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Justice Center announces 2013 Whitehurst Public Interest Summer Fellows

Bill Whitehurst, '70, (center) stands with the 2013 Whitehurst Public Interest Summer Fellows, left to right, (l-r) Mackenzie Meador, ’14; Cassandra McCrae, ’14; Stephanie Trinh, ’14; Mary Chisolm Rios, ’14; Daniel Smith, ’14; and Sofia Meissner, ‘15

Bill Whitehurst, ’70, (center) stands with the 2013 Whitehurst Public Interest Summer Fellows, left to right, (l-r) Mackenzie Meador, ’14; Cassandra McCrae, ’14; Stephanie Trinh, ’14; Mary Chisolm Rios, ’14; Daniel Smith, ’14; and Sofia Meissner, ‘15

Six students at the University of Texas School of Law have been selected as the 2013 Whitehurst Public Interest Summer Fellows. The fellowships are made possible by a gift from Bill, ’70, and Stephanie Whitehurst, and are administered by the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law at the Law School. The fellowships are awarded annually to outstanding students between their second and third years of law school to support their summer public interest work.

The Whitehursts name the fellowships for lawyers they admire in hopes that the recipients will be inspired by the honorees’ work in the public interest. The Whitehursts have named the summer 2013 fellowships in honor of lawyers Lisa Graybill, Sean Pevsner, Paul Aaron Riffe, Rebecca Robertson, and Mark Whitburn. They have also named a fellowship in honor of the eight Doe plaintiffs in a pending civil rights case.

This year the following second-year students have been selected to receive the $4,250 fellowship:

Cassandra McCrae will work with Midwest Environmental Advocates in Madison, Wisconsin, assisting with environmental justice litigation. Last summer she interned with EarthJustice in Tallahassee, Florida. She has participated in the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic and the Environmental Law Clinic, and is a teaching quizmaster, editor in chief of the Texas Environmental Law Journal, and involved in OUTLaw and the Public Interest Law Association.

Mackenzie Meador will work with Disability Rights Texas in Austin focusing on employment discrimination cases. Last summer she interned with the Paso Del Norte Civil Rights Project in El Paso. She has participated in the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic and is a staff member of the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights. She is involved in Texas Law Fellowships and the Public Interest Law Association.

Mary Chisolm Rios will work with the Texas Defender Service in Austin researching mitigation factors for inmates on death row. Last summer she interned with the South Texas Civil Rights Project in Alamo. She has also interned with the Travis County Office of Child Representation. She has volunteered for several Pro Bono Program clinics and participated in the 2012 and 2013 winter break trips to the Texas Rio Grande Valley. She is involved in Texas Law Fellowships.

Daniel Smith will work with the Texas Civil Rights Project in Austin assisting with legal research and investigating civil rights cases. Last summer he interned with Travis County Court at Law #1 and the U.S. Embassy in Belize. He is currently a civil litigation law clerk for the Travis County Attorney’s Office. He has participated in the Immigration Clinic and is involved in Texas Law Fellowships and the Human Rights Law Society.

Stephanie Trinh will work with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in Austin helping to provide transactional legal services to low-income clients and nonprofits. Last summer she interned with Disability Rights Texas. She has participated in the Community Development Clinic and is involved in Texas Law Fellowships and the Texas Environmental Law Journal.

In addition, first-year law student Sofia Meissner has been selected to receive the fellowship. She will work with the Texas Legal Services Center’s Health Law Program on the Austin Medical-Legal Partnership. She has volunteered for Texas Legal Services on health law related projects since January and has participated in several Pro Bono Program clinics. She has a master’s degree in public heath from the University of Michigan.

“The Law School is very grateful to Bill and Stephanie Whitehurst for their generous support of these outstanding students,” said Eden Harrington, director of the Justice Center. “The fellowship program makes it possible for the students to help increase access to justice through their summer public interest work while building their own professional legal skills.”

Whitehurst Public Interest Summer Fellowship Program

William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law

Contact: Mary Crouter, Assistant Director, William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law, UT Law, 512-232-7855, mcrouter@law.utexas.edu

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