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February 11, 2008

UT Law hosts Color of Justice program for local minority high school students

Over fifty minority students from local Austin high schools, including Lanier, Gonzalo Garza, Akins, Austin, and LBJ, will have the opportunity on February 15, 2008 to participate in the Color of Justice program, a program started by the National Association of Women Judges to introduce minority students to a diverse group of minority judges, lawyers, and law students whose stories illustrate the many career options available in the law and judiciary.

The intent of the program is to inspire minority high school students to consider the law as a career, and to aspire to be a judge as well as a lawyer.

UT Law’s William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law is joining with the Travis County Women Lawyers Association (TCWLA), the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ), as well as conference sponsors, the Austin Bar Association, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld LLC and Winstead PC, to bring this exciting opportunity to the students. This half-day event at the Law School will feature two panel discussions with speakers sharing their personal experiences and encouraging the students to pursue a career in law. The Color of Justice video, created by the NAWJ, will also be shown to the students.

The first panel, titled “The Color of Justice: Making a Difference,” will be led by several esteemed judges, including Texas Supreme Court Justice Dale Wainwright; Judge Fortunato “Pete” Benavides of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals; Judge Gisela Triana, ’88, of the Travis County Civil District Court; and Judge Wilford “Wil” Flowers, ’76, of the Travis County Criminal District Court. The panel will be moderated by Bea Ann Smith, ’75, former justice for the Third Court of Appeals.

The second panel, titled “Law as a Career: Preparing the Way” will be led by a mix of legal professionals, including Karen Kennard of the City of Austin’s Attorney Office; Bill Hopkins, ’95, of Brown McCarroll LLC; Vinh Tran, ’94, of the Law Office of Vinh M. Tran; Daniel Rodriguez, UT Law’s Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law; and Stephanie Kolmar, a first year UT Law student. Rande Herrell, an assistant Attorney General and President Elect of TCWLA will be the moderator.

As part of the program, Kolmar will receive a $1,000 “Access to Justice Scholarship” given by the NAWJ for her demonstrated and passionate commitment to the achievement of equality of opportunity and access in the justice system.

The program is spearheaded by Judge Elisabeth Earle, District Director for the NAWJ, and TCWLA Board Member Elizabeth Branch.

Related links:

William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law

Travis County Women Lawyers Association

National Association of Women Judges

Contact: Tom Henninger, Communications, thenninger@law.utexas.edu