Public Interest News

Terry Maroney named to 2022 cohort of Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Scholars

Jan. 18, 2022—Maroney will work in residence at the RSF in New York City during the 2022-23 academic year. Visiting scholars pursue research and writing projects in the social, economic and behavioral sciences.

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Wesley Dozier ’19, Dawn Deaner and Erica Perry to discuss Law and Organizing at VLS Feb. 1

Jan. 15, 2022—Wesley Dozier '19 and Dawn Deaner of the Choosing Justice Initiative and Erica Perry of the Nashville Community Bail Fund will engage in a panel discussion sponsored by the Public Interest Ofiice on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 1230 p.m. The event will be held live if circumstances permit.

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Matthew Shaw joins VLS faculty as assistant professor

Jan. 13, 2022—Shaw joined the law faculty from the faculty of Vanderbilt Peabody College. His research focuses on the intersection between federal law and education policy.

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Spring Miller, Karla McKanders and Scott Jeffrey JD/PhD ’23 featured in Tennessee Voices podcast

Dec. 10, 2021—Miller, McKanders and Jeffrey discuss their public interest legal work with David Plazas, director of opinion and engagement for USAToday Network Tennessee, in this 20-minute podcast. Miller is the Assistant Dean and Martha Craig Daughtrey Director of Public Interest, McKanders directs the Immigration Practice Clinic, and Jeffrey will earn his J.D. and Ph.D. in law and economics in 2023.

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Sasha Beatty, Daniel Metzger and Marian Mikhail, all Class of 2017, to serve as public interest advisors

Nov. 18, 2021—Beatty, Metzger and Mikhail will mentor current VLS students interested in public service practice as prosecutors, environmental advocates or public defenders as part of a new program coordinated by the Public Interest Office.

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22 government and public interest employers participate in new Public Interest Viritual Recruiting Program

Oct. 19, 2021—Employers participated in one of two ways—through virtual interviews that took place Sept. 20-Oct.1 and through resumé collections in mid-September. 2L students had opportunities to apply and interview for internships in summer 2022, and 3Ls could apply and interview for postgraduate opportunities, including those supported by sponsored fellowships.

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Housing Law Clinic director Jennifer Prusak addresses importance of legal representation for renters facing eviction

Sep. 29, 2021—In a column published online at The Conversation, Prusak explains why providing more tenants facing evication with access to a lawyer could be the key to keeping more people in their homes. Prusak is an associate clinical professor of law. She launched Vanderbilt's Housing Law Clinic in spring 2021.

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Dean Chris Guthrie joins with deans of more than 40 U.S. law schools in support of AG Garland’s call to the legal community

Sep. 1, 2021—Law deans express a commitment to ensuring that families and individuals facing eviction have access to legal representation, counseling and assistance.

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Youth Opportunity Clinic partners with Youth Law Center to promote pandemic relief program for former foster youth

Aug. 5, 2021—Youth ages 18 to 26 who were in foster care after age 14 are eligible for pandemic relief funds. Vanderbilt’s Youth Opportunity Clinic and the Youth Law Center are sharing information with other lawyers and service providers. The Clinic can help young adults who have aged out of foster care apply for up to $1,200 before the extended application deadline of September 15, 2021.

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Kate Uyeda ’22 receives Garrison Social Justice Scholarship

Jul. 22, 2021—Uyeda is working this summer at the Fair Elections Center, a nonprofit advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., with support from the scholarship, which provides summer stipends to help Garrison Social Justice Scholars launch their careers by engaging in summer pro bono legal work.

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Tasia Harris ’23 receives Garrison Social Justice Scholarship

Jul. 16, 2021—With support from the scholarship, Harris worked this summer as a consumer law intern for the Legal Aid Society for the District of Columbia supporting low-income clients whose income was negatively affected by the pandemic. Garrison Scholars receive supplemental scholarships and summer stipends to help them launch public interest law careers.

