Graduating students honored by their Duke Law colleagues

May 8, 2009Duke Law News

May 8, 2009 — Five graduating Duke Law students received awards recognizing leadership, integrity, intellectual curiosity, citizenship, and community participation at a ceremony on May 6.

The Justin Miller awards – named for the Law School’s dean from 1930-1934 – are awarded to 3L students who exemplify the qualities that Miller espoused during his tenure.

Award winners are nominated by their fellow students, and recognized during the annual Graduation Gala.

Matt Lipsky won the award for citizenship. His fellow students cited his work with various pro bono community outreach projects, his “infectious enthusiasm,” and the mentorship, both official and unofficial, that he provided to other Duke Law students.

“He seems to embody the Justin Miller Citizenship Award’s description of someone who looks beyond individual differences to find common ground in mentoring relationships with others,” wrote one student. “Matt builds communities and draws people together wherever he goes.”

The award for intellectual curiosity went to Eric Eisenberg. Students proposed that Eisenberg win the award for his thoughtful insights and questions in classes, ad hoc seminars, and even casual conversation. Eisenberg’s ability to think outside the parameters defined by legal and political orthodoxy was praised by his Duke Law colleagues.

Sonja Ralston Elder, a familiar face to Duke Law students from her work with numerous organizations from the mock trial board to the Duke Law Drama Society, won the Justin Miller award for leadership.

“Anyone who has met Sonja knows that she is a powerhouse,” wrote one of the students nominating Elder for the award. “An intellectual firestorm, a formidable competitor, an adept leader, and a dogged servant of justice, she could win any of the Miller awards.”

Students cited a conscientious work ethic and buoyant demeanor when nominating Jeff Ward for the Justin Miller award for integrity. Ward’s commitment to academic excellence and leadership in numerous pro bono and community outreach projects impressed others in the Duke Law Community.

Taiwanese LLM candidate Yen-Chia Chen won the LLM Award for Leadership and Community Participation. During his year at Duke Law Chen served as the LLM representative for both the DBA and International Law Society, worked as staff editor for the Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law, was a member of the Class Gift Committee, and traveled to New Orleans as a participant in the Southern Justice Spring Break Mission Trip.
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