Graduating Law Students Receive University Co-op Public Interest Awards

Six graduating students at The University of Texas School of Law have been awarded University Co-op Public Interest Awards in honor of their extraordinary commitment to public service.

The award recipients were selected by Interim Dean Steven Goode and will be presented on Wed., May 17, at a banquet celebrating the University Co-op Awards for Excellence in Graduate Education.

Each student received a $5,000 award made possible by a grant from the University Co-op, and administered by the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law at the Law School.

“We are delighted to honor these outstanding graduating students. They are dedicated to the highest callings of our profession—serving the public and increasing access to justice for underserved individuals and communities,” said Eden Harrington, Director of the Justice Center.

The following graduating students received University Co-op Public Interest Awards:

Matthew Bachop interned with SafePlace, a shelter for victims of domestic violence, after his first year and continues to teach classes about the dynamics of family violence. He has also worked for the Consumer Protection Division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s housing group. Bachop participates in the Law School’s Housing Clinic, serves as a notes editor for the Texas Law Review, and works for TRLA’s Telephone Access to Justice Project.

Fabiola Flores represented victims of domestic violence at the Community Legal Services and Counseling Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and interned with the D.C. Employment Center in Washington, DC. She works for the Equal Justice Center as a Baron & Budd Fellow. She has participated in the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic and the Immigration Clinic. Flores has been an officer of the Law School’s Public Interest Law Association since 2004. Following graduation, Flores will work for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in Laredo.

Cara Garcia has worked for The Women’s Advocacy Project and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s housing group and Telephone Access to Justice Project. Last summer she worked for the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence as one of the first University Co-op Public Interest Summer Fellows. At the Law School, Garcia has participated in the Domestic Violence Clinic and has been a board member of Texas Law Fellowships. She has also been involved in the Survivors Support Network, the Public Interest Law Association, and Street Law.

Kelly Gier worked for the Texas Defender Service, a non-profit law firm representing death row inmates, after her first year and again as an intern during the academic year. She has also participated in the Law School’s Capital Punishment Clinic. Following her second year, Gier worked for the ACLU in Chicago as a Public Interest Law Initiative Fellow. She participates in the Juvenile Justice Clinic and is involved in Street Law. She has volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in foster care in Travis County since 2001.

Patricia López has worked for the Texas Civil Rights Project, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s Telephone Access to Justice Project, and the El Paso County Attorney, and interned for Senator Eliot Shapleigh. At the Law School she participated in the Children’s Rights Clinic, the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic, and the Housing Clinic and has served on the board of the Public Interest Law Association.

Cynthia Tom will graduate from both the Law School and the LBJ School of Public Affairs this May. She has worked for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Office of the General Counsel, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Civil Rights Office. At the Law School she has participated in the Environmental Law Clinic and has been involved in the Public Interest Law Association and the Environmental Law Society.