May 4, 2017
2017 Public Service Awards Luncheon
On April 20, Southwestern students and faculty gathered at the annual Public Service Awards Luncheon to honor all the students who have collectively volunteered a total of 17,000 hours over the past year to provide free legal services to those in need. Special recognition was also given to students Nathalie Meza Contreras and Ashley Williams, winners of the George and Katrina Woolverton Public Interest Award, and to the five recipients of the 2017 Public Interest Law Service Awards: Valerie Brizuela, Erik Ceja, Lynn Franco, Luis Gonzales, Chantal Renta, and Heather Nicholson. To earn the Woolverton Award, Contreras and Williams demonstrated “extraordinary dedication to public interest law activities while at Southwestern.”
2017 marks the fourth year that the student Public Interest Law Committee recognized a Student Organization who, as a whole, had demonstrated the most significant contribution to public service activities and engagement both on and off campus during the 2016-17 academic year. This year, the Tax Law Society was honored with the Student Organization Volunteer Achievement Award recognizing the work of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Clinic. This season the VITA Clinic prepared over 200 tax returns with a total federal refund of over $200,000.
Public interest is an essential component of Southwestern’s curriculum and philosophy, and students are encouraged to participate in public service through a wide range of programs and individual pursuits. Students who complete 25 hours of pro bono public service in a year receive a formal letter of recognition from the Dean. Furthermore, students who perform at least 75 hours of public service throughout their law school experience are recognized at commencement and a "Public Service Distinction" notation is included in their law school transcript.