Achievements realized and those yet to come will be celebrated as students of color at SUNY Buffalo Law School gather for their annual dinner.
The Students of Color Dinner, a longtime tradition as the academic year draws to a close, will be held April 23 at the Buffalo Niagara Marriott. Highlight of the evening will be an address by keynote speaker Michael A. Battle ’81, a former judge, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, and then Director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, where he had administrative oversight of all 93 United States Attorneys and served as liaison between the United States Attorneys and the Justice Department and other federal agencies. He now practices commercial and civil litigation with the New York City firm Schlam Stone & Dolan.
The dinner is a collaboration of the Student Bar Association, the student governance organization of the Law School, and the school’s minority-student organizations, including the Latin American Law Students Association, the Black Law Students Association and the Asian-Pacific American Law Students Association. The co-chairs are Yineska Guerrero ‘15, of LALSA, and Nara Tjitradjaja ‘16, a class representative to SBA. “A lot goes into this event. It’s pretty time-consuming,” says Tjitradjaja.
At the dinner, the students traditionally honor SUNY Buffalo Law alumni who have made significant accomplishments in their legal careers. “You meet all these wonderful people in law school and make so many connections, and it’s a wonderful network. We had a pretty good pool from which to select our honorees,” Tjitradjaja says.
This year’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are Hon. Hugh B. Scott ’74 and Susan Y. Soong ’94. The Trailblazer Award, given to an alumnus who graduated more recently, will be given to Jason J. Almonte ’07.
Scott is a magistrate judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. He was the first African-American to become assistant attorney general in charge in Western New York, and was elected to the Buffalo City Court at age 32. He is the first African-American to sit on the federal bench in the Western District.
Soong is the chief deputy clerk with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. Among her accomplishments is work on the court’s transition to an electronic filing system. Previously, Soong worked in the court’s motions attorney unit and the criminal and civil research attorney units.
Almonte is a manager in the advisory services practice of the audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG, with expertise in risk management matters involving financial institutions. Previously, he worked with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in its chief counsel’s office, the Northeastern District counsel’s office and the Southern District counsel’s office.
The graduating class will also honor Professor Rick Su with the Jacob D. Hyman Professor Award, citing his dedication to the advancement of minority students in the legal profession. Su, a specialist in immigration law and local government law, joined the SUNY Buffalo Law School faculty in 2007.
Faculty, staff and alumni of SUNY Buffalo Law who were recognized March 30 in New York City by the New York Law Journal, whose Diversity Initiative Project 2015 recognizes commitment to creating a diverse legal community and sustained efforts to reach that goal. SUNY Buffalo is the only law school so honored.