Virginia “Ginny” Greer, a third-year student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, was named Bowen Fellow of the Year at the 2021 Bowen Award this past March.
She grew up in the Leawood area of Little Rock and went to high school at Little Rock Central High. While at Central, her involvement in The Memory Project–helping collect memories from elderly members of the neighborhood about the civil rights movement and other pivotal historical events—spurred her interest in history. She majored in that subject at Hendrix College. Her minor is in politics.
However, it was a more personal history that made Greer decide to study law.
“As a person with cerebral palsy, I learned about the Americans with Disabilities Act and the rights that were available to me as a student and a member of society later than I should have,” she said. “Discovering what I didn’t know and had never known made me passionate about becoming an advocate for others.”
She chose Bowen because she wanted to give back to her hometown, and Bowen’s emphasis on public service provided her with opportunities to do so. Students volunteer during First Week orientation, and that continues throughout their education, from student organization fundraisers through experiential learning courses in the legal clinic.
“The focus on giving back while we’re learning is so attuned with what I was hoping for in my legal education.”
Greer’s commitment to public service was one of the reasons she was selected as a Fendler Fellow at the end of the Spring 2022 semester. Bowen Professor Emerita Frances Fendler established the Fellowship in honor of her parents. Through the Fellowship, Arkansas Access to Justice in partnership with the Rose Law Firm sponsors law students each year in expanding access to justice through research, educating the legal community in Arkansas, and making it easier for citizens to represent themselves.
The project involved the Justice Index, which examines the areas of vulnerability within the justice system in Arkansas, where the system may have broken down for marginalized communities. Ginny’s focus was on the Disability Index. She researched areas where the legal system can better represent and/or accommodate citizens with disabilities both inside and outside the courthouse.
Greer has given back to Bowen as well by serving as a Bowen Fellow. These upper-level students are selected based on their academic success and leadership qualities. They assist first-year law students during the first semester of law school by facilitating group meetings focused on specific first-year courses. Meetings cover everything from study skills to stress management.
“My primary objective was to create a safe space where students could come every week. Where they could be honest about how they were feeling and seek respite through me and through one another,” she said.
Greer decided to apply because of her experience with the fellow who assisted her.
“Starting law school during a pandemic was overwhelming. Monica Spier, my fellow, was a consistent source of support and sanity in the middle of that chaos,” she said. “She made a difference in my ability to thrive during my first year, and I wanted to pay that forward for the next generation of Bowen students.”
Greer served as a Property Fellow, which was a good fit because property was one of her favorite courses. She ties it to her background in history and how she learned that there is more than one way to study history.
“The ownership of land tells a story,” she explained. “I thought property would be one of my worst subjects, so I was surprised how much I liked it. It’s taught me to keep an open mind.”
More than helping students learn the subject, she loved seeing the first-year students develop competency and gain self-confidence as they went into exams.
Greer’s dedication to her fellow students and developing their self-confidence resulted in her being named Bowen Fellow of the Year for 2021. She received the award at the Bowen Awards in March 2022.
Her involvement with the program will continue this fall, when she will serve as the manager of the Bowen Fellows program. As the manager, Greer will help facilitate the resources fellows need to succeed in their mission to assist students. She will also act as a sounding board for any issues fellows encounter and help them find ways to help their students. She’s already planning mental health focused events for the incoming class.
That’s not the only thing she’s is looking forward to in the fall semester. She and her fiancé, Dylan, are getting married in October.
Then, in spring 2023, she’ll be returning to clerk with The Sanford Law firm. She clerked for the firm in spring 2022, and is looking forward to going back and taking her lessons from the summer with her. After that it’s graduation.
It’s not all work and wedding planning for Greer. In her free time, she loves hiking and camping. Her favorite place to hike is Cadron Creek in Greenbrier.
“It’s so peaceful, and there’s this beautiful waterfall at the end of it,” she explained. “It’s a narrow and difficult hike, but the end makes it worth it. Arkansas is such a beautiful state, and it’s one reason I chose to stay here.”
As she looks at her future career, Greer is still focused on her hometown and her community. She wants to continue giving back to people with disabilities in Arkansas and ensuring they have protections in school and in the workforce.
“Little Rock has nurtured me