The Oregon Law School Minoru Yasui Justice Award is given to an Oregon Law graduate, faculty member, or friend of Oregon Law whose commitment to advancing the cause of justice on behalf of underrepresented communities brings honor to the school. The award is named in recognition of Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and Oregon Law Alumnus, Minoru Yasui.
* Nominations are solicited by Oregon Law and the LSAA and a committee of Oregon Law alumni selects the annual recipient.
2021 Award Recipients:
Bruce Lamb, JD '84
Benjamin Beijing Wang, JD '98
Bruce Lamb has represented immigrants and refugees in immigration court for the past 35 years as a volunteer attorney for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. In 2011, Lamb joined the faculty at Highline College (the most diverse student body of any college campus in Washington) as a legal studies teacher. The diverse campus has allowed him to join the mission of making the legal profession more representative of the broad society it serves.
Benjamin Beijing Wang has practiced immigration law for more than 20 years and has personally represented hundreds of immigrants coming from different regions of the world. In 2017, Wang became an immigration law professor here at the UO Law School. Through his teaching, he hopes to help future lawyers gain knowledge of US immigration laws, recognize the systemic injustice embedded in the US immigration system, and start thinking about taking actions to make our laws just and fair to all.
We will be celebrating these award recipients at the Oregon Law Awards Dinner and Reception on September 17, 2021.
2020: Suzanne McCormick, JD '97
Suzanne McCormick graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1997. During law school, she was co-director of the Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund (OLSPIF).
Since graduation, Suzanne has devoted her legal career to affording security and stability to vulnerable populations. After laX+Modifiersenvelope-stats--show__borderw school, she worked as a staff attorney at Public Counsel advocating for children’s and immigrants' rights. Suzanne, Executive Director, founded the Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC), a nonprofit organization providing services to underrepresented immigrants in California and Nevada in 2004. She started ICWC in Los Angeles and has expanded services to San Francisco, San Diego, and Las Vegas communities.
She has established ICWC as one of the leading legal service agencies that provides immigration relief options for survivors of trauma. Using US federal legislation, including the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), ICWC represents survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual assault. ICWC’s overall goal is to help these immigrants permanently escape abusive relationships, live in safety, and become self-sufficient. Suzanne works with and leads a team of over 40 attorneys and support staff to further ICWC’s mission. Under Suzanne’s direction, ICWC has served more than 45,000 individuals.
Cory Smith has dedicated almost twenty years of his career to protecting the rights of vulnerable populations and individual rights through policy and advocacy. As the current Vice-President of Policy, Advocacy & Communications with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) in Washington, DC he worked on behalf of unaccompanied children receive fair and appropriate treatment and due process while in the US immigration system. His commitment to advancing the cause of justice was seen through his past work as Senior Policy Counsel for Humanity United. Smith led the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) coalition which led to the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2013 and secured nearly $100 million dollars in federal funding to combat modern day slavery. In his efforts to fight for underrepresented people, Smith led a national Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform which was comprised of over 100 immigrant rights, labor, civil rights, faith-based, and community rights organizations. Through his leadership and the coalition’s efforts, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S.2611) was passed by in the U.S. Senate. Smith, who is a member of the Washington State Bar, received his JD from Oregon Law and his BA from Florida State University.
Jonathan Patterson is the Staff Attorney at Compassion & Choices, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization dedicated to improving care and expanding choice at the end of life. He provides consultation for a wide variety of legal matters, including the issues of unwanted medical treatment, medical aid in dying, and end of life decision-making. He is a frequent national speaker on available end-of-life options and empowering consumers to make healthcare decisions in line with their values.
A Wichita, Kan. native, Jon completed his undergraduate studies in political science and psychology at Hawai’i Pacific University in Honolulu, where he worked as an educator and youth and developmental disability counselor before moving to the Pacific Northwest to attend the University of Oregon School of Law. He is very active in the Oregon legal community, currently serving as Chair of the Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and Immediate Past-Chair of the Oregon State Bar Diversity Section. Jon is also the past-president of the Oregon chapter of the National Bar Association, Oregon’s membership organization for African-American attorneys, judges, law students, and supporters. He is a past recipient of the Oregon New Lawyers Division Advancing Diversity Award.
Peggy Nagae helped found the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and is serving as its president. As lead attorney for Minoru Yasui, she successfully overturned his conviction and championed his nomination for the Presidential Medal of Honor. In 2017, Peggy won the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession Spirit of Excellence Award and the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon Voices of Change award.