Wendy M. Hernandez ’20 has won the California Lawyers Association Public Law Section’s annual Public Law Writing Competition. Her piece on equitable cannabis regulation, published in the Public Law Journal: Spring 2020, Vol. 43, No. 2 of the California Lawyers Association, earned her a $2,000 prize.
Hernandez competed not just with fellow law students, but lawyers practicing for eight or fewer years. Her article,“Equitable Marijuana Regulation Can Redress the Impacts of the War on Drugs in Black and Brown Communities,” originated as a final paper in her Community Economic Development course, in which she earned the highest grade and a CALI award.
“Having my work recognized is a great feeling, but what matters most to me is tangibly changing the wrongs of the past that persist today,” Hernandez said. “There are so many areas of law that need this critical perspective, but I addressed the legalization of marijuana because we cannot engage in community development without addressing the economic disenfranchisement the War on Drugs created in low-income Black and Latina/o communities.”
A first-generation student, Hernandez earned her bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley in American Studies, with departmental honors. At Berkeley, she was selected as the sole recipient of the 2014 Chancellor’s Mather Good Citizen Award for Public Service, recognizing her activism to address mass incarceration and trailblazing scholarship on intersectional and structural racism as a Berkeley Ronald E. McNair Scholar ’14 and a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow ’13.
At UC Hastings, Hernandez served as 2018-2019 Co-President of La Raza Law Students Association, the first Latina Editor-in-Chief of the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, and a student-mediator in the small-claims department of the San Francisco Superior Court. With the close mentorship of Professor Alina Ball, Hernandez studied corporate law through the lens of critical race theory during her tenure as student-counsel and thereafter as a teaching assistant for the Social Enterprise & Economic Empowerment Clinic. During law school, Hernandez externed for the United States District Court in the Central District of California; for Phillips Black, a nonprofit public interest law firm that challenges severe and extreme criminal sentences; and for the University of California Office of the President, Office of General Counsel.
Hernandez is studying for the California bar exam and plans to join Farella Braun + Martel as a corporate associate to work primarily with tax-exempt organizations.