Renee Stromski ’21 has a passion for serving others that she has demonstrated throughout her time in law school, both on campus and throughout the community. For her outstanding work using her legal education as a force for good that embodies the CSU Cleveland-Marshall College of Law slogan of “Learn Law. Live Justice.”, Renee was selected as the 2021 recipient of the Dean’s Learn Law. Live Justice Award.
Each year, a graduating student receives the Dean’s Learn Law. Live Justice Award by not only achieving academic success, but also by demonstrating what it means to live justice ─ being committed to making clients’ lives better and the community stronger. Renee was nominated for the award by members of the CSU C|M|LAW faculty and staff.
“I am so thrilled to be named the Learn Law. Live Justice. award recipient and am extremely honored to be joining a group of distinguished alumni that have also received this award,” said Stromski. “’Living Justice’ can mean a lot of different things, but I see it as being open. It means keeping your ears and eyes open for signs of injustice within the community. It means keeping your mind open to conflicting opinions and learning new ideas. It means keeping your research tabs and books open to learning more about the country’s history of systemic racism and oppression of minority communities. Most of all, I believe it means keeping your heart open to accepting others and practicing compassion and empathy.”
Renee’s longtime objective has been serving the community. Prior to attending law school, she earned a Master of Social Work degree from Nazareth College. While completing a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities Fellowship as a social work student working with children with disabilities, Renee realized she wanted to take an active role in ensuring her clients achieved an equitable and just lifestyle within the community. She determined that attending law school would allow her to become the best advocate for populations whose voices are often ignored.
After discussions with Dean Lee Fisher, Renee decided that CSU C|M|LAW would be the perfect law school for developing her leadership and advocacy skills along with providing a foundation to learn the law. She enrolled at the school as a participant in the Dean’s Leadership Fellows Program.
From the moment Renee stepped on the CSU C|M|LAW campus, she demonstrated her leadership and commitment to helping underserved communities. In her first year, Renee organized CSU C|M|LAW’s first “Spread the Word” Day, part of a national campaign sponsored by the Special Olympics Committee to promote inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in local communities. She has since made “Spread the Word” Day an annual tradition at the school.
Renee wanted to join a public interest student organization upon entering law school but learned the Student Public Interest Law Organization (SPILO) had been inactive for nearly a decade. She decided that she would revive the organization so that students like herself who were interested in public interest law could have a place to come together and learn new ways to serve the community. As President of the revitalized SPILO, Renee has organized several events including National Homeless and Hunger Awareness Week. This year, the organization hosted its first fundraiser and will use the funds to set up an endowment with the law school to provide fellowships to students who are completing volunteer internships related to public interest and social justice.
Renee considers her most impactful initiative during her time at the law school to be the petition she organized to convert two single-sex basement restrooms into gender-neutral restrooms at the law school that has come to fruition.
Renee managed to be involved in several other organizations and initiatives during her time in law school. She has served as Vice President of OUTLaw, Executive Symposium Editor of the Global Business Law Review, a Student Representative for Equal Justice Works and as a Student Bar Association Senator. She is an active member of the Law School Name Committee and the school’s Public Action Work Group on the Racial Justice Task Force. Renee was also a Research Assistant for Professor Doron Kalir, reviewing Supreme Court briefs and researching statutory interpretation cases for an article on a now successful LGBTQ+ employment discrimination case.
Renee has also put her legal education to use in a number of engaged learning opportunities. She has interned with the City of Lakewood Law Department and with Babinski Law, a law firm that provides legal representation and advocacy for students and families with special education needs. She worked on several projects with Equality Ohio, a non-profit organization that advocates and educates to achieve fair treatment and equal opportunity for the LGBTQ+ community, while participating in CSU C|M|LAW’s Community Advocacy Clinic.
Renee received the school’s Max I. Kohrman Public Service Fellowship for a summer externship with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. During that externship, she received training in various areas of discrimination, including on the basis of race, gender, sex, ability, and national origin, that really helped shape her passion for civil rights advocacy for student populations.
Renee’s public interest work was also recognized in 2020, when she was one of eight law students selected for an Equal Justice Works Regional Public Interest Award.
“My different legal work experiences helped shape my passionate commitment to addressing the legal needs of the minority and marginalized groups in the community,” explained Stromski. “I hope to help disadvantaged populations and communities in a more powerful way by continuing to pursue a public interest law career.”
Renee is dedicated to pursuing a career in public interest law and is particularly drawn to special education law. After taking the Bar Examination, she will participate in a Post-Graduate Public Service Fellow, having been selected for the Marilyn Tobocman Equal Access to Justice Award. As part of the fellowship, he will complete 200 hours of volunteer work with a non-governmental organization in Savannah, GA, while seeking permanent employment advocating for community members facing discrimination.