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2016 Pro Bono Publico Award Winner: Gabrielle Lucero

Congratulations to the 2016 Pro Bono Publico Award Winner:
  Gabrielle Lucero from Duke University School of Law!

Gabrielle Lucero

Gabrielle Lucero of Duke University School of Law

Gabrielle is dedicated to helping her community directly and by creating infrastructures that will continue to serve clients after she graduates. First, recognizing a need to assist veterans and changes Legal Aid was undergoing in its work with veterans, Gabrielle took up the leadership of the Veterans Assistance Project (VAP). Along with a Legal Aid attorney, she established a structure for students to more easily and regularly complete the needed work. She created documents to be used and replicated, quick references for students on each step of the process, and established connections with local practioners to ensure continuity of service. She identified Military Sexual Trauma (MST) cases as a particular need, and developed a network and training materials to handle these cases. Gabrielle did all this, while volunteering herself assisting clients.  Because of her good work, she was hand-picked to take on the first MST case. These cases can present some of the most difficult advocacy issues, both because this area is comparatively new and because of the sensitive subject matter.  Not only was Gabrielle successful on behalf of her client, but she produced research and connections with a physician that specializes in MST care that will enable many more successes. Thinking longer term, Gabrielle created connections with UNC School of Law and NC Central University School of Law to broaden the scope of the project's impact.

Additionally, Gabrielle took over the recently inactive student group Coalition Against Gendered Violence (CAGV), and focused in on two major components. Gabrielle created a pro bono project with the NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault, volunteering to provide assistance to college campus victims of sexual assault during the university adjudication hearings. The second prong of the Coalition's work is addressing the needs of victims and survivors who are part of the Duke Law community.  Gabrielle's hard work and dedication were instrumental in creating pro bono opportunities and community assistance that will long outlast her time at the law school.  As her nominator stated, "[w]ithout her focused efforts to work with Legal Aid and redesign our VAP program or to redesign our CAGV, we would likely have lost both projects."

Gabrielle summed up her dedication best. "When people ask me why I am so involved in the community and put so much of my time towards service, it is an easy answer: people. While I have a busy schedule of two graduate degrees, Army ROTC, and a number of school and community activities, it never feels overwhelming because of the people."