News

Beth Valentine, '14, receives Law Student Ethics Award

May 6, 2014

PORTLAND, Maine – Elizabeth Valentine, a third year student at the University of Maine School of Law, has won a Law Student Ethics Award from the Northeast Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel.

The award honors outstanding ethics in a clinical program. Valentine earned the award for her work as a student attorney at Maine Law’s Refugee and Human Rights Clinic. In that program, students represent low-income immigrants and refugees who live in Maine and seek political asylum and similar protections under federal law.

Along with award recipients from 10 other law schools in New England, Valentine was honored at a gala dinner on April 15 at the Union Club of Boston. She received a cash award of $1,000. Wayne A Budd, Senior Counsel at Goodwin Procter and former U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, gave the keynote address. The Northeast Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel created the awards program to recognize and encourage the ethical practice of law at the earliest stages of a young lawyer’s professional career, and at the same time to shine a spotlight on ethics more generally.

Here’s what Valentine said about her experience as a student attorney:

“Participation in the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic permitted me to directly represent clients for the first time. I learned that effective lawyering takes more than knowledge of the law, careful research, and persuasive writing. Effective lawyering takes compassion, creativity, and a willingness to reach out to other professionals who can provide additional support to clients.

My partner, Pardis Delijani (2L), and I worked very closely with a young woman to develop her asylum application and also carried forward asylum claims of clients from earlier semesters. Additionally, I represented two women seeking Protection from Abuse orders in district court in Lewiston. Safety and security were the ultimate, although certainly not exclusive, goals of each client. Each Clinic client made the difficult decision to leave his or her home country and everything that was familiar. Each left loved ones behind. And each escaped from a personal horror. While they are now physically safe, the clients I worked with continue to bear heavy psychological burdens. These burdens – feelings of guilt or shame or depression, for instance – can be a barrier to effective legal representation.

For example, if a client cannot talk about past experiences, then his or her lawyer cannot prepare an accurate, compelling asylum application. Thus, helping clients to manage their inner turmoil was a significant part of my clinical experience. Toward that end, I grew to know and develop immense respect for the network of people that support my clients. This network includes Community Counseling, Sweetser Services, Portland High School, and religious leaders. It was a privilege to work with these professionals, along with Professor Anna Welch and my colleagues at the clinic. Together, they reaffirmed my belief in human kindness in the face of stark evidence of man’s inhumanity to man.”

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Media contact: Trevor Maxwell, communications director at Maine Law
Office: 207-228-8037/ Cell: 207-286-4431/ email: trevor.maxwell@maine.edu

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