Daniel Moreno, Jr., a December 2000 graduate of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, has been named the first runner up for the national Outstanding Law Student of 2000 Award by the editors of Who's Who: American Law Students.
The Outstanding Law Student is chosen from candidates nominated by either the law school or by a student legal organization at law schools across the country. Selection criteria include achievement in the study of law, service to the law school community, volunteer service to the larger community, and/or pursuit of a law career in spite of prohibiting factors. This recognition includes a cash scholarship plus dedication of the 20th edition of Who's Who: American Law Students which will be published in May, 2001.
Because of the number of excellent candidates who applied for this honor, this year, for the first time, Who's Who: Law Students has chosen to recognize a second place winner.
Mr. Moreno was selected for this honor because of his activities both on and off campus. Daniel served as Regional President of the Hispanic National Bar Association/Law Student Division where he was responsible for overseeing minority-Hispanic law student organizations within the 20 ABA-accredited law schools in California and Hawai'i.
At Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Moreno served as President of the Student Bar Association and was awarded the American Bar Association/Law Student Division's SBA President of the Year Award-Western Region. He also received the Charles T. Bumer Civil Libertarian Award presented by the National Lawyers Guild and the La Raza Lawyers Association Scholarship for outstanding leadership and community involvement.
Daniel worked closely with Esther Sánchez, 1998-99 President of the San Diego County La Raza Lawyers Association to set up a mentor program for the benefit of all three San Diego area law schools. Through this program, students were matched with attorneys and judges who served as mentors and role models. Both Daniel and his wife participated in MANA community events helping high school students in their efforts to receive a higher education.
Daniel is an excellent role model for these students since his own path to higher education was paved with false starts in medical school, periods of living in the back of a van with his wife and young daughter, staying in rooms at the hospitals where his wife worked, and months of separation with Daniel on the West Coast attending law school while his wife was on the East Coast earning his tuition.
These experiences have contributed to Mr. Moreno's goal to use his legal education to "challeng[e] the status quo through both legal intervention and by effectuating change in legislation." He believes that "change can be realized only by forming political affiliations and remaining connected to the community at large." He recognizes that those most in need of legal advocacy are often those least able to afford it. "These are the people," said Moreno, "who lose everything if somebody does not step into their corner." He believes that the legal education he has received will prepare him to make a difference in the community.
The winner of the National Outstanding Law Student of 2000 award is Jessica Alyson Smith from Exeter, Maine, a 2001 graduate of the Vermont Law School in South Royalton.