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Justice Center’s Graduating Student Awardees Announced

Justice Center Graduating Student Award Winners (l-r): Catherine Wagner, Cat McCulloch, Cassie McCrae, Ashley Steele, Kali Cohn, Stephanie Trinh, Alejandra Avila

Justice Center Graduating Student Award Winners (left to right): Catherine Wagner, Cat McCulloch, Cassie McCrae, Ashley Steele, Kali Cohn, Stephanie Trinh and Alejandra Ávila.

The William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law honored six graduating students from The University of Texas School of Law’s Class of 2014 for their extraordinary commitment during law school to using the law to serve others.

The annual Justice Center Graduating Student Awards honor graduating students for work in nonprofit, government and legislative sectors, as well as participation in clinical courses, pro bono projects and student groups. The award winners were recognized during a reception at the law school, and each will receive $500. In addition, Barbri, Kaplan and Themis have provided the award winners with discounts for bar review courses.

“These students have made remarkable contributions to the law school and the community,” said Professor Eden Harrington, director of the Justice Center. “We are proud to recognize their outstanding accomplishments, and we wish them well as they embark on their legal careers.”

The following recent graduates received the award in 2014:

Alejandra Ávila interned for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, the U.S. Immigration Court and the Texas Supreme Court. She participated in the law school’s Immigration Clinic and Transnational Worker Rights Clinic, and was president of the Human Rights Law Society. Next year she will clerk for U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez in McAllen.

Kali Cohn served as editor in chief of the Texas Journal of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights and president of the UT Chapter of the American Constitution Society, and was the moving force behind the law school’s first orientation event on lawyering for social change last fall. She participated in the Civil Rights Clinic and spent her summers interning with the ACLU of Texas and the ACLU of Northern California.

Cassandra McCrae served as editor in chief of the Texas Environmental Law Journal and as a Teaching Quizmaster. She participated in the Civil Rights Clinic, Environmental Law Clinic and Transnational Worker Rights Clinic, and spent her summers working for Earthjustice in Tallahassee, Fla., and Midwest Environmental Advocates in Madison, Wis. Next year she will clerk for U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers of the Southern District of W.Va.

Catherine McCulloch served as president of the Public Interest Law Association. She participated in the Human Rights Clinic, the Juvenile Justice Clinic, the Criminal Defense Clinic and the Domestic Violence Clinic, and worked for Disability Rights Texas and the ACLU of Texas in Austin, and the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala. Next year she will work as a fellow serving foster youth at the Youth Law Center in San Francisco, Calif.

Ashley Steele participated in the Capital Punishment Clinic, the Actual Innocence Clinic and the Criminal Defense Clinic, and interned and volunteered for the Texas Defender Service in Austin throughout her time in law school. She also spent a summer working for the Texas Office of Capital Writs, and served as a volunteer research assistant to a private attorney on a state habeas capital case. Next year she has a fellowship from Yale Law School’s Initiative for Public Interest Law to work at Texas Defender Service in Austin on a project advocating for the creation of a state-wide public defender office for appeals in death penalty cases.

Stephanie Trinh served as president of Texas Law Fellowships, which raised $67,000 this year and helped fund 47 summer fellowships. She participated in the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic and the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic, and worked for Disability Rights Texas and Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid in Austin. Next year she will work as a fellow at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in Austin providing legal services for nonprofits, micro enterprises and low-income groups through Texas C-BAR.

Catherine Wagner served as a Rapoport Center Human Rights Scholar and participated in the Immigration Clinic and the Human Rights Clinic as well as numerous pro bono projects. She interned with the Lower Colorado River Authority and Texas Civil Rights Project in Austin and with United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials in Cambodia. Next year she will work as a fellow with the ACLU of Southern California in Los Angeles, focusing on police practices.

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