Vanderbilt Law Graduate Recognized for Pro Bono Work - Articles

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Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Feb 9, 2011

Award presented to 'Student Volunteer of the Year' at luncheon

NASHVILLE, Feb. 9, 2011 — Jody Shaw, a 2010 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School, was honored with the state's top award for law student pro bono work at the Tennessee Bar Association's recent public service luncheon. Held each year in Nashville, the luncheon featured award winners in several categories and a keynote address by American Bar Association President-elect William Robinson of Cincinnati.

Shaw, who currently is clerking for Judge Samuel H. "Hardy" Mays Jr. on the U.S. District Court in Memphis, received the TBA's 2010 Law Student Volunteer of the Year Award for his volunteer work with Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON). Housed at Nashville's Belmont United Methodist Church, JFON is a not-for-profit organization that provides free immigration legal services to low-income individuals. Shaw volunteered with the organization throughout his law school career and was a regular at the monthly intake clinics. During his last year, though, he took on an especially significant amount of work and responsibility, including assuming a leadership role in two legal clinics: one that helped domestic violence victims and one that assisted low-wage earners who were victims of crime in the workplace. Shaw also took on a number of difficult cases including helping four adults and six children achieve lawful, permanent resident status in this country.

Shaw was nominated for the award by JFON Director Katherine Dix Esquivel, who stressed that the organization would not have been able to serve so many clients without his help. "Jody has a really wonderful manner of relating to clients who are extremely vulnerable and marginalized. He is hard working, responsible, attentive and careful with every detail...We were able to handle more cases this past year because he did so much work for us." For his part, Shaw, says his interest in immigration law harkens back to his experiences as a teen working alongside immigrants in his father's restaurant. Now that he is in a position to help, Shaw says he is even more impressed with the courage of those who have lost so much but remain hopeful for a better future for themselves and their children.

The law student award is given annually to a Tennessee law school student who performs outstanding volunteer service working with an organization that provides legal representation to the poor.