USD Law's Legal Clinics Honor Outstanding Students; Thorsnes Prizes Announced

The USD School of Law recognized standout students from its legal clinics.The USD School of Law's Legal Clinics serve as an excellent opportunity for students to get hands on training and experience. The 2019-20 standout students were recognized on Friday.

The University of San Diego’s School of Law should be preparing for its 63rd commencement ceremony. Prior to Spring 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic, it was scheduled for Saturday morning, May 16, inside the Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Instead, the newest cohort of USD law graduates who’ve completed a juris doctorate (JD), master of laws (LLM) or master of science in legal studies (MSLS) have now completed their final exams, still celebrating — at home — and thinking about the bar exam that as of now has been pushed back to September.

On Friday, however, the mood amongst many in the USD School of Law was one of many smiles, deep appreciation and major recognition of excellence for law students who were rewarded for their outstanding work for one of the school’s many legal law clinics.

“There are two sides to the clinic programs,” School of Law Dean Stephen C. Ferruolo said during the Zoom conference call Friday. “First is the training. Our students receive great training from our faculty and they gain experience in serving our clients. On the other side, the service that our clinics and the student provide to the community … nobody does it better.”

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a major pivot for the clinics, which typically thrive on in-person work, but Ferruolo, Vice Dean and Professor Margaret Dalton, Legal Clinics Academic Director Robert Muth and many others cited examples of their students’ dedication. They worked around obstacles and overcame challenges — even some adapting to changes in laws that went into effect in early in 2020 — to provide outstanding service to their clients.

“Resilience” is a word that was heard commonly during the call, from Ferruolo and Dalton to Muth and the respective faculty presenters as they praised students who juggled multiple commitments and new challenges due to the pivot from classroom to remote learning mid-semester, yet still made their clinic’s clients a priority.

Here are the 2019-20 USD Legal Clinic Graduation Awards:

Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic

Student Award Recipient: Jacob Borton.

Presenter/Clinic Faculty: Professor Sebastian Lucier.

Appellate Legal Clinic

Student Award Recipient: Aude Ruffing.

Presenter/Clinic Faculty: Professor Mike Devitt, Professor Candice Carroll and Professor David Schlesinger.

Civil Legal Clinic

Student Award Recipients: Lauren Adjieff and Reed Carroll.

Presenter/Clinic Faculty: Professor Allen Gruber, Professor Allen Snyder and Professor Joe Villaseñor.

Education and Disability Legal Clinic

Student Award Recipient: Monet McCord.

Presenter/Clinic Faculty: Margaret Adams.

Federal Tax Legal Clinic

Student Award Recipient: Peter Nelson.

Presenter/Clinic Faculty: Professor Richard Carpenter.

Immigration Legal Clinic

Student Award Recipient: Jessica Bade.

Presenter/Clinic Faculty: Professor Sandra Wagner.

State Income Tax Legal Clinic

Student Award Recipient: Christopher Engelmann.

Presenter/Clinic Faculty: Professor Craig Shaltes.

State Sales and Use Tax Legal Clinic

Student Award Recipient: Jessica Gronna.

Presenter/Clinic Faculty: Professor Michael Larkin.

Veterans Legal Clinic

Student Award Recipient: Alexandra Wallin.

Presenter/Clinic Faculty: Professor Robert Muth.

Women’s Legal Clinic (new as of Spring 2020)

Student Award Recipient: Samantha Steed.

Presenter/Clinic Faculty: Professor Meredith Levin and Professor/Vice Dean Margaret Dalton.

Workers’ Rights Legal Clinic

Student Award Recipient: Rosemary Khoury.

Presenter/Clinic Faculty: Professor Mike Gaitley.

School of Law 2019-20 Thorsnes Prizes Awarded to Faculty

Typically, the announcement of the annual Thorsnes Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship and for Excellence in Teaching, has been done during the law commencement ceremony. It’s a prime opportunity to highlight top USD law school faculty members for their contributions.

Despite not having an in-person commencement, the School of Law has awarded the 2019-20 Thorsnes Prizes.

Thorsnes Prize for Excellence in Teaching: Mary Jo Wiggins, JD, Professor of Law

Thorsnes Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship: Dov Fox, JD, LLM, Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Health Law Policy and Bioethics.

— Compiled by Ryan T. Blystone


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