Christmas Law Firm takes pride in helping support future lawyers through a $1,000 award provided to one high achieving student pursuing a career in the legal field. The following are the yearly award winners. For more information on the scholarship or how to apply, visit our scholarship page here.
2019 Winner: Jennie Christensen
Ms. Christensen is a third year (3L) law student at Notre Dame Law School where her academic focus has been on the topics of Data Privacy and Cyber Law. For her final semester, she will be interning full time at an IT consulting firm in Chicago; finalizing a Directed Reading on the topic of the legality of compelling encrypted data; and will begin writing a book on the ways individuals can be (and are) successful without being particularly brilliant in the traditional IQ-sense. After completing her final year at Notre Dame Law School, she plans to take the bar exam in Illinois and, soon thereafter, will begin a Masters program in Information Security.
In response to receiving the award, Ms. Christensen commented that she was “surprised and honored to learn that [she] was this year’s recipient of the Visionary Scholarship award.” She added that she plans to put the award towards the costs of preparing for the bar exam and is “incredibly grateful to Christmas Injury Lawyers for both the scholarship opportunity and for choosing [her] as a recipient.” She concluded: “I wrote about something that mattered to me – the right to trial by jury – and the writing flowed naturally. I didn’t anticipate being selected but am endlessly grateful for the recognition.”
2018 Winner: Alamea Deedee Bitran
This year’s winner, Alamea Deedee Bitran, focused on the Sixth Amendment, which grants Americans the right to a jury trial.
Finding an Interest in Law
Deedee graduated summa cum laude with a 3.99/4.0 GPA from the University of Florida in May 2012. She originally had no plans to go into law, majoring in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. However, that changed when she was a graduate student pursuing her doctorate in audiology. An attorney was a guest speaker in one of her clinical audiology courses and discussed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with the class. The attorney explained the different accommodations that audiologists and public schools must provide to patients to avoid incurring liability under the ADA. She was absolutely fascinated by the legal analysis involved.
As an audiology student clinician, she was also frustrated with not being able to fight for her clinical patients’ rights to various accommodations. At that moment she realized she could best assist the deaf population as an attorney, rather than as an audiologist. After finishing her audiology exams and completing her first year in her doctorate program, she took the June 2013 LSAT on two weeks’ notice. Taking the LSAT was a complete leap of faith. Florida International University Law accepted her within 48 hours of her scores being released in July 2013, and she began law school at FIU Law in August 2013. Deedee says that while this was a drastic and sudden career swap, it was the best decision she ever made.
Finding Success in Law School
While at FIU Law, she secured a ranking in the top 5 percent of her class. She says she never lost sight of why she initially decided to go to law school: to advocate for the rights of people who suffer from disabilities. She received CALI Book Awards for Excellence in Employment Law, Employment Discrimination, Medical Malpractice, and her Employment Discrimination Seminar.
In addition, she is President of FIU’s Employment and Labor Law Society, and she organizes events that bring in local employment discrimination practitioners to form professional relationships with FIU law students. She is also an Articles and Comments Editor on the FIU Law Review and a member of FIU Law’s appellate moot court team. Further, she is a research assistant to Professor Kerri Stone, who writes scholarship about disability discrimination, sexual harassment, and suggested reforms for workplace law under Title VII. Outside of FIU Law, she is the Membership Chair of ATID Young Jewish Professionals, which fundraises to build shelters for women of domestic violence throughout Israel.
Looking to the Future
Once she graduates, Deedee is looking forward to being an associate at Shutts & Bowen, LLP. She is not yet sure what specialty she will focus on, but she does have a passion for employment law. While in law school, she has made it her mission to learn as much as she can about the Americans with Disabilities Act and other ways people with disabilities can enforce their rights. This ability to fight for one’s rights was a major point of her winning essay.
According to the essay, the Sixth Amendment’s right to a jury trial serves as a safeguard against corruption tainting our judicial system. Her essay compared a world without a jury system to the backwards world described in Alice in Wonderland. Without our sacrosanct jury system, who or what would stop the “Queen of Hearts” from making arbitrary and irrational pronouncements of guilt and punishment?
Deedee says that ten years ago, she thought she was going to be an audiologist. Yet today, she could not be happier with her decision to pursue law school. She says she recognizes that life throws all sorts of unexpected, and sometimes wonderful, curve balls your way to reshape your carefully crafted “plans.” As such, she’s learned to embrace the curveballs and learn as much as she can.
The Howell and Christmas Visionary Scholarship is open to United States citizens and permanent residents who are currently enrolled in an accredited college or university. Applicants must have a GPA of 2.8 or higher and apply winnings to their current term’s tuition. For more information, visit our scholarship page or contact us today.
2017 Award Winner: Joseph Capobianco
Joseph Capobianco was born and raised on Long Island where he quickly gained an interest in a variety of topics and subjects; ranging from basketball to the law to chess to politics to trombone to astronomy. Looking to escape Long Island, the small town kid moved to Washington, D.C. where he quickly adjusted to everyone using “y’all,” and everyone telling him he had a heavy New York accent. Right now, Joe is completing his senior year at The George Washington University, majoring in Political Science. He plans on following his passion for the law to its fullest extent and attend law school next semester.
Joe’s Reaction: “I’d say I’m extremely happy to have received the award. I think it’s a fantastic thing Howell and Christmas have done in offering this scholarship. As a future law school student looking to finance the enormous cost of law school, the money sure goes a long way.”