Burger Named Public Service Student of the Year; 44 Classmates Recognized for Public Service Commitment

JD candidate Kailey Burger was named Public Service Student of the Year at the annual Public Service Awards Ceremony for her exemplary work on behalf of juveniles.

In her remarks announcing the award, Mae C. Quinn, professor of law and co-director of the Civil Justice Clinic, remembered Burger as someone who not only came to class with a smile on her face each day, but also had the courage as a first-year student to approach Quinn directly with questions about class and public service opportunities.

As a member of the Civil Justice Clinic, Burger was central to drafting HB 1721 to give parole review to children sentenced to life in prison in Missouri, Quinn said. The bill presaged the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Miller v. Alabama that bans mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles under the U.S. Constitution.

Burger also coordinated a 3-on-3 basketball tournament that now serves thousands of children annually, and she was a founding member and teacher in the law school’s Marshall-Brennan Project, a national service learning organization that places law students in public high schools to take civics education beyond its basic requirements.

While her passion for helping children influenced her decision to attend law school, Burger says that once there, she became even more aware first of just how great the need for advocacy is. “When I started doing Marshall-Brennan, I realized that there is a big disconnect between the legal system and kids—a ‘school to prison’ pipeline,” she says.

While in law school, Burger also had the opportunity share her passions as part of a panel during the Clinton Global Initiative-University held at Washington University this past spring. She says she was deeply honored to have received an email from President Bill Clinton inviting her to speak along with Karen Freeman-Wilson, the Mayor of Gary, Indiana.

“I was on cloud 9,” Burger recalls, adding that it also provided a good networking opportunity. “It was great serving on the panel with the mayor and share my perspective on how young people can begin to tackle similar issues while still in college.”

During her last semester of law school, Burger was a full-time intern with the New York City for the Center for Economic Opportunity, a division of Mayor Bloomberg’s office charged with alleviating policy. In the fall, she has earned a position as a coveted Zuckerman Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she will pursue a master of education degree.

“I could not afford to go to Harvard without that fellowship,” she said, noting that the full-tuition scholarship is awarded to only a small group of applicants who have first earned a JD, MD, or MBA and then want to pursue public service. After her fellowship, she plans to return to New York to work as an assistant corporation counsel in Family Court for the City of New York. 

Public Service Honorees 

In addition to Burger, 44 other law students were recognized for their commitment to public service. Public Service Advisory Board (PSAB) member David A. Collier served as emcee for the event, which also featured Kent Syverud, dean and the Ethan A. H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor; David M. Becker, associate dean for External Relations and the Joseph H. Zumbalen Professor Emeritus of the Law of Property; Peter H. Ruger, senior lecturer in law and co-director of the Intellectual Property and Nonprofit Organizations Clinic; Elizabeth Walsh, assistant dean for Student Services; Janet Laybold, lecturer in law and associate dean for Admissions, Career Services, and Student Services; and Mae C. Quinn, professor of law and co-director of the Civil Justice Clinic.

Michael Martinich-Sauter was recognized as the Stuart L. Oelbaum Public Interest Fellow, while Malcolm Peyton-Cook, Rosalyn Savage, Marissa Ulman, Joel Wessol, and John M. Zanetti were honored as David M. Becker Public Interest Fellows. Lauren Abbott was recognized as Clinical Legal Education Association Outstanding Clinical Law Student.

Thirty-two students received the Dean’s Service Award for logging 75 hours of community service during their three years of law school: Sarah Aslam, George Bailey, Rachita Bhatt, Kailey Burger, Marsha C. Clarke, Elliot Cole, David A. Collier, Neil Edward Cook, Emily Danker-Feldman, Kaylee Davis-Maddy, Lauren Dies, Michael Ding, Christine Donahoe, Steven Escobar, Lorrette K. Fisher, Andrew R. German, Zachary Greenberg, Lucas Guard, Veronica Harwin, Meagan Hatcher-Mays, Nicholas P. Heberle, Allison Jones, Anne Jump, Alexandra Klingenstein, John Laughlin, Jennifer Muller, Sarah Sherer-Kohlburn, Sarah Forster Sunderman, Zoran Tasic, Deanna Ly Tran, Marissa Ulman, and Kelly Wenell.

Receiving Pro Bono Pledge Participant Awards for completing 50 hours of public service were: M. Shelby Deeney, Kadeidra Honey, James Abram Morrow, Astrid Gabriela Munn, Mary Beth Ricke, and Michela Skelton Birk.

By Timothy J. Fox