May 31, 2022

Professor Lisa Benjamin is the 2022 Leo Levenson Award recipient

Akriti Bhargava ’22 presented the coveted Leo Levenson Award for excellence in teaching to Professor Lisa Benjamin on behalf of the graduating class.

On May 21, under sunny skies at the 2022 law school commencement ceremony, Professor Lisa Benjamin was announced as the Leo Levenson Award recipient.

The graduating class votes to select the Leo Levenson Award each year, honoring a full-time professor whose teaching has had a particular impact on the class.

Akriti Bhargava ’22 presented the award on behalf of her class. She highlighted Professor Benjamin’s accomplishments, particularly her international work as a member of the United Nations FCC Compliance Committee, her scholarly work in climate change and corporate responsibility, and her vast experience in how climate law intersects with industry and corporations, people and societies, and governments and agencies.

“It is more than just her doctrinal teaching that has had a significant impact on our class,” Akriti said. “Her lived experiences, and the lessons she teaches us through that, gives us, as young lawyers, a much more nuanced understanding of the impact our work could have on a global level, especially about socio-economic justice.”

Akriti also spoke as Professor Benjamin’s mentee. “The most valuable part of Professor Benjamin’s mentorship is her ability to bring light to the promise we each show as lawyers of the future. This award is a testament to the tireless work Professor Benjamin does to affirm and make better the experience of law school for so many students.“

Professor Benjamin spoke of the honor in receiving this award. “This is hands down the most important and meaningful award I have ever received in my career.” She noted that, because 2019 was her first year as a faculty member at Lewis & Clark, “it is all the more meaningful because my career here has mirrored (the graduating class’) time here.”

She spoke of the future promise of her students, “I am often asked in my field: what makes you hopeful about climate change? My answer, always, is you. My students. Your generation has the passion, empathy and perseverance to make things better, to make them right, and you inspire me daily.”

Leo Levenson (1903–1981), for whom this award is named, was a distinguished attorney, Oregon State Bar member, and highly respected instructor who taught at the law school for many years.