2022 Alumni Award Winners
The Honorable J. Michelle Childs '16
Established in 1985, the Charles S. Murphy Award honors a graduate's commitment to the common good through his or her service to the community or dedication to education.
The Honorable J. Michelle Childs was appointed to the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina in August 2010. On December 23, 2021, President Biden nominated Judge Childs to United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Judge Childs holds a B.S. in Management from the University of South Florida Honors College, a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law, a Masters in Personnel and Employment Relations from the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, a Masters of Judicial Studies from Duke University School of Law, and an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Public Service from the University of South Carolina.
Prior to serving as a U.S. District Judge, Judge Childs served as a South Carolina At-Large Circuit Court Judge, which included responsibilities as the Chief Administrative Judge for General Sessions and the Business Court for the Fifth Judicial Circuit of Richland and Kershaw Counties. Judge Childs also had the distinct honor of receiving gubernatorial appointments as a Workers’ Compensation Commissioner and the Deputy Director for the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Division of Labor. Judge Childs was formerly a partner with the law firm of Nexsen Pruet, LLP, in Columbia, South Carolina, where she practiced in the areas of employment and labor law and general litigation. Judge Childs is very active with various local, state, and national bar organizations, as well as community organizations. She is the President elect of the Federal Judges Association, the former Chair of the American Bar Association’s Judicial Division, and the former Secretary of the American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section. She also serves as a fellow with the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section and its Committee on the American Judicial System. Judge Childs is also a member of the American Law Institute, having served as an Advisor to the Restatement (Third) of Employment Law. Throughout her career as a practicing lawyer and judge, she has lectured and served frequently on panels regarding litigation and trial techniques, courtroom practices and procedures, e-discovery, expert witnesses, evidence, and various topics for new lawyers.
David F. Levi
The A. Kenneth Pye award honors a graduate or other member of the Duke Law community whose work in education reflects former Dean A. Kenneth Pye’s life and ideals.
David F. Levi is the Levi Family Professor of Law and Judicial Studies and Director of the Bolch Judicial Institute. Levi was previously the James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke Dean of the School of Law. The 14th dean of Duke Law School, he served from 2007 to 2018. Prior to his appointment, he was the Chief United States District Judge for the Eastern District of California with chambers in Sacramento. He was appointed United States Attorney by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 and a United States district judge by President George H. W. Bush in 1990.
A native of Chicago, Levi earned his A.B. in history and literature, magna cum laude, from Harvard College. He entered Harvard's graduate program in history, specializing in English legal history and serving as a teaching fellow in English history and literature. He graduated Order of the Coif in 1980 from Stanford Law School, where he was also president of the Stanford Law Review. Following graduation, he was a law clerk to Judge Ben C. Duniway of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and then to Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr., of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Levi has served as chair of two Judicial Conference committees by appointment of the Chief Justice. He was chair of the Civil Rules Advisory Committee (2000-2003) and chair of the Standing Committee on the Rules of Practice and Procedure (2003-2007); he was reappointed to serve as a member of that committee (2009-2015). He was the first president and a founder of the Milton L. Schwartz American Inn of Court, now the Schwartz-Levi American Inn of Court, at the King Hall School of Law, University of California at Davis. He was chair of the Ninth Circuit Task Force on Race, Religious and Ethnic Fairness and was an author of the report of the Task Force. He was president of the Ninth Circuit District Judges Association (2003-2005).
In 2007, Levi was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. From 2010 to 2013, he served on the board of directors of Equal Justice Works. In 2014, he was appointed chair of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the American Judicial System, and in 2015, he was named co-chair of the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice. He became president of the American Law Institute (ALI) in 2017 after serving as a member of the ALI Council and an advisor to the ALI's Federal Judicial Code Revision and Aggregate Litigation projects.
Levi is the co-author of Federal Trial Objections (James Publishing 2002). At Duke Law, he has taught courses on judicial behavior, ethics, and legal history.
Marc E. Elias '93
The Charles S. Rhyne award was established in 1994 to recognize graduates whose careers exemplify the highest standards of professionalism, personal integrity, and commitment to education or community service.
Marc Elias is a nationally recognized authority in voting rights, redistricting, campaign finance, law and litigation. He is the founder of Democracy Docket, the leading progressive media platform dedicated to voting rights and democracy, and Elias Law Group, a mission-driven firm committed to helping Democrats win, citizens vote, and progressives make change.
Marc has handled hundreds of cases involving politics, voting rights, and redistricting. He has successfully argued and won four cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as dozens of cases in state supreme courts and U.S. courts of appeal. In 2020, Marc led the historic legal effort to protect voting rights, litigating over 160 lawsuits in the face of the pandemic and a national effort by the GOP to make it harder to vote. He successfully fought and defeated Donald Trump and his allies in dozens of post-election lawsuits and in several statewide recounts and contests. As Republicans continue to mount aggressive challenges to voting, Marc continues to fight back in court—and on Twitter— at breakneck speed.
Marc is an alumnus of Duke Law School and a proud owner of a Portuguese Water Dog named Bode.
