Public Interest News

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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Alumni Equity, Diversity and Community General News Public Interest News


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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Alumni General News Public Interest News


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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Alumni Career Services General News Public Interest News


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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Alumni General News Public Interest News


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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Alumni General News Public Interest News


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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Daniel J. Sharfstein appointed to the Dick and Martha Lansden Chair in Law

Dec. 18, 2020—Sharfstein is a legal historian whose work addresses race and citizenship in the United States. He is the author of two award-winning books, “The Invisible Line” and “Thunder in the Mountains,” and received a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship.

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Ashlee McFarlane ’09 profiled by Bloomberg Law

Nov. 16, 2020—McFarlane is now a partner at Gerger Khalil Hennessy & McFarlane in Houston. She represented Maurice Hall, a passenger in the car when George Floyd was stopped by police in Minneapolis who was himself arrested in Houston days after Floyd's death. McFarlane was a trial attorney with the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice before she entered private practice in 2018. She focuses on defending clients in federal procedings.

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James Danly ’13 elevated to chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Nov. 12, 2020—James P. Danly ’13 has been named chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Danly has served as one of five FERC commissioners, who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, since March 2020. Before being appointed to the FERC commission, Danly had served since 2017 as general counsel for FERC, where...

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Worker Advocacy Practicum addresses “access to justice crisis” affecting low-wage workers

Oct. 15, 2020—Assistant Dean for Public Interest Spring Miller launches a new practicum through which students advocate for the employment rights of low-wage workers.

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Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs Susan Kay ’79 elected to ABA Council on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar

Sep. 21, 2020—The ABA Council on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar is recognized at the national accrediting agency for programs leading to the J.D. Kay has previously served on the Standards Review Committee and Accreditation Committee of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar.

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Spring Miller receives 2020 B. Riney Green Access to Justice Award from Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services

Sep. 18, 2020—The award recognizes Tennessee advocates who promote state-wide collaboration that supports projects that strengthen access to justice across the state.

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Vanderbilt Law Review members make collective gift to support minority students with ABA diversity scholarship

Sep. 17, 2020—All members of the VLR staff donated the fees they would customarily use to pay for meeting space and supplies to the ABA's Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund, which provides $15,000 scholarships to up to 20 diverse law students each year.

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