Law Student of the Year: Nubia Peña, University of Utah

Nubia Peña, currently in her final year as a law student at University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, has impressed her professors with her unwavering commitments to social justice, empowering marginalized communities, and developing new young leaders of color.

“She exhibits all the standard leadership qualities we like to see in fledgling social justice attorneys, including intelligence, thorough, dedicated and exemplifying strong ethics,” said Leah Farrell, staff attorney. “But she also has a warmth, wisdom and inclusive spirit that distinguishes her from more traditional leaders.”

Peña humbly seeks out mentors, even as she works with others as a mentor herself. She willingly calls upon the expertise and insight of others to carefully identify community issues, then immediately sets to work developing and implementing solutions. She strives to strike a delicate balance between bringing her own education and experience to the table, while allowing others with less of both to participate fully in collaborative efforts, as well. 

Peña has been a leader in the community addressing the nation’s escalation of human trafficking, spearheading several events that gather law enforcement, prosecutors, social service providers, and political leaders. 

“We believe that Ms. Peña is an exemplar of the best kind of young leader that can be graduated from a school of law,” Farrell said. “She uses her fledgling legal knowledge and skills to empower and problem solve. She actively seeks opportunities to put her legal skills to work in the real world outside of law school. She is continually aware of her potential to influence and engage others in important work for the betterment of marginalized community members.”

Peña is one of 25 future lawyers honored in the National Jurist’s inaugural “Law Student of the Year” feature.