Sebastián Guerrero '99
The International Alumni Award recognizes and honors an international graduate of the Duke University School of Law who has exemplified the highest standards of professional excellence, personal integrity, and concern for the common welfare in his or her own profession and home country.
Sebastián Guerrero, founder partner at Guerrero Garces and founder and President of “Ganémosle a la Calle”, a non-profit organization which mission is to educate through sports in vulnerable sectors of the society, through various sports workshops. Graduated from the Master in Laws (LL.M) from Duke University (1999). During 2019 and 2020 was Visitor Scholar at Duke University.
Sebastián has provided counseling to domestic and foreign family offices and he is member of various family offices boards, also advising on the resolution of disputes, organization and preparation of structures that allow the development and endurance of families businesses. In recent years he has provided advice on tax public policy, actively participating in the legislative process of the last tax reforms in Chile. He was also a member of the Transversal Technical Commission, convened by the President of the Republic of Chile for the new statute for Foreign Investment in Chile.
Serena Agaba Rwejuna '13
The Law Alumni Association established the Young Alumni Award in 2000 to honor an individual who has graduated within the past 15 years and has made significant leadership and service contributions to Duke Law School and the legal profession.
Serena A. Rwejuna is a Washington, D.C.-based partner who helps lead the Energy Markets & Regulatory practice at White & Case LLP. Serena is also Co-Deputy Head for the North American Region of the Firm’s Global Power Industry Group. Serena supports energy companies and energy industry participants in achieving their business goals by counseling them on compliance with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulations and advising them on project development, mergers and acquisitions, administrative litigation, audits and enforcement matters, and state regulatory compliance. Serena has experience with a variety of clean energy technologies, including solar, wind, hydro and waste-to-energy. Serena holds numerous leadership roles within the Energy Bar Association (EBA), the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), and the American Bar Association (ABA). Serena is regularly invited to speak on issues related to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and Sustainability, Energy Transition, Enforcement and Compliance, and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Advancement (DEIA).
A native of Fayetteville, NC, Serena received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology (cum laude) from Wake Forest University, where she was a Joseph Gordon Scholar, as well as her Masters of Arts degree in Management from the Wake Forest University School of Business. Serena received a graduate certificate from the Program for Women in Politics and Public Policy from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and her J.D. from Duke University School of Law. Serena has received several legal accolades including Chambers USA: Nationwide Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation): Associate to Watch (2021); The Legal 500 USA, Rising Star – Energy Regulation: Conventional Energy (2021); Thomson Reuters, Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers, Rising Star (2017-2022); The National Black Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 (2020-2022); and The Best Lawyers In America: Ones to Watch (2021, 2022). Serena was a 2021 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) Fellow and serves as her LCLD Fellows Class Liaison.
Serena is an inaugural member of the Duke Law Alumnae Leadership Council and serves as Co-Chair for the DukeDC Regional Board of Directors. Additionally, Serena serves the Washington, D.C. community by serving as President of the Calvary Women's Services Board of Directors. Calvary is a non-profit organization, which provides permanent, transitional, and rapid housing, health, education and employment programs that empower women to overcome their homelessness and regain their financial independence. More than 98% of the women Calvary serves are women of color, primarily African American women. Calvary is an award-winning, leading provider of housing and wraparound support services for women victims of domestic violence experiencing homelessness. Serena is a member of the Rho Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in Washington, D.C.
Lila Hope '02
This award honors individuals for their excellent volunteer service to Duke Law School. In their roles as volunteers, these individuals have distinguished themselves through their exceptional dedication and sustained commitment to the Duke Law community.
Lila focuses on the representation of life sciences companies discovering, developing and marketing pharmaceutical, vaccine, medical device, diagnostic and digital health products. Lila specializes in transactions involving complex intellectual property, business, operational and legal issues, including strategic partnerships and platform discovery deals. In addition, she counsels clients' management, operational and legal teams on day-to-day matters involving licensing, supply, distribution, clinical trials, research collaborations and vendor services. She is also regularly involved in the evaluation of a company's product rights and operational risks in connection with financing, public offering and M&A transactions, while maintaining an active practice in cross-border licensing transactions.
Lila graduated with a JD magna cum laude in 2002 from Duke University School of Law, where she was elected to Order of the Coif and awarded the "Class of 1968 Scholarship." She earned her PhD in Cancer Biology from Stanford University School of Medicine in 1999, characterizing a novel tumor susceptibility gene as a Stanford Markey Predoctoral Fellow. She has been heavily involved with both Duke Law and Stanford Medicine over the past decade, having served as the past President and a past board member of both the Duke Law Alumni Association and the Stanford Medicine Alumni Association. She currently serves as a member of the Duke Law Board of Visitors.
Lila is recognized by Chambers USA in the category Life Sciences: Corporate/Commercial – California, in their 2020 and 2021 editions. She has been recognized by Legal 500 as a key lawyer in the Healthcare: Life Sciences category. Lila has two daughters – both of them were born while she was at Duke Law and are now in college. She lives in Palo Alto with her cat Oliver.