Public Interest News

Amber Banks ’20 receives 2020 Equal Justice Works Regional Public Interest Award

May. 6, 2020—Banks is one of eight 2020 law graduates honored for their exemplary commitment to public interest law and pro bono work. She was a Garrison Social Justice Scholar.

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2020 graduates Joe Sandford and Willoe DeFuccio named Gideon’s Promise Fellows

May. 4, 2020—Sandford will join the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office in Knoxville, Tennessee; DeFuccio will join the Mecklenberg Defenders in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Alumni General News Public Interest News


16 members of the Class of 2020 complete Pro Bono Pledge

May. 1, 2020—Amber Banks ’20 completed 611 pro bono hours as a VLS student. Eunice Lim ’21 and Jackson Hill ’22 were also recognized for leading their classes in pro bono hours with 299 and 99 hours, respectively.

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VLS Pro Bono Spring Break team works at Just City in Memphis with Wesley Dozier ’19

Apr. 21, 2020—Dozier is working at Just City as an Equal Justice Works Fellow. He supervised a team of students who worked on expungement cases, participating a Court Watch program, and supported other criminal justice advocacy initiatives.

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VLS Pro Bono Spring Break team works at Mississippi Center for Justice

Apr. 15, 2020—Students worked in an expungement clinic, investigated policing practices to support impact litigation, researched the criminalization of HIV and supported other legal advocacy initiatives.

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VLS Office of Public Interest partners with Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors to offer immigration intake clinics

Feb. 14, 2020—Twelve students are providing more than 420 hours of pro bono legal work through Woodbine Immigration Intake Clinics scheduled throughout the academic year at a local church.

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Stanton Foundation First Amendment clinic settles case in a win for clients

Feb. 9, 2020—Clinic students served as co-counsel in Human Rights Defense Center v. Marshall County, Tennessee, which claimed that the county sheriff’s department engaged in unconstitutional censorship.

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Susan Kay ’79 honored with “Lifetime Achievement Award” by ACLU of Tennessee

Nov. 14, 2019—Kay, who is associate dean for experiential education, has taught at VLS since 1980 and established the law school's first clinic. The award recognizes her lifetime dedication to criminal justice reform and legal advocacy, which includng successfully challenging Nashville's jail conditions. She was honored on Nov. 14.

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First Amendment Clinic files amicus brief in Georgia v. Public Resource addressing public access to state law

Oct. 17, 2019—Supreme Court case addresses the right of citizens to freely access official statutory codes as a means of ensuring effective participation in democratic self-government.

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Amicus brief co-authored by Jessica Clarke asserts that Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender identity

Oct. 4, 2019—Clarke and her co-authors argue that the Title VII prohibition on discrimination based on sex also means employers cannot discriminate against employees based on sexual orientation or transgender identity.

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Panelists Danny Glover, David Cole and Bruce Raynor to discuss political activism and advocacy at VLS Oct. 10

Sep. 19, 2019—The 2019 George Barrett Social Justice Lecture, “Political Activism, Legal Advocacy and Labor Organizing: A Conversation on Creating Change,” is a panel discussion featuring actor/activist Danny Glover, ACLU Legal Director David Cole and labor leader Bruce Raynor.

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Over 70 1Ls attend Public Service Orientation

Sep. 6, 2019—Assistant Dean for Public Interest Spring Miller and eight attorneys engaged in legal advocacy in Nashville introduced first-year law students to opportunities to gain legal experience through pro bono service with local organizations.

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Public Interest News


96 Vanderbilt Law students received 2019 summer stipends to support pro bono legal work

Aug. 2, 2019—Students are working in the legal departments of federal and state agencies, and in judicial chambers, prosecutors' and public defenders offices, for legal nonprofit organizations and in corporate legal departments.

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32 Vanderbilt Law students serve summer internships for course credit

Aug. 2, 2019—Students received course credit for their work in the legal departments of federal agencies and judicial chambers, with U.S. Attorney’s and states’ attorneys general offices, for legal nonprofit organizations and in corporate legal departments

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Holly Thompson and Vanessa Zapata named George Barrett Social Justice Fellows for 2019

May. 21, 2019—Thompson will focus on labor trafficking at Legal Aid of North Carolina; Zapata will advocate for medical care and support for adults with disabilities at the Tennessee Justice Center.

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Wesley Dozier ’19 (BA’16) named Equal Justice Works Fellow

May. 14, 2019—Dozier will work at Just City, a legal nonprofit in Memphis that focuses on adults and teenagers involved with the criminal justice system.

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2019 graduates Sam Heller and Jordyn McCarley named Gideon’s Promise Fellows

May. 9, 2019—Heller will join the Hamilton County Public Defender’s office in Cincinnati, Ohio. McCarley will join the Nashville Public Defenders.

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Megan Mitchell ’19 wins Regional Public Interest Award from Equal Justice Works

May. 8, 2019—Mitchell is the winner for the South Region of the Equal Justice Works competition.

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Annie Cappetta and Eileen Bautista Fay named Class of 2021 Garrison Social Justice Scholars

Apr. 29, 2019—Fay will spend this summer working at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence; Cappetta will work at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for digital privacy and free speech, and South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center

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Mitchell Galloway ’19 selected for Department of Justice Honors Program

Apr. 24, 2019—Galloway will join the Criminal Enforcement Section of the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice based in Washington, D.C.

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23 students recognized for completing Vanderbilt’s Pro Bono Pledge

Apr. 24, 2019—Students logged a combined 6,908 of pro bono legal work and community service as participants in Vanderbilt’s Pro Bono Pledge program.

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Pro Bono Spring Break student teams support lending reform and property tax appeals in Atlanta

Apr. 18, 2019—Six students worked at Atlanta Legal Aid with Equal Justice Works Fellow Darrius Woods ’17, supporting programs to reform predatory lending practices and provide property tax relief to low-income clients.

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Aisha McWeay ’09, executive director of Still She Rises Tulsa, featured in Essence Q&A

Apr. 9, 2019—McWeay was named executive director of Still She Rises Tulsa, an initiative of the Bronx Defenders that represents mothers in the criminal justice system, in January. Essence magazine published this interview with McWeay March 19.

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Pro Bono Spring Break students advocate for immigrants held in an ICE detention center

Apr. 3, 2019—George Barrett Social Justice Fellow Lynn Stopher ’18 and a team of five VLS students traveled to Ocilla, Georgia, to meet with immigrant detainees to support the work of the Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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2019 Government and Public Interest Day

Jan. 23, 2019—24 government organizations and legal nonprofits come to VLS to discuss public service employment opportunities.

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Public Interest News