SWLAW Blog | Awards & Honors

Image - 2021 Public Service Program Graduating Student Awards

April 23, 2021

2021 Public Service Program Graduating Student Awards

On Thursday, April 15th, 2021, our Public Interest Law Faculty Committee celebrated and honored our graduating students in a virtual Public Service Program Awards Luncheon. 

Special recognition was given to a few outstanding students for their demonstrated and significant dedication to public interest law activities while at Southwestern. 

We are proud to recognize and celebrate this year’s Public Service Program Graduating Student Award recipients:

The Southwestern Public Interest Law Service Award

Image - Brittany Butler2021 Recipient: Brittany Butler

Brittany Butler has been committed to becoming a Public Defender before coming to Southwestern. Once at Southwestern, she continued on her path to becoming a Public Defender by working for the Loyola Project for the Innocent and the Los Angeles County Public Defender. Brittany participated in the Street Law Clinic and was the Co-President of the Mass Incarceration Awareness Law Society. 

She is excited to continue her journey to becoming a Public Defender by working for the Orange County Public Defender for her Post-Bar position. She is very grateful to receive the Southwestern Public Interest Law Service Award so she can continue to use her legal education to help those who need it most. 

We asked Brittany...

What is the most satisfying aspect of public service for you?

The most satisfying aspect of public service for me is client interaction. I came to law school knowing I wanted to be a Public Defender because I had the opportunity to work for the Orange County Public Defender in college where I would conduct client interviews. It was through these interviews that I was inspired to use my law degree to help those who need it most. To hear clients tell their stories and be one of the only people who listen to them and be able to help them is a very gratifying experience.

Image - Brendan Nafarrate2021 Recipient: Brendan Nafarrate

Brendan was raised by grandparents from Mexico and Guatemala, whose struggles inspired him to pursue a career empowering immigrants.

While at Southwestern, he focused his studies and experiences exclusively on understanding all facets of law impacting noncitizens, including criminal convictions, asylum, DACA, and employment discrimination.  

He hopes to use the perseverance and strength instilled in him by his family to advocate for immigrants’ rights as a future attorney.  Following graduation, he will continue expanding his knowledge of immigration law as a Judicial Law Clerk to the Executive Office of Immigration Review.  

We asked Brendan...

What have been some of your favorite highlights of your service involvement during law school? 

Two of my favorite service moments were providing asylees with credible fear interview preparations in Tijuana, Mexico and clerking in the Community Lawyering Clinic.  My time in Tijuana allowed me to see first-hand the larger systemic issues impacting immigrants and gain a deeper empathy to better serve clients.  In the Community Lawyering Clinic, I confidently defended a client’s matter and was overwhelmed with emotion by her gratitude.  Both experiences were strong reminders of why I came to law school, to serve others.

Image - Haley Pollock2021 Recipient: Haley Pollock

Haley Pollock is a first-generation college graduate, first-generation law school graduate, and a non-traditional student. Haley came to law school singularly focused on serving populations that are typically and historically excluded from accessing professional legal services.  

After graduation, Haley will join Inner City Law Center’s Tenant Defense Project as a Housing Justice Fellow, where she will fight to preserve safe and decent housing for low-income tenants threatened or in imminent danger of homelessness due to eviction.

We asked Haley...

What words of advice would you have for future Southwestern students? 

My advice to future students interested in pursuing a public interest career is to get involved in the legal clinics at school and volunteer whenever you can.  Also, early on, find like-minded students who you can lean on for support when law school gets overwhelming.

Image - Nicole Rossi-Standley2021 Recipient: Nicole Rossi-Standley

Nicole Rossi-Standley is a SCALE student who has had an incredible experience at Southwestern Law School, serving as the Chair of the Board for the Trial Advocacy Honors Program, on Law Review, as a Dean's Fellow, Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, and, notably, a PSP Student Leader.

As a first-generation law student, the Public Service Program has enabled her to help host the Small Claims Court Clinic for litigants, work with applicants through LAFLA's Expungement Clinic, write letters responding to individuals who are incarcerated through the MIALS Mail Nights, and work with high school students as a board member for Teen Court, a juvenile diversion program. She has always enjoyed volunteering and is grateful that there are so many opportunities to put the privilege of her law school education to work by using her legal knowledge to help others.

We asked Nicole...

What is the most satisfying aspect of public service for you?

My time at Southwestern has shown me the difference volunteering can make in someone’s life. Before law school, I knew what it felt like to be powerless when faced with legal issues, and how frustrating and debilitating it is not to understand the best course of action, nor what the possible outcomes are. For me, the most satisfying aspect of public service is being able to use my legal education to empower others.

Image - Katherine Vazquez2021 Recipient: Katherine Vazquez

Katherine Vazquez is a Dean’s Fellow, the senior articles editor for the Southwestern Journal of International Law, and a contributing editor for the ABA’s Litigation News. Katherine is also the Co-President of the Christian Legal Society and a law clerk for an immigration firm.

She has recently accepted a post-bar position with the Office of Legislative Counsel in Sacramento, CA.

We asked Katherine...

What have been some of your favorite highlights of your service involvement during law school? 

The highlight of my public service involvement during law school was the weekend trip to Tijuana, Mexico during my 1L year. Not only did I help (even if just a tiny fraction) asylum petitioners during a very difficult time of their lives, but I also made long lasting friendships with the other students. To this day, we still keep in touch.

Image - Megan Willis2021 Recipient: Megan Willis

Megan is a first generation college graduate who came to law school with the dream of becoming a Deputy District Attorney. Her ultimate career goal is to prosecute crimes against children.

After taking the Bar Examination in July, Megan will begin her career as a prosecutor with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

We asked Megan...

What words of advice would you have for future Southwestern students? 

Don't wait, take advantage of everything Southwestern can offer you NOW. Before you know it you will be graduating and will always wish you did more. There are so many people you can help and so many opportunities waiting for you - go be that difference in someone's life. And do it as much as you can. You will not regret it.

Congratulations to all six exceptional students! Your dedication to public service and public interest law is genuinely inspiring. We are excited to see what you all will accomplish in your public interest law careers!