Justin Miller Awards Honor Graduates' Contributions

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Four graduating students were honored with Justin Miller awards at the Duke Law Graduation Gala May 12. Named for Dean Justin Miller, who served as dean from 1930-34, the awards honor significant contributions by third year students to their classmates and to the Duke Law community.

The Justin Miller Awards for 2005 went to Leslie Cooley for Citizenship, David Prestwood for Integrity, Scott Edson for Intellectual Curiosity, and Vikram Patel for Leadership. All were nominated by fellow students, and supported by a committee of students, faculty, and administrators.

“Leslie Cooley has been a truly integral member of the Law School community,” said Associate Dean for Student Affairs Jill Miller, counting among Cooley’s many accomplishments her work as a PILF auction chair and reinvigoration of Duke Law’s “Streetlaw” program. “She also received the faculty graduation award for outstanding pro bono work. One of her most heartfelt nominations came from a 1L for whom she served as a mentor.”

David Prestwood shared his passion for ethics and integrity primarily through his co-chairmanship of Moot Court and contribution to The Devils Advocate, noted Miller. “He wrote and spoke often about the need for a ‘duty to report’ which respect to the honor code and often criticized our existing code as being too lenient. The selection committee members were impressed with his willingness to speak so publicly about a topic that was simply not on the radar screen of many of his classmates.”

Scott Edson, the outgoing editor in chief of Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum (DELPF) was nominated for the Intellectual Curiosity award by several of his journal colleagues as well as many of his classmates. According to one student nominator, Edson is unique in his work ethic. “Scott is the hardest worker I’ve ever seen; he really just enjoys learning and contributing to the learning of others.”

Vikram Patel is the outgoing president of the Duke Bar Association, and a former chair of the DBA community service board, which nearly doubled under his leadership, said Miller. “His nominations, which came from all three classes of JD students, detailed not only his personal leadership, but the fact that he worked to inspire so many other students to take leadership roles.”

Each award recipient received a gift, and had a new book dedicated on his or her behalf in the Law Library. Winners’ names will be engraved on plaques, which will be displayed next to Dean Miller’s portrait.