Widener Law student recognized for public interest work
Public Relations - Published: December 14, 2012
Widener Law congratulates student Jennifer Perez, who was recently honored by the Philadelphia Bar Association for her pro bono service while in law school.

Perez received a 2012 Law Student Outstanding Service Award at a reception hosted by the bar association and its Public Interest Section at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel on Nov. 28. Awards were given to one student from each of six regional law schools, who were recognized for exhibiting dedication to public interest while in law school.

Perez, 26, grew up in Camden, N.J. and resides in Williamstown, N.J. She will complete her law studies and officially graduate this month. She will take the Pennsylvania bar exam in February and plans to walk in Widener Law’s May 2013 commencement ceremony.

Perez spent her first law school summer, in 2010, working as Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network’s Martin Luther King Jr. intern at the Community Justice Project in Harrisburg. The following summer she obtained a fellowship through the law school’s Public Interest Resource Center (PIRC) and worked for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. This past summer she worked on pro bono and reduced-rate employment law cases at a private law firm in Wilmington, Del. through a fellowship also obtained via PIRC.

During her spring 2012 and fall 2012 semesters – her final two in law school – Perez did an externship with the Delaware Community Legal Aid Society assisting with disability law cases benefiting adults and children, and immigration cases on behalf of victims of violence.

“The only reason I went to law school was to help people,” Perez said.

She first thought of the law after an acquaintance – who grew to be a dear friend – told her that she wanted to study law to help people like her father, who had been persecuted by a Chilean dictator years ago. Until that conversation, Perez said she had never thought of lawyers beyond everyday criminal and civil cases.

“I had never looked at lawyers as a vehicle for social change,” she said. “That was my beginning inspiration.”

Assistant Professor of Legal Methods Sydney Howe-Barksdale, who directs Widener’s PIRC program, nominated Perez for the honor.

“She is a dedicated, caring and thorough professional who has never wavered in the support of the people she has helped. Jennifer has shown a significant commitment to social justice throughout her three years at Widener Law and embodies the true spirit of pro bono service,” Howe-Barksdale said. “We congratulate her on this well-deserved honor.”

Perez said she would like to thank her parents, Rosa and Francisco, for always supporting her career endeavors.