Erika Gustin receives Lardy Award for 2018-19 academic year

Author: Kevin Allen

Erika Gustin

Erika Gustin, 2L, has been selected to receive the Peter A.R. Lardy Scholarship Award for the 2018-19 academic year at Notre Dame Law School.

Carrying on in the tradition of past Lardy Award recipients, Gustin has devoted her time and talent in law school to public service.

She has been instrumental in organizing the Exoneration Project at Notre Dame Law School and in building a student-run digital media startup, Impowerus, which offers an online platform to connect immigrant youths with pro bono legal services.

Coincidentally, Gustin has worked with the two previous Lardy recipients on both projects – Tia B. Paulette on the Exoneration Project and Carlos Cisneros Vilchis on Impowerus.

“I have great respect for the contributions Erika has made to the Law School and the greater good during her time with us,” said Nell Jessup Newton, Professor of Law and Joseph A. Matson Dean of Notre Dame Law School. “This recognition is richly deserved.”

Professor Jimmy Gurulé, who advises the Exoneration Project, said, “Between her work with the Exoneration Project and Impowerus, Erika has demonstrated that she is truly a ‘Different Kind of Lawyer.’ She is a passionate and tireless advocate for social justice and fully deserving of the Lardy Award.”

The Class of 1975 established the scholarship to honor their classmate Peter A.R. Lardy, who died of cancer during his third year of law school. The award, which includes a substantial tuition remission for the recipient’s third year of law school, is dedicated “to those who exemplify his courage, love, and understanding toward his fellow man.” It has been awarded each year since 1976.

Gustin said she was blown away when she heard that she had been selected to receive the scholarship. Borrowing a quote from comedian Steve Martin, she explained that she is fundamentally shy and still feels slightly embarrassed at disproportionate attention.

“I don’t seek to help others because I’m looking for recognition or thanks, and for that I’m grateful I was raised in a Catholic tradition that emphasized the importance of good works,” she said. “I help others because life is short, and we ought to help one another.”

Gustin followed in the footsteps of her mentor, Michael A. Bosco Jr., ’60 J.D., when she came to Notre Dame Law School. Gustin worked as a litigation representative for five years at Tiffany & Bosco P.A. in Phoenix before coming to law school.

“I’ve been here almost two years now and each day that passes reinforces that I made the right decision,” Gustin said. “It’s been a privilege to meet some of the greatest people I’ve ever known and forge lifelong friendships in the process. People talk about ‘alumni networks,’ but Notre Dame adopts you into the family.”

Gustin spent last summer as a judicial extern for the Supreme Court of Hawaii and worked on a task force to reform the state corrections center. This summer, she will return to Hawaii to work on commercial litigation for Carlsmith Ball LLP in Honolulu with Jim Starshak, ’66, ’69 J.D.

“After graduation, I plan to focus in commercial litigation, with a healthy pro bono practice,” Gustin said. “But one of the main reasons I’m looking to practice in Hawaii is because I’ll get to work in diverse areas. It’s an insular market with unique opportunities to shape the legal landscape and where your reputation is the very cornerstone of successful practice.”