OU Law rising 3L Kimberly Noe-Lehenbauer was recently awarded an Equal Justice Works 2020 Regional Public Interest Award. Out of 127 applications, Noe-Lehenbauer and seven other law students were selected in recognition of exemplary commitment to public interest law and pro bono work.
“Kimberly is most deserving of the Equal Justice Works Regional Public Interest Award,” said Aoife Delargy Lowe, director of law school engagement and advocacy at Equal Justice Works. “She is a passionate advocate for human rights and social justice as shown in her work on campus and in the community.”
Noe-Lehenbauer has a passion for public interest law, as shown by her work both on campus and in the community. As the president of Lawyers Against Human Trafficking, a student organization at OU Law, Noe-Lehenbauer leads education and outreach efforts on pro-bono opportunities for student members. She spearheaded an expungement drive for non-violent past offenders after Oklahoma’s law changed last November and assisted in organizing a pro se divorce clinic in Cleveland County that has since been adopted by the associated judge as a mandatory part of pro se adjudication.
In addition to her work on campus, Noe-Lehenbauer has served her community through professional experiences. Over the past year, she interned for Legal Aid Services and recently began a research fellowship with the Center for WorkLife Law.
“I left a career in journalism mid-life and came to law school specifically to promote social justice for underserved populations, which always works in favor of the public interest,” said Noe-Lehenbauer. “Service coupled with knowledge is powerful and I look forward to a lifetime of service ahead.”
Noe-Lehenbauer logged 75 hours of pro bono service in her first year in law school and will top 100 hours this year through her work with the Victim’s Advocacy Program, where she will help to file protective orders for victims of domestic abuse.
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What led you to OU Law? I have wanted to go to law school since I was a teenager. I was active in speech contests and enjoyed making oral presentations. When I was in high school, I would go downtown and watch some of the trials at the courthouse, so, I got acquainted with the courtroom rather early. I obtained a Navy scholarship to go to OU. I was a regular Navy midshipman then I served three years in the far east before coming back to law school. I wanted to attend law school and came back to OU.
OU Law Conversations: Robert Barnes
What led you to OU Law? OU Law has been part of my family since the 1920s. My great uncle was Dr. Maurice Merrill, a 1922 graduate of OU Law who then earned a Doctorate in Law from Harvard University in 1925. Merrill taught at OU Law for 30 years, published numerous seminal works in oil and gas law, constitutional law, administrative law and the law of Notice. While still in his twenties, Merrill published the seminal treatise Implied Covenants in Oil and Gas Law, which has been a cornerstone of my cases. In law school, I lived with Uncle Maurice and marveled at his longhand scrawl which was literally final copy in its first draft form. In my mind, he will always be ten times the lawyer that I ever became.