Martinez (J.D. ’09) and Nguyen (J.D. ’09) Recognized with Law and Justice Awards
In November, the Women Works Media Group named Ana Maria Martinez (J.D. ’09) and Phi Nguyen (J.D. ’09) as 2017 Law & Justice Women of the Year Honorees. The award recognizes the Georgia State Law alumnae’s devotion to public interest and the high level of professionalism and integrity they’ve exhibited in their careers.
Nguyen, litigation director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, focuses on impact litigation in the areas of voting rights and immigrant rights. She also works collaboratively with Southern Poverty Law Center and other advocacy organizations to provide direct support to immigrants detained at Stewart Detention Center.
Outside of her legal work, Nguyen leads efforts to politically educate and engage Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters. In 2016, she spearheaded Vietnamese Voices, an initiative to increase voter outreach and education among Atlanta’s Vietnamese-American community. She also co-produces Wake Up, Atlanta, an original web series dedicated to helping the AAPI electorate navigate politics.
“Being recognized for my public interest work was an honor. Asian-American lawyers are not often steered in the direction of public interest law either by our parents or our communities. Instead, we are generally encouraged to pursue big law jobs and in-house counsel positions. I hope that my own story helps to change that narrative,” Nguyen said.
Martinez is staff attorney for Judge Dax E. López in the State Court of DeKalb County. Prior to joining DeKalb State Court, she worked as a civil defense litigator in the areas of consumer warranty, premises liability, products liability, general personal injury defense, and employment law. She co-founded and is president of the Georgia Latino Law Foundation (GLLF), an organization dedicated to increasing diversity in the legal profession and the Latino community’s access to the legal system.
“Before the GLLF, there was no one really doing any intentional and substantive work in this area in Georgia, so we are truly really fulfilling a need,” Martinez said. “Public service is important to me because I believe we all have an obligation to reach back and pull forward those who come after us. Ultimately, the best way to elevate our profession is to make sure we are taking care of all of our members.”
Martinez credits her experience at Georgia State Law for encouraging her to become active in public service.
“I appreciated that Georgia State Law had such diverse student population, as well as professors who were not merely academics, but still practice law. The exposure to both of these helped instill an understanding that the law does not exist in a vacuum, but that it really does affect every area of our lives regardless of class or socio-economic status,” she said.
Martinez was humbled to be named among those honored.
“The honorees are pace-setters in the legal community and have incredible reputations for their work in the community,” she said. “I’m also grateful that our work at the GLLF is being noticed, because our team works hard, and this award is a testament to that. Perhaps, we really are making in impact on people’s lives and that is the best motivation to keep working hard at it.”