Created in 1993 to honor one of the early champions of civil rights law, the Minsky award is given annually to a young lawyer for outstanding contributions to immigration and nationality law.
“This is an incredible honor and well deserved by Michelle,” said Professor Maureen Sweeney, who taught Mendez in Maryland Carey Law’s Immigration Clinic. “Michelle has done amazing work in her still short career, including setting up a pro bono representation program for women and children who have fled Central American violence and are being detained in Dilley, Texas.”
Mendez’s legal education and professional career have focused on public interest law. In law school, she worked as a legal intern at CASA de Maryland, Inc., and interned at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica. Upon graduating, she received the William P. Cunningham Award for Exceptional Achievement and Service, as well as the Maryland Public Interest Law Project’s Student Pro Bono Award.
In addition to the AILA award, Mendez has won a Rotary Peace Fellowship to study conflict resolution at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. In 2014, she also was named to the Daily Record’s “Very Important Professionals List - 40 Under 40.”
AILA was established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and enhance the professional development of its members.