Public Interest Recognition Reception Unites Attorneys and Law Students


A who's who of the Miami Law public interest world gathered in the Alma Jennings Foundation Student Lounge on April 7th to honor those who have excelled in public service throughout the South Florida community and beyond.

Hosted by Miami Law's HOPE Public Interest Resource Center, the annual reception gives students the opportunity to mingle with attorneys, faculty, and alumni.

Associate Dean Patrick Gudridge made the opening remarks, highlighting Miami Law's strong pro bono ethic and the remarkable student participation in community and public service activities.

Dean Marni Lennon, HOPE director and Assistant Dean for Public Interest and Pro Bono, presented the HOPE Commitment and HOPE Pro Bono Challenge awards to a student in each class who completed the most community service and pro bono hours, respectively.

The recipients of the HOPE Commitment community service awards were 1L Erin Lewis, 2L Erik Neff, and 3L Rob Collins. The recipients of the HOPE Pro Bono Challenge awards were Elsie Morales, 1L, Austin Harris, 2L, and 3L Rob Collins.

Third-year student Ana Hernandez received the prestigious Exemplary Service to the Poor award for her commitment to legal advocacy in the Health and Elder Law Clinic. Clinic director Suzanna Villano enthusiastically presented the award to Hernandez, highlighting her determined spirit and zealous advocacy on behalf of marginalized populations.

2L Sarah Bradfield presented the Outstanding Community Partner award to Miami Law alumna Sarah Wood-Borak for her work as Miami Law's first-ever Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow with the Office of the Public Defender of Miami-Dade County.

Lastly, Dean Lennon herself was honored by the HOPE team for her work to increase public interest and pro bono resources for Miami law students and faculty, coupled with her usual supportive demeanor and guidance.

The presentation of awards alongside notable attorneys, faculty, and alumni provided many students with the inspiration they needed to confidently prepare for their public interest summer internships.

"The reception provided us all with an opportunity to learn about and celebrate the work that UM students are doing," 2011 HOPE Fellow Rashanda McCollum said following the reception. "Miami Law has an amazing reputation for its public interest work and pro bono advocacy and I'm proud to be a part of such a community. It inspires me to continue on in this effort. I hope to bring that inspiration with me to my internship at Kristi House in Miami this summer!"