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News Posted on May 7, 2013

Public Service Graduation Honors Class of 2013

Members of the King Hall Class of 2013 celebrated completion of the Public Service Law Program and Hannah Labaree '13 was honored with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award at the 2013 Public Service Graduation held in the Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom on April 26. The event included remarks from speakers including Dean Kevin R. Johnson, Professor Courtney Joslin, and Jacques Verduin, founding Director of the Insight Prison Project, as well as presentation of public service-related scholarships, grants, and fellowships.

Public Service Graduation 2013Kirsten Hill '04, Associate Director of Career Services and Public Interest Career Planning, acted as master of ceremonies, welcoming the audience and praising the Class of 2013 members for their dedication to public service.  "Collectively, over the past three years, these students have devoted more than 40,000 hours of service to the courts, to legal aid and defender organizations, and government agencies in service to those who otherwise do not have meaningful access to the legal system," said Hill. "Today, we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and recognize these students for their demonstrated commitment to public service."

"There is no gathering of the King Hall community that is more true to the Law School's mission than the Public Service Graduation," Dean Johnson said.  "The Regents of the University of California who established this law school in 1964 could not have imagined what they created. Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall has produced students who exemplify Dr. King's character by turning words about serving the public interest into deeds of public service." In an impressive demonstration of the King Hall community's ongoing commitment to public service, nearly half of the Class of 2013 will receive the Public Service Law certificate, Dean Johnson said.

Professor Joslin also praised the Class of 2013 Public Service graduates, thanking them for their dedication.  She offered some reflections as to how the students could continue to work as social justice advocates as they begin their career paths. Social change takes time, persistence, and patience, she observed, and there are many ways to participate.  For example, private firms, private attorneys, nonprofit organizations, law students and professors, state and federal agencies, and others all have contributed over the course of more than three decades to the effort to establish marriage rights for same-sex couples, she said.

"Having almost completed your law school careers, you are extremely privileged to have access to an important set of tools and skills, and with them an ability and power to make change," Joslin said. "So regardless of where you're off to next, I urge you to find ways to use the expertise and power that comes along with a legal education to further your passions. This could mean doing pro bono work at your firm. You could serve as a volunteer lawyer for your local bar association.  You could serve on boards of civil rights and public interest organizations. But whatever it is, find ways to serve the many individuals and many communities that need your assistance."

Verduin congratulated the graduates and talked about his work pioneering rehabilitation programs in the California prison system over the course of the past 17 years.  He showed a video of inmates experiencing rehabilitation counseling in the Insight Prison Project, and encouraged the students to approach the practice law not merely as a profession but as "a calling, a vocation to serve justice."

"You can practice law and have a job, win a case, have a good income," he said. "You can be a clever person who knows how to argue well and have a role that is well compensated.  Nothing wrong with that.  But there is also the possibility to feel a calling to serve justice.  That deals with having fire in the belly.  What I'm saying is feed that fire in your belly."

The awards presentations began with Amagda Pérez, Director of the Immigration Law Clinic, and Holly Cooper, supervising attorney with the clinic, presenting the Clinical Legal Education Association Award to Nicholas Starkman '13. Clara Levers '03 and Theo Cuison '11 presented Immigration Law Clinic 30th Anniversary Scholarships to Kristy Blumeyer-Martinez '13 and Emily Wilson '13.  King Hall Legal Foundation Board Members Karen Soell '13 and Erin Levenick '14 announced the Summer Public Interest Grant recipients: Megha Bhatt '15, Adrian Connolly '14, Desi Fairly '15, Roxane Farmer '14, Raymundo Jacquez '14, Erin Levenick '14, Christine Meeuwsen '14, Shannon Morrissey '15, Sean Piers '15, and Nienke Schouten '14. They also announced the Fourth Annual KHLF Bar Grant recipients, Monica Crooms '13 and Pearl Khan '13, and the Hogan Award winner Nienke Schouten.  Professor Anupam Chander, Director of the California International Law Center, announced the UC Human Rights Fellowships winners Imron Bhatti '14 and Anita Mukherji '14, and John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowships recipients Elizabeth Ballart '14 and Anna von Herrmann '14.

In one of the evening's highlights, student members of the Public Service Graduation Committee presented the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award, which is given each year to the graduating student or students who best exemplify Dr. King's vision and commitment to public service. Thirty-one students were nominated for the award, which is student-nominated and student-selected. The 2013 award winner, Hannah Labaree, was honored for her work with the National Lawyers Guild, Students United for Reform and Justice, and the Immigration Law Clinic.

Immediately following the Public Service Graduation, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends gathered in the King Hall courtyard for a "Farewell BBQ" hosted by the King Hall Alumni Association. The event included the presentation of the 2013 Frank and Margaret Johns Alumni Association Award to Patricija Petrac '13 and Christian Acevedo '13 by Alumni Association Board Members Gage Dungy '03 and Alberto Roldan '92.

Also honored at the BBQ were the Class of 2013 members selected for the Order of the Barristers, the national honorary organization formed to encourage excellence in oral advocacy and brief writing: Christian Acevedo, Kara DiBiasio, Lauren Herrera, Elizabeth Klueck, Eric Lofgren, Meline Mailyan, Zachary Schultz, Karen Soell, Michael Yun, and Nathan Zhang.