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Schmidt '12 Receives Law Student Ethics Award

April 26, 2012

Vermont Law School student Karen Schmidt '12 was among the 2012 recipients of the Law Student Ethics Awards given by the Northeast Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel at its eighth annual dinner on April 5 at the Union Club in Boston.

Image of Karen SchmidtThe chapter created the awards program to recognize and encourage the ethical practice of law at the earliest stages of a young lawyer's professional career, and to shine a spotlight on ethics more generally, demonstrating that the legal community values lawyers who are guided by ethical principles.

The award, which includes a $1,000 scholarship, was given to 11 students, one from each of the participating local law schools, who have demonstrated an early commitment to ethics through work in clinical programs representing their first real clients. Underscoring the legal community's support for the awards and what they stand for, the event was attended by many prominent judges of the state and federal trial and appellate courts in Massachusetts, including justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, as well as faculty from the participating schools, the presidents of numerous bar associations, general counsel from many prominent local companies and managing and senior partners from law firm dinner sponsors.

After welcoming remarks, the student recipients were introduced with a description of the work and commitment that led to their being selected for their awards. Schmidt, who will receive a JD and MELP, has been involved in a number of programs and activities at VLS, including as a student clinician at the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic. She is part of a team that filed a letter of intent to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over a controversial natural gas pipeline project in Puerto Rico. The ENRLC, acting as lead counsel in the case, maintains that current plans for the 92-mile pipeline violate the Endangered Species Act and other federal laws, thereby threatening sensitive ecosystems and their inhabitants.

Image of KlamathWith an undergraduate degree in environmental studies and political science from the University of Pittsburgh, and her experience working the pipeline case, Schmidt envisions putting her legal skills to work back in California or the Pacific Northwest after she graduates in May.

"There's no doubt in my mind that I want to do work in the public interest realm. It's my passion to assist the actual communities and individuals affected by the modification of fragile ecosystems."

Chapter officials said the Law Student Ethics Awards have become increasingly popular over the past seven years, and are an excellent opportunity for in-house counsel, academia, law firms, and the judiciary to come together with a common purpose, to celebrate and promote the ethical underpinnings of the profession and to support and encourage the next generation of accomplished and ethical lawyers.


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