Monday, May 20, 2024

2024 CLEA Awards for Outstanding Clinical and Externship Students: Pepperdine Caruso's Macy Merritt, Max Lyster, and Abigail Glavin

Each year, the Clinical Legal Education Association invites law schools to nominate students as their Outstanding Clinic Student or Team and Outstanding Externship student. This series includes submissions from law schools celebrating their outstanding students. 

From Pepperdine Caruso School of Law: 

Outstanding Clinic Student or Team: Macy Merritt and Max Lyster

Pepperdine Caruso Law third-year students Macy Merritt and Maxwell Lyster, participants in Pepperdine’s Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy Clinic, successfully represented Dewitt Lamar Long in a civil rights case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Long is a plaintiff in a lawsuit alleging that Hawaii prison officials violated his constitutional rights when they failed to accommodate his requests for non-pork meals in accordance with his Muslim faith. His lawsuit also alleges that prison officials retaliated against him when he complained about the failure to provide him with non-pork meals. The district court dismissed some of his claims before trial, then conducted a bench trial in which the court ruled against him on his remaining claims.

Long, who represented himself at trial, appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which appointed the Pepperdine Caruso Law Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy clinic to represent him on appeal. The appeal challenged both the district court’s pretrial rulings and the district court’s factual findings at trial. The appeal was particularly challenging because it raised issues that are subject to three different standards of review. Lyster and Merritt filed an opening brief and a reply brief on Long’s behalf and then participated in oral argument before a three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit’s courthouse in Pasadena. The judges asked several questions of both students during oral argument and commended them for their excellent briefing and argument. After the argument, the court issued a published opinion ruling in Long’s favor and finding that some of his claims were improperly dismissed.

Outstanding Externship Student: Abigail Glavin 

After receiving a well deserved high pass in the Fall 2023 as a student in the Faith and Family Mediation Clinic, Abigail Glavin felt so committed to her work helping those in need and to the clients whom she serviced during the semester that she asked to stay on to work as an extern. During the course of the Spring 2024 semester, Abby far surpassed my expectations. Not only did she stay on to assist in ongoing mediations, but she also took on a leadership role and brought 3 outstanding mediations to complete conclusions on her own. The clients whom she assisted expressed directly to me their appreciation of her professionalism, creativity, empathy and work ethic.

Abby also served as a mentor and advisor to the students currently enrolled in my Spring seminar and clinic and helped them navigate in a way that minimized the startup costs embedded in clinical work — thereby helping the students, me and my clients. Abby’s work in the areas of direct client communication, active listening, empathy, patience with clients and with her peers, and finding creative solutions in the context of dispute resolution were all exemplary.

In addition, during the course of her work was an extern, Abby was always visibly striving towards the highest ethical standards; she would often vocalize, inquire and workshop ethical questions that arose in her externship with me, but in other legal professional contexts where she worked as well.

Abby is determined to grow her legal skills in all ways open to her. She is able to absorb and operationalize constructive criticism in a way that distinguishes her from her peers whom I have taught and/or supervised before.

Abby showed a remarkable interest in and commitment to self-reflection. In particular, she exemplified a readiness to explore, analyze and understand how at any given moment, her own personal experiences or biases may be affecting her work as a family law mediator.

Abby’s organizational skills and timeliness were also noteworthy as was her dedication to the clinical program at large. Abby took enormous initiative and developed several output projects - all of which she delivered on - that will benefit students who come after her in my clinic.

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