On September 11, 2012, the Association for Women Lawyers (AWL) honored Professor Michele LaVigne with the Pro Bono Service award and alumna Jennifer Van Kirk '02 with the Community Involvement Award.
LaVigne, Clinical Professor and Director of the Public Defender Project, was recognized for her commitment to improving the quality of justice for deaf and hard of hearing individuals. LaVigne developed a mock trial program at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf in Delavan, Wis. This joint program involved the Wisconsin School for the Deaf, the University of Wisconsin Law School and law firm Heller Ehrman White & Auliffe. In 2004, the team competed in the State Bar High School Mock Trial competition for the first time and placed sixth in the state semi-finals. LaVigne's research explores communicative, behavioral and legal implications of language impairments among populations frequently found in juvenile and criminal justice systems.
"Michele's unwavering focus on ensuring representation for the indigent community and her work for the deaf is inspiring. She is a wonderful example of how to give more to your community," says Dean Margaret Raymond.
Van Kirk was honored for her longstanding commitment to serving her community, and in particular, her dedication to serving the Armed Forces of the U.S. National Guard. For years, Van Kirk has offered free legal assistance to service members, veterans and their families. In 2011, Van Kirk was one of five national recipients of the Patrick Henry Award, the civilian counterpart to the National Guard's Distinguished Service Medal. For Van Kirk, community service isn’t something new. As a student at UW Law School, she participated in the Consumer Law Litigation Clinic to provide free legal services to low-income clients in areas of misrepresentation and fraud.
"Jennifer’s leadership, compassion and professionalism, in her service to her community and country, has distinguished her through her academic and professional career. I believe her volunteerism embodies the spirit of the Association for Women Lawyer's award for community service," says Dean Raymond.
Submitted by Law School News on October 18, 2012