The Public Service Award is given to an attorney who has provided dedicated and outstanding service while employed by an organization that is primarily engaged in providing legal representation to the poor. This year’s award is given to Douglas L. Stevick.
When Doug Stevick was at Yale Law School in the mid-1990s he already knew he would practice public interest law eventually. A great experience as a summer intern with Texas Rural Legal Aid (TRLA) made him want to go back there after graduation, which he did for two years. He then left the flat countryside of Plainview, Texas, to work at a firm at Times Square in New York City. He wasn’t in the city long though before being recruited in 2001 to run Southern Migrant Legal Services (SMLS), based in Nashville. He says he’s been a lawyer for farm workers for more than 10 years now, and therefore has “cast my professional lot.”
SMLS represents clients in five other southern states and is part of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. He explains that the Legal Services Corporation allocates a certain amount of money for migrant farm workers per state, and it was a better economy of scale to consolidate the grants to make a regional office. “We’re part of TRLA and work closely with the office in Texas,” he says.
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