Jessica Frisina Wins Gary Bellow Public Service Award!

Congratulations to Jessica Frisina, J.D. ’14! Jessica participated in the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic during the Fall of 2012. While at the Clinic, she worked on a Honduran domestic violence case and her client was later granted asylum. She also assisted with a Rwandan genocide survivor case. Having recently graduated, HIRC wishes her all the best in her future endeavors!

via: Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs Blog

On April 16th, Harvard Law School student Jessica Frisina (3L) and Alumnus David Singleton, ’91 were honored with the Gary Bellow Public Service Award. The award was created in 2001, in honor of Professor Gary Bellow, a pioneering public interest lawyer, founder and former Faculty Director of Harvard Law School’s Clinical Programs.  The awards are presented annually by the HLS student body to recognize one third-year student and one graduate who have demonstrated excellence in public interest work and a strong commitment to social justice.

Student winner, Jessica Frisina came to Harvard Law School with a commitment to public interest but uncertain about what area of law interested her the most. Between conversations with friends and clinical instructors, she came to realize her passion for criminal justice and started representing inmates in disciplinary hearings through the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP). Jessica spent her 2L summer at the juvenile Public Defender’s office in New Orleans and then went on to the Criminal Justice Institute to represent clients in criminal and juvenile court.

“Jess has made my job very easy”, said Kristin Muniz, Clinical Instructor at the Criminal Justice Institute. “She is diligent, compassionate, and fights very hard for her clients.  Just recently she argued a very difficult Motion to Suppress. She was well prepared and responded to all of the judge’s questions, including citing to cases that supported her position. The Judge noted that because of her presentation he would take the case under advisement and re-read the cases cited before making his ruling,” said Kristin. “That’s Jessica in every one of her cases – her dedication and preparation caused the Judge to pause. With all of her CJI cases, the ones assigned to her and the additional ones that she volunteered to take from other students, she immediately calls the client, sets up an interview and gets down to work,” she said.

In her remarks, Jessica thanked her HLS classmates for inspiring and challenging her these past three years, her clinical instructors for teaching her what it means to be a zealous advocate, and the Office of Public Interest Advising for helping her realize her dream of pursuing juvenile justice. She noted that thanks to all of these people, she is leaving law school “more energized and motivated than when she began.” After she graduates, Jessica hopes to pursue her passion by advocating for children in Detroit who are at risk of becoming caught up in the school-to-prison pipeline.