3L Gabriela Valentín Díaz Receives Prestigious Bertha Justice Fellowship to Work at Earthrights

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Gabriela Valentin-Diaz

Gabriela Valentín Díaz

Third-year law student and Human Rights Clinic fellow, Gabriela Valentín Díaz, was recently selected to receive a prestigious Bertha Justice Fellowship, which helps train the next generation of social justice lawyers to work at Earthrights International. Founded 25 years ago, Earthrights uses the power of law to defend human rights and the environment throughout the world.

The two-year fellowship, set to begin after Valentín Díaz graduates in May, will allow her to work in various areas including advocacy, corporate accountability, climate justice, and Indigenous peoples’ rights. During law school, Valentín Díaz took advantage of Miami Law's strengths in human rights law and social justice and public interest law.

“I can’t believe that I have been offered the opportunity to work at EarthRights after graduation. I feel incredibly lucky to be at an organization that so accurately embodies many of my interests,” said Valentín Díaz, who hails from Puerto Rico. “When I received the phone call informing me of my selection, I was actually on another call about a law review editing cycle and had twenty minutes before the start of a panel event for the First-Generation Law Association. I felt this encapsulated my law school experience perfectly; the chances to engage in meaningful work never stop.”

In addition to her work with the Human Rights Clinic at Miami Law, Valentín Díaz is also the co-founder and co-chair of the First-Generation Law Association, which offers support to students who identify as first-generation law students. She is a articles and comments editor for the Inter-American Law Review and was the 2020 recipient of the Grey Quill Award for Outstanding Student Writing. She has been involved with the Hispanic Law Students Association, where she served as vice president in 2020 and liaison to the Hispanic National Bar Association in 2019.

“My favorite experience at Miami Law has been the Human Rights Clinic,” said Valentín Díaz. “Clinical experience is the first opportunity you have as a law student to really experience what it could be like to be a practicing lawyer. I gained some amazing mentors in my clinic professors who have helped me reach my goals and continue to uplift and support me. I have also enjoyed my involvement in student organizations, specifically the Hispanic Law Students Association and the First-Generation Law Association. These organizations have built my networks, trusted me to lead, and made me feel more at home at Miami Law. Involvement in student organizations is something I would recommend to everyone.”

Valentin Diaz, who graduated magna cum laude from the University of Florida as an undergraduate, has worked as advocacy and litigation intern at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights in Washington, D.C., and as an intern at the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office in Miami. She has also served as a research assistant to both Dean Anthony Varona and Associate Dean Raquel Matas.

“As her direct supervisor in the Human Rights Clinic, I’ve had the privilege of watching Gaby grow into the remarkable human rights advocate she is today,” said Denisse Cordova Montes, acting associate director of the Human Rights Clinic. “As a human rights clinic student and fellow, Gaby was instrumental in pioneering work on the right to food in the Americas and related submissions to the UN and the inter-American human rights systems on the rights of rural and Indigenous women. Gaby has already made important contributions to the human rights field, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.”

Valentín Díaz hopes to work as a human rights lawyer for her entire career.

“There are so many pressing issues that would benefit from the human rights outlook on the world that living things, including the environment, have rights just by existing and no person, government, or corporation has the authority to take those away,” said Valentín Díaz. “I will fight to make this outlook the standard for how we think about our role on this planet.”

The Bertha Foundation funds fellowships at public interest law centers around the world and is currently funding over 100 fellowships at 20 organizations spanning 18 countries.

“Gaby has been a shining star in the human rights clinic, and we are so proud that she will serve as an EarthRights Bertha Justice Legal Fellow next year,” said clinic director Carrie Bettinger-Lopez. “This prestigious fellowship suits Gaby perfectly, as it will allow her to connect her sharp legal mind, strategic thinking, and cross-cultural competencies with personal experiences that directly inform her legal advocacy. I can’t wait to see Gaby enter this next phase of her career, and I hope the human rights clinic can collaborate with Gaby and Earthrights in the future.”

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