This article appeared in Headnotes December 2020
It was with great pleasure that Dallas Bar Foundation Chair, Kim Askew of DLA Piper LLP,
announced the establishment of the Chief Justice Carolyn Wright Internship at the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas. The newly established internship represents a legacy of excellence, justice and diversity epitomized by Chief Justice Carolyn Wright’s career. When making the announcement, Ms. Askew thanked Chief Justice Wright for having served as a mentor for over 20 years to the Dallas Bar Foundation Collins Clerks who were selected for placement at the Court of Appeals each summer. Starting in 2020, the annual six-week internship for a 2L student is now named in Chief Justice Wright’s honor. The Dallas Bar Foundation had hoped to share this news at the Fellows Luncheon in October 2020 which was postponed until May 2021.
In response to the announcement, Chief Justice Wright thanked the Trustees of the Dallas Bar Foundation for this honor. She spoke about how meaningful this internship was to her on a personal level and the importance of having a pipeline for diversity in the legal profession.
Chief Justice Wright received her Juris Doctor degree at Howard University from which she later received a Distinguished Alumni award. She was the first African American woman in Dallas to win a county-wide election when she became Judge of the 256th District Court of Texas. In 1995, she was appointed as an associate justice to the Fifth District Court of Appeals by Governor George Bush. When Chief Justice Wright was sworn in as the Chief Justice of the Fifth District Court of Appeals on January 4, 2010, she became the first African American in Texas to become chief justice of an intermediate appellate court in Texas.
Sean Hamada of Hamada Smith, PLLC, and a Dallas Bar Foundation trustee, announced the selection of Natalie Wise, 2L UNT Dallas College of Law, as the first recipient of the Chief Justice Carolyn Wright Internship. Serving with Mr. Hamada on the interview committee were Victor Corpuz, Jackson Lewis PC; Gabe Vazquez, Vistra Corp; Laura Benitez Geisler, Sommerman, McCaffity, Quesada & Geisler, L.L.P.; and Steve Bolden, Bracewell LLP.
Mr. Hamada remarked that Ms. Wise was selected for this internship, in part, because of her love of legal writing as demonstrated by her initiative in taking an additional semester in legal writing in which she excelled. She also received the award, Best Brief, at the Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition and was named a semi-finalist for Best Brief at the Thompson & Knight Moot Court Competition.
Mr. Hamada recognized and thanked Justice Erin Nowell, Fifth District Court of Appeals, for mentoring Ms. Wise this summer and for agreeing to follow in the tradition of Chief Justice Wright by accepting a 2L student each summer who will be selected by the Dallas Bar Foundation for the Chief Justice Wright Internship. Mr. Hamada commented that Justice Nowell made the internship especially meaningful for Ms. Wise by providing a learning environment where Ms. Wise received affirmation of her strengths while gaining valuable experience.
The Dallas Bar Foundation will continue to accept contributions for the Chief Justice Carolyn Wright Internship with the goal to fully endow the internship so that it can be awarded in perpetuity, beyond the initial ten years. Please contact Elizabeth Philipp, Executive Director, at the Dallas Bar Foundation at (214) 220-7400 or email@example.com for information.