IIT Chicago-Kent Student Claudia Cortes Receives Diverse Scholars Award from Reed Smith LLP

Claudia Cortes

Claudia Cortes, a second-year student at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, received one of two 2013 Diverse Scholars Awards from Reed Smith LLP.

Reed Smith annually provides $15,000 each to two of the nation’s top law students for their second-year tuition, as well as a paid summer associate position between their second and third years of study. Honorees are selected on the basis of their academic accomplishments and commitments to diversity, inclusion and community.

“Claudia will be among the future leaders of the legal profession,” said Tyree P. Jones, Reed Smith’s global director of diversity & inclusion. “Her commitment to academic excellence, diverse background, and determination to succeed in the face of very formidable challenges and obstacles will serve her and this profession well.”

“Reed Smith is pleased to recognize the accomplishments of these exceptional young professionals along their paths to future career and personal success with a Diverse Scholar Award,” said Jones.

As a high school student, Cortes immigrated to the United States from Mexico, without her parents, in search of education. Despite limited proficiency in English, she excelled academically, enrolling in and graduating with honors from Elmhurst College. She earned a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“After I entered law school as an evening student in 2011, my family, which by then was in the United States, had to face the serious illness of two family members,” said Cortes.

“And, while it has been challenging to work full time, care for my family members, and pursue academic excellence, Reed Smith’s recognition of these experiences through the Diverse Scholars Award only strengthens my resolve to obtain my law degree and pursue a career in a prestigious, diverse global law firm,” she said.

At IIT Chicago-Kent, Cortes is a senior member of the Moot Court Honor Society and a member of the Chicago-Kent Law Review. She has won a Ralph L. Brill Award for Best Brief in the 2012 Ilana Diamond Rovner Appellate Advocacy Competition. Cortes was a member of the IIT Chicago-Kent team that won the award for the third-best brief in the 2013 Appellate Lawyers Association National Moot Court Competition. She currently serves as a law clerk at the United States Railroad Retirement Board.

Reed Smith is a global law firm, with 25 offices and more than 1,800 lawyers in offices across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States. Reed Smith’s Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, of which the Diverse Scholars Award is an integral part, embodies the firm’s core values of integrity, quality, teamwork and respect, performance, innovation and improvement. The firm recognizes that diversity at all levels is a sign of the success of a successful enterprise.

This event reflects the values expressed in IIT’s Diversity Statement and is intended to promote diversity at IIT.