recognition of her deeply held commitment to helping others, particularly those less fortunate.

This year’s winner is Morgan Lewis, JD ’18. Before law school, Morgan served as a Policy Associate at Berkeley Law’s Earl Warren Institute for four years, where her work focused on highlighting challenges facing victims of crime as they engaged with the criminal justice system.

While working on a project at Warren to write a new evidence-based policy manual to better serve youth detained at San Francisco’s Juvenile Justice Center, she successfully lobbied the department to allow her to produce a Youth Handbook. It provided accessible information for youth about department policies and the processes through which they could exercise their rights.

Morgan will be returning to Oakland this summer to work with the Public Interest Law Project, which provides litigation and advocacy support to local legal services and public interest law programs throughout California.

Pro Bono Distinction

Each year, a sizeable number of the Stanford Law School graduating class earns Pro Bono Distinction. Students who volunteer at least 50 hours of law-related pro bono work without compensation or academic credit before graduation will receive Pro Bono Distinction. Those who complete 150 hours or more of pro bono work graduate with High Distinction, and those who complete 300 hours or more graduate with Highest Distinction.

New SLS Fellowship Announced

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP Partner Michael Steinberg, JD ’86, announced a new post-graduate fellowship available only to SLS. The fellowship is being offered this year by Sullivan & Cromwell. It will provide funding for a two-year term as an attorney at Public Counsel for current students and recent graduates of Stanford Law School. Public Counsel is one of the nation’s largest providers of free legal service.

“I am deeply grateful to Michael Steinberg and Sullivan & Cromwell for their generosity,” said M. Elizabeth Magill, Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean at Stanford Law School. “By creating this new fellowship, Michael and the firm will allow our graduates to bring their public interest legal skills and passion to serve the critical needs of the clients of Public Counsel. At a time when the widening income and access gaps are increasingly stark, we are delighted that our graduates will be able to put their talent and training to work to serve the public good.”

Those interested in learning more about the fellowship should contact Liz Bluestein, vice president and general counsel with Public Counsel, at (213) 385-2977, ext. 131.

Program Details

View the entire program, including post-graduate fellowships, here.