Michelle Lesser of Bayside, Queens, a student at St. John’s University School of Law, has been chosen as the 2010 recipient of the Judge Bernard S. Meyer Scholarship. The award, funded by the law firm Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C. of Garden City and administered by The New York Bar Foundation, is presented annually to a student who exhibits excellence in legal writing and advocacy skills.
Ms. Lesser is recognized for her legal scholarship for a paper she wrote entitled, “Deportation of a Parent: How Current Immigration Law Ignores the Best Interests of the Child.” The paper focuses exclusively on undocumented immigrant parents of United States citizen children and proposes integrating the best interests of these children into our immigration system. It exposes the impact immigration law has on the child and explores the “best interests of the child,” its prevalence and importance in others parts of the American legal system, and its absence in the immigration system.
Ms. Lesser argues that current immigration policy prohibits immigration judges presiding over removal hearings from considering the best interests of the child. She concludes with a proposal to incorporate, “a path towards citizenship for the parent whose children’s best interests are served by not removal but the family’s complete integration into society.” You can access the essay in its entirety at The Foundation’s website at www.tnybf.org.
“We are very pleased that the Judge Meyer Scholarship has been awarded to Ms. Lesser,” said Lois Carter Schlissel, managing attorney for Meyer, Suozzi English and Klein, P.C. “This essay contest allows the firm to encourage excellence in legal writing and advocacy among future members of our profession while honoring Judge Meyer for his outstanding work and dedication to the law.”
Established in 2004, the award is available to second-year law students attending a law school in New York. The $5,000 scholarship will be applied to Ms. Lesser’s 2010/2011 academic year tuition at St. John’s.
M. Catherine Richardson, president of The Foundation said, “We are pleased to award the Judge Meyer Scholarship to a student of such distinction. Ms. Lesser’s essay discusses a hotly debated subject that has significant relevance to all Americans, especially to the United States citizen children living in families with one or two undocumented immigrant parents. Her paper exemplifies the excellent legal writing and advocacy skills that we seek in law students planning to become members of the legal profession.”
An honors student, Ms. Lesser is an articles editor of the St. John’s Law Review. She is a recipient of the Academic Merit Scholarship and the 2009 Federal Scholars Award. Additionally, she has been awarded the CALI Awards for Excellence in Civil Procedure and Torts I at St. John’s Law School. Ms. Lesser is a graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development in 2006. While there, she was named to the Dean’s List in 2004, 2005 and 2006. She was a member of Psi Chi (National Honor Society in Psychology), social chair of Alpha Chi Omega; participated in marketing on the Pre-Law Journal; and was a research assistant in the Psychology Laboratory.
Ms. Lesser is currently working as a summer associate at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP of New York City and plans to pursue a fall externship in the New York County District Attorney’s Office in New York. She pursued a judicial internship with Hon. Victor Marrero, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York during summer 2009. She also worked for two years as a legal assistant in Mergers & Acquisitions in the Corporate Department of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP in New York.
Judge Meyer was an associate judge of the New York Court of Appeals from 1979-1986 and practiced with Meyer Suozzi from 1987 until his death in 2005. He earned his law degree at the University of Maryland School of Law and was a graduate of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Among his notable accomplishments, he served as special deputy attorney general of New York in charge of the Special Attica Investigation and was a member of the Governor’s Commission on Integrity in Government.
Andrew J. Turro, Esq., a member of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C., Hon. Michael A. Ciaffa, a former member of the firm now serving as Nassau County District Court Judge, and Foundation Board member, Emily F. Franchina, Esq. (Franchina & Giordano, P.C., of Garden City) comprise the scholarship selection committee and participated in the blind judging of the essay submissions. Meyer Suozzi will hold a reception in honor of Ms. Lesser at its offices in Garden City this summer.
Founded in 1950, The New York Bar Foundation is celebrating its 60th Anniversary of aiding charitable and educational projects to meet the law-related needs of the public and the legal profession. It provides funding through its grant making program to facilitate the delivery of legal services; increase public understanding of the law; improve the justice system and the law; and enhance professional competence and ethics. For more information about the Foundation, go to www.tnybf.org or call 518/487-5651.