Outstanding Law Student of 2000

Jessica Alyson Smith, From Exeter, Maine, a 2001 graduate of the Vermont Law School in South Royalton, has been named the National Outstanding Law Student of 2000 by the editors of Who’s Who: American Law Students.

The Outstanding Law Student is chosen from candidates nominated by either the law school or by a student legal organization at law schools across the country. Selection criteria include achievement in the study of law, service to the law school community, volunteer service to the larger community, and/or pursuit of a law career in spite of prohibiting factors.

This recognition includes a cash scholarship plus dedication of the 20th edition of Who’s Who: American Law Students which will be published in May, 2001.

In his nominating letter, L. Kinvin Wroth, Dean and Professor of Law at the Vermont Law School describes Jessica as “an exceptional individual who serves as a model of community service and commitment in both her academic and extracurricular endeavors.”

Ms Smith was selected for this honor because of her various activities on behalf of abused and underprivileged women in four different states. Smith’s interest in abused women and children stems back to her involvement as children’s service coordinator for the Spruce Run Association in Bangor, Maine where she generated new resources for affected individuals and families. She brought these concerns to the Vermont Law School where she founded and was an active co-chair of the Domestic Violence Committee. In this capacity, Jessica worked with the Vermont State Police, the Orange County State Attorney Office and other social organizations to spread awareness of the problems facing individuals and families involved in domestic violence. In addition, Smith volunteered on weekends at Safeline, a 24 hour hotline that provides confidential information to native violence and sexual assault victims in more than 25 towns in the rural area surrounding South Royalton.

In 1999, as NAPIL/VISTA Summer Legal Fellow in Virginia, Smith was instrumental in increasing legal representation for victims of domestic violence in that state as well.

As a recipient of an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, whose purpose is to assist those with health needs not met by the health care system, Ms Smith created a highly successful mentoring program for pregnant and rearing young women and their children at Hannah House of Lebanon, NH. In addition to pairing the young women with older volunteer role models and advisors, Smith served as a mentor and an advocate on issues relating to pregnant and parenting teens as well as a counselor on financial, career and educational issues. This project caught the attention of the local media and receive widespread local coverage.

Since 1999, Smith has also served as Northeast Regional Coordination for the National Association of Public Interest Law (NAPIL). This position involves a multitude of responsibilities including the promotion of public interest law throughout an eight-state region with more than 30 law school.

Ms Smith is the second student from Vermont Law School to receive this honor. Wynona I. Ward, a native of rural Vermont, was named Outstanding Law Student of 1998 because of her efforts to initiate an in-home legal consultation service called, “Have Justice – Will Travel,” which delivered legal services to poor and under-represented rural Vermont women unable to seek legal advice on their own.

Because of the number of excellent candidates who applied for this honor this year, for the first time, Who’s Who: Law Students has chosen to recognize a second-place winner: Daniel Moreno, Jr., a December 2000 graduate of Thomas Jefferson Law School, San Diego, California.

Besides Wynona I. Ward, previously recognized law students since the Outstanding Law Student scholarship program was initiated in 1992 are: Michael Joseph Ryan, Case Western Reserve University School of Law (1992), Susan Fox, Univ. of Buffalo School of Law (1993), Thomas L. Wesner, New England School of Law (1994), Rachael E. Spaline, Northeastern Univ. School of Law (1995), Susan M. Rodgers, Univ. of Baltimore School of Law (1996), Scott E. Sullivan, Univ. of Connecticut School of Law, 1997, and Marlynn R. Jones, Univ. of Miami School of Law (1999).