For this edition of Texas Law’s Student Spotlight series, meet 2L John C. Ruff, Pro Bono Scholar and Staff Editor of The American Journal of Criminal Law and The Review of Litigation!

Q: Won’t you tell us about some of your activities at the law school?

I’m a Pro Bono Scholar with the Mithoff Pro Bono Program. I help plan, organize, and implement the Special Education Casework and Medicaid pro bono projects. Helping families secure the benefits they and their children are entitled to is really important and meaningful work.

My role is to handle the logistics, putting my fellow Texas Law students, who volunteer for the projects, in the best position to help our clients. To that end, this position has really helped me maintain a feeling of connection to both the Texas Law community and our broader community during the pandemic. It’s been a unique opportunity to further engage in UT Law’s pro bono programs while continuing to develop my leadership skills within a legal context. I’ve been able to delve further into special education and disability rights issues while sharing this interest with fellow students.

My family has a personal connection to this area of the law—so I immediately gravitated towards it as a 1L and knew I wanted to get more involved as a 2L. Doctrinal classes, no matter how interesting, can sometimes leave me feeling disassociated from people and the practice of law. So pro bono work is not only a professional and moral obligation, it’s a nice escape from the library (or the bedroom that’s now an office, thanks to the pandemic). It’s kept me grounded, serving as a reminder of why I came to law school in the first place—to work with people and help them right a wrong. I am also a staff editor for both The American Journal of Criminal Law and The Review of Litigation.

Q: What made you choose Texas for your legal education?

Law school can be a stressful and competitive environment. If you’re going down this path, why not do it in Austin!? In all seriousness, when I visited I was struck by the culture and people that make up Texas Law. I knew it was where I wanted to be. When you combine that with the opportunities available to our graduates and the cost of attendance—I don’t think any other law school comes close.

Q: How do you envision your life after Texas Law?

I plan on pursuing a judicial clerkship immediately after law school and then entering private practice in white-collar defense, investigations, and compliance. Later in my career, I hope to work in government and public policy. I want to be a lawyer because it opens up exciting possibilities to serve and have a positive impact on society.