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Five Tulane Law 2017 graduates receive all-campus awards

May 18, 2017 8:10 AM

Tulane University has recognized five members of Tulane Law’s Class of 2017 with university-wide honors for their academic excellence, service and leadership.

Johannah Cousins, Samantha Pfotenhauer and Andrew Waters received the Tulane 34 Award, which is presented to only 34 graduates across all disciplines who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate life. The award is named for the year Tulane was founded, 1834, and is one of the university’s highest honors.

Sheridan DuPont and Rachel Gulotta received Student Crest Awards, a campus-wide recognition of achievements within and outside the classroom. These awards, sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, honor excellence in leadership, scholarship and community service, along with initiative and promise in campus leadership.

Tulane 34 Awards

Johannah Cousins, from Indian Springs, Alabama, is one of Tulane Law’s most-prolific pro bono volunteers, completing more than 520 hours focused on indigent criminal defense. She advocated for a Louisiana State Penitentiary inmate at his parole hearing through Tulane’s Project for Older Prisoners, helping secure the prisoner’s release. She also volunteered at the nonprofit Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, which represents indigent clients charged with capital crimes; clerked for Orleans Public Defenders; and assisted Professor Pamela Metzger, a national leader in criminal justice reform, in representing indigent Orleans Parish inmates. Cousins also represented needy clients as a student-attorney in the Tulane Criminal Law Clinic. Professor Katherine Mattes, the clinic director, said Cousins showed “remarkable oral advocacy skills and most importantly a great empathy and care for her clients.” Cousins also was a Tulane Law Review Notes & Comments editor and a mentor and tutor to other law students. She plans to work as a staff attorney at Orleans Public Defenders in fall 2017.

Samantha Pfotenhauer, from Tempe, Arizona, chaired the 2016 Tulane Environmental Law Summit, one of the country’s largest student-run environmental law conferences, which attracted more than 300 students, lawyers, academics and representatives from government, industry and nonprofit groups for two days of wide-ranging panels pressing issues. Pfotenhauer also was the Tulane Law Review’s symposium editor and a legal research and writing senior fellow, helping first-year students with writing assignments. She worked as a student-attorney in the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, representing an equine advocacy group in a lawsuit against the U.S. Army, and her law review comment, “A Limited Defense of EPA’s Water Transfer Rule: Seeking a Brighter Line,” won the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Environmental Essay Contest in 2016. She is set to clerk for U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman (L ’57) in New Orleans for a year and then practice at Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York.

Andrew Waters, from Memphis, Tennessee, was 2016-17 executive president of the Student Bar Association, which oversees about 40 law student groups and an annual budget of $130,000. Among other accomplishments, the SBA under his leadership raised more than $1,000 for the Baton Rouge Food Bank’s flood relief efforts, sent 12 Moot Court teams to compete in tournaments and pushed for changes to policies on externship credits. Waters also served as the main liaison between students and the law school administration and advocated for students as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Committee. He worked as a student-attorney in the Tulane Civil Litigation Clinic, was a Tulane Maritime Law Journal managing editor and assisted international LLM students as a legal writing and research senior fellow. His other leadership positions included class president his second year, Maritime Law Society treasurer and a lead member of the Class of 2017 gift drive. He plans to practice civil litigation with a New Orleans law firm.  

Crest Awards  

V. Sheridan DuPont from Midland, Michigan, received the 2017 James F. Kilroy Provost’s Award, which recognizes a graduating graduate student who has excelled scholastically, has a distinguished record of involvement and has excelled in student leadership on campus. As Tulane Law Review editor in chief, DuPont oversaw a team of about 60 students in producing five journal issues encompassing 1,400 pages. Professor Ron Scalise (L ’00), the law review’s faculty adviser, said DuPont showed “impeccable judgment and an incredible work ethic.” She also helped first-year law students through the legal research and writing class as a senior fellow. Assistant Dean of Students Abby Gaunt that “Both in and out of the classroom, Sheridan DuPont is an exemplary legal scholar who is dedicated to leading and mentoring others.” She plans to clerk for U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon (L ’62) in New Orleans for a year and then for Judge Jacques L. Wiener Jr. (L ’61) on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rachel Gulotta from New Iberia, Louisiana, received the 2017 Gary Lawton Fretwell Award, which recognizes a graduate student who, in leading a student group, has contributed to the organization’s growth and success as well as the development of other students. As 2016-2017 chief justice of Tulane Law’s student-run Moot Court program, she oversaw some 50 members on 12 teams in trial, appellate, negotiation/mediation and arbitration competition, along with two invitational tournaments that Tulane Law hosts. A 2016 member of Tulane’s Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court team that competed in Brussels, Paris and Vienna, Gulotta also coached a 2017 team. As chief justice, she supervised an overhaul of the moot court bylaws and general structure to comply with recent changes to American Bar Association rules. She helped resurrect the Civil Law Society, tutored other law students and worked as a student-attorney in the Juvenile Law Clinic. She is set to clerk for Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Jay Wilkinson (L ’80) in New Orleans.