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Sara Mayeux wins 2020 David J. Langum Sr. Prize in American Legal History for her book, Free Justice

Jun. 17, 2021—The prize is awarded annually by the Langum Foundation to “the best book in American legal history that is accessible to the educated general public." Mayeux’s book chronicles the history of public defenders in 20th-century America.

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97 VLS students to work pro bono for judges, government agencies and law offices, and nonprofits in summer 2021

Jun. 16, 2021—Students will be working for course credit or stipend support in state and federal courts and government, nonprofit and corporate law offices in 20 states, Puerto Rico,, Washington, D.C., and Canada.

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Allen King named 2021 George Barrett Social Justice Fellow

Jun. 3, 2021—King will develop an online intake system to help attorneys at Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors, a nonprofit immigration law office, serve more clients.

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Vel Lewis named 2021 George Barrett Social Justice Fellow

Jun. 3, 2021—Lewis will work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Washington, D.C., where she will serve in the U.S. Protection and Solutions Unit.

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15 members of the Class of 2021 complete Pro Bono Pledge

Apr. 28, 2021—Vel Lewis ’21 was recognized for logging the highest number of pro bono hours—654—as a VLS student. Emily Burgess ’22 and Toni Cross ‘23 led their classes in pro bono hours worked with 561 and 70 hours, respectively.

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Kira Benton ’21 to join Still She Rises Tulsa criminal defense team

Apr. 23, 2021—Still She Rises Tulsa is a holistic legal advocacy organization serving indigent mothers with an array of legal services, including criminal defense, family law and civil legal services. Benton worked as an intern for the organization during summer 2020.

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Reaction to today’s verdict, a message from Dean Chris Guthrie

Apr. 20, 2021—With today’s news that the jury voted to convict Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, it is important to acknowledge that the trauma of this case, like so many others, remains with us. We have had to relive this violent encounter through the horrific video that many of us have seen with our...

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Margaret Schmucker ’94 featured in “The State of Texas vs. Melissa,” a documentary about death row inmate Melissa Lucio

Apr. 20, 2021—Schmucker has been working on Lucio’s case for 10 years. The documentary about her case was an Official Selection of the 2020 Tribecca Film Festival and is now available on Hulu.

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VLS students work pro bono for TN Free Legal Answers as part of attorney teams

Apr. 20, 2021—Emily Burgess ’22 and Anya van Soestbergen ‘22 worked with Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services to launch a new volunteer program through which students work on attorney teams to answer legal questions.

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First Amendment expert G.S. Hans on how social media companies moderate user content

Mar. 23, 2021—Assistant Clinical Professor of Law Gautam Hans, who directs the First Amendment Clinic, is featured as part of Vanderbilt University's "Ask an Expert" series.

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Jim Cuminale to endow Public Interest directorship in honor of Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey

Mar. 2, 2021—Cuminale’s gift provides permanent funding for the leader of Vanderbilt’s Public Interest office, which provides all students opportunities for pro bono legal service and mentors those seeking careers in public advocacy.

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Government and Public Interest Virtual Fair features 31 legal employers

Mar. 2, 2021—Representatives of 31 government and public interest employers across Tennessee and the Southeast participated in the annual Government and Public Interest Day. This year’s event was a virtual fair featuring live information sessions scheduled throughout January and early February along with videos and written descriptions of employment programs and opportunities. The event allows students to...

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Public Interest News


Criminal Justice Clinic Fellow Joshua Stanton works with students to represent criminal defendants in challenging times

Jan. 28, 2021—Stanton works with Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs Sue Kay ’79 to supervise students in the Criminal Justice Clinic as they represent indigent clients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“They, Them and Theirs,” Harvard Law Review article by Jessica Clarke, wins the Dukeminier Awards Michael Cunningham Prize

Jan. 28, 2021—Clarke’s article has been reprinted in the UCLA Law Dukeminier Awards Journal, which annually recognizes the best legal scholarship on sexual orientation and gender identity issues.

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