February 23, 2006

Cornell Law Grads Win Public Service Awards in NYC

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Six Cornell Law School graduates were honored for their public service efforts at the first annual Exemplary Public Service Awards. The event took place on Feb. 9 in New York City at The Cornell Club.

The awards celebration was sponsored by Cornell Law School. The awards were presented to the following Law School graduates: Helaine Knickerbocker law ’51, Paul W. Lee law ’76, Angelica Matos law ’99, Elizabeth Padilla law ’02, Martha A. Roberts law ’82 and Michael Wright law ’94. Padilla’s award was presented posthumously.

“The event was an important way for graduates and current students of similar interests to get together,” said Karen Comstock, assistant dean for public service at the Law School and the primary organizer of the celebration. “The event provides an opportunity for building and showcasing the public interest program at the Cornell Law School.”

Comstock explained that the event provided a way to illustrate to alumni that there are many law students who are interested in public service. The event was also a source of inspiration for current law students who observed the success of alumni within the field of law and in the context of public service.

The celebration aimed to “recognize alumni who contribute to the public good through their work with public interest organizations, government agencies and law-firm pro bono projects,” according to a Cornell news release.

Approximately 100 guests attended the event where plaques were presented to the recipients. Both the recipients of the awards and those who nominated them gave speeches.

A committee chose the final six recipients of the award out of the 50 nominations that were received by the Law School, according to Comstock. The winners were nominated by their fellow graduates who believed these individuals were deserving of the award due to their commitment to public service.

The legal careers of all of the award recipients share the element of public service, which is evident in their defense of clients who are victims of poverty, abuse, neglect and racial discrimination. Many of the recipients also participate in organizations that support and protect the public interests of the communities in which they live.

“Presenting annual Exemplary Public Service awards gives these Cornellians the recognition they deserve and demonstrates in a very meaningful way that the Law School has a strong and ongoing commitment to public interest law,” said Prof. Stewart J. Schwab, the Allan R. Tessler Dean of the Law School.

In addition to these six graduates, the event also honored eight current law students with three distinguished awards. Even though these honors are usually conferred at graduation, this year they were presented a semester early in conjunction with the alumni awards. Many law students were in New York City at the time of the event for a public interest job fair hosted by NYU Law School, providing a good opportunity to honor current law students in addition to alumni.

The Freeman Award for Civil-Human Rights is awarded each year to students who are committed to the protection of civil-human rights. This year’s recipients were: Namita Gupta law ’06, Sharon Linzey law ’06 and Ralph Mamiya law ’06.

Elizabeth Hogan law ’06, Noah Mamber law ’06 and Lei Young law ’06 received the Stanley E. Gould Prize for Public Interest Law. This award is presented to third-year students who are dedicated not only to law but also to public interest groups.

The Seymour Herzog Memorial Prize is given to students who contribute to public interest law and also love sports. Jesse Dubow law ’06 and Matthew Walker law ’06 were the recipients of this award.

Archived article by Jamie Leonard
Sun Staff Writer