Law Student of the Year: Stephanie Ibarra, Texas Tech University

During her first and second years in law school, Stephanie Ibarra earned the highest Dean’s Award recognition on the Texas Tech Law Pro Bono Honor Roll by performing more than 100 hours of voluntary pro bono service hours each year. Through her service, Ibarra has also become a member of the Law Student Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas for the past two years.

“Stephanie is one of those students who immediately understood the importance of giving back, and her dedication to pro bono service has had a demonstrable impact on others at the school," said Dean Darby Dickerson.

The third-year has volunteered with a variety of legal services organizations in a variety of different communities — the Innocence Project of Texas, Legal Aid of Northwest Texas (LANWT), Texas Civil Rights Project and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. 

During the summer of 2014, while Ibarra was busy splitting her time between working for a federal judge and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Laredo, she found time to help low-income, elderly family members and friends in her community with filing a variety of pro se legal documents. She helped these individuals access legal templates, fill out forms, and translate documents. Importantly, she always represented herself as a law student and never offered legal advice. 

Last fall, Ibarra participated in the Fall Pro Bono Wills Clinic co-sponsored by Tech Law and LANWT, meeting with low-income clients, identifying their estate-planning needs, and drafting the necessary estate-planning documents under the supervision of a licensed attorney. Later in the semester, Ibarra traveled to Amarillo to participate in a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals clinic sponsored by the Equal Justice Center by helping qualifying individuals fill out the necessary immigration paperwork to be filed with USCIS.

Her commitment to helping others is also very personal. During elementary school, Ibarra, her siblings, and her mother were homeless and living in poverty when her father left. She will never forget the kindness and selflessness that others demonstrated toward her family during that time to help get them back on their feet.

“The overwhelming generosity displayed by others during a vulnerable time in my life is something I carry with me to this day,” she said. 

Ibarra is one of 25 future lawyers honored in the National Jurist’s inaugural “Law Student of the Year” feature.