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Alumni

The Honorable D. Brooks Smith, a 1976 graduate of The Dickinson School of Law, will be the featured speaker at this spring’s commencement ceremonies for the Penn State University Dickinson School of Law. Smith is a member of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, having been nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate on July 31, 2002.
Another income-based federal student loan repayment option became available December 21, 2012. The Pay As You Earn (PAYE) option affords student loan borrowers the opportunity to have the monthly payment on their federal loans calculated as a percentage of available income rather than being dependent upon the amount borrowed. This will make a significant difference to borrowers with lower incomes and large federal student loan debt.
Support from the Degenstein Foundation and money raised by the Public Interest Law Fund will enable nine Penn State Law students to work in nonprofit or government organizations this summer. Placements span as far west as Los Angeles in the United States and as far east as Macedonia abroad.
If Tom VanKirk ’70, could point to only one management practice that has led to the successes he has experienced in his career, it would have to be strategic planning. “Buchanan (Ingersoll & Rooney) was one of the first law firms to develop a strategic plan back in 1985,” VanKirk remembers. At the time, he was chief operating officer and the firm was trying to determine the geographic region in which it was to become a leader.
Penn State Law student Sean Jorgensen was awarded a ten-week summer fellowship from the Peggy Browning Fund. Jorgensen will be working at AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) AFL-CIO, in Washington, DC which has 1.6 million working and retired members.
Erin Bloxham ’12 was wrapping up her responsibilities as a fellow with Penn State Law’s Family Law Clinic before moving on to her new role as Centre County Assistant District Attorney. One of her cases was a divorce, referred to the clinic by the Civil Legal Representation Project of the Centre County Women's Resource Center. Client Traci Raymond Miscavish had been attacked by her husband who had spent time in jail. Bloxham, second-year law student Kira Lecznar assigned to the case, and the clinic’s director Jill Engle were impressed with Miscavish’s courage. On March 28, the unthinkable happened. Traci Raymond Miscavish’s husband Mark Miscavish shot and killed her and himself at Traci's place of employment leaving her family, the community, and the members of the Family Law Clinic devastated. Last weekend the students attended a candlelight vigil in Miscavish’s memory during which Engle spoke saying that her goal and of those attending is to carry the light of domestic violence victims forward.
The need and opportunity for the legal community to provide public interest law service spans all times and places in the course of a legal career. Each spring, Penn State Law celebrates its commitment to public interest law with a week of activities designed to introduce and facilitate student interest in public interest law. Public Interest Law Week is being held April 8 to April 14 this year at Penn State Law.
Fifteen years later, the 1997 classmates entered another pact: to create a scholarship benefiting Dickinson School of Law students of superior academic achievement.
If the Supreme Court invalidates the Defense of Marriage Act, third-year law student Maren Miller-Bam hopes that her work played some small part in it. She assisted Penn State Law professor Robert Rains, a family and federal benefits expert, in an amicus brief on behalf NOSSCR, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives.
Forensic science can be a powerful weapon to a litigator and to law enforcement. A day-long seminar at Penn State Law on April 5 will provide an opportunity to learn from experts about forensic tools that can help win cases. Forensic Science Legal Tools is designed for prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, and civil litigators as well as members of the science and law enforcement communities who may be expert witnesses. Students who are interested in careers in law, law enforcement, and/or forensics are encouraged to attend. The seminar is free to the public but there is a fee to register for continuing education credits.

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