As one of its initiatives in the legal community, the AWA has committed to award $500 annually to an outstanding law clinic student from each of the two local law schools, whose work has focused on issues important to the AWA. At Tulane, the $500 award is given to the most outstanding student in the Domestic Violence Law Clinic(as chosen by the Director of the Clinic). At Loyola, the $500 award is given to the most outstanding student in the family law section of the Loyola Law Clinic (to be selected by the family law attorney/advisor at the Clinic).
Our 2017 AWA Recipient from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, Family Law Section of the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice is Tobie Lynn Tranchina. Tobie is deserving of this award because of her outstanding clinic work in both the Family Law and Children’s Rights sections, respectively supervised by Clinical Professors of Law, Cheryl Buchert and Ramona Fernandez. Tobie is one of the Clinic’s very best students who possesses the professionalism, work ethic, intellect, and skills to be a great and compassionate attorney. Tobie’s lawyering theme is “Keeping Families Together”. In her pursuit of social justice, she has truly done an outstanding job in representing her indigent clients in adoption, custody, and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) cases. Tobie has represented her clients in status conferences, pre-trials, hearings, and trials. She has successfully completed three SIJS cases affording these children an opportunity to become Lawful Permanent Residents. In one trial, Tobie solely represented the mother where the father was petitioning for a change of custody with relocation. Tobie won the trial. In her second custody trial, which was two full days, she represented three minor children along with her co-counsel. The case has been in litigation since 2010 and the clinic has represented the children for three years logging over 700 hours through the years. The case finally went to trial this semester and Tobie and her co-counsel examined five Court Appointed Expert Witnesses and the children’s therapist. Rendering a Considered Decree, the Court awarded itself domiciliary status of the three children. Additionally, Tobie earned the asterisk in Buchert’s Family Law class for the Spring 2017 Semester and has logged close to 500 clinic hours this school year.  

Our 2017 award recipient from the Tulane Domestic Violence Clinic is Rebecca Hutchinson. During her year in the Domestic Violence Clinic, Rebecca tirelessly advocated for her clients, putting hundreds of hours of work into helping domestic violence survivors and their children. Rebecca came to the Clinic with a background in social work, and impressively integrated her social work skill and experience with exceptional legal advocacy for her clients. Throughout the year, she worked closely with fellow Clinic students to help domestic violence survivors obtain divorce, safe child custody orders, and the resources necessary to stabilize their lives in the aftermath of abuse. In her first case, Rebecca represented a domestic violence survivor whose abuser had strangled and abused her in front of her young children. Rebecca and her co-counsel represented the survivor in civil court, resulting in an order that gave the client sole custody of her two young children and a permanent protective order. In another case, Rebecca, along with co-counsel, represented another domestic violence survivor in a case in which the abusive parent was seeking shared custody of their minor child. Rebecca prepared the case through extensive pre-trial processes that included written discovery and deposing the defendant. Her hard work (and a very effective deposition) led to a negotiated resolution that gave her client custody of the child, and imposed supervised visitation on the domestic violence perpetrator. She demonstrated exceptional professionalism and preparedness in representing all of her clients, placing them at ease during stressful processes. Rebecca’s compassion for her clients, her dedication to their cases, and her exceptional professionalism in carrying out her case work has made a difference in the lives of many domestic violence survivors and their children during this Clinic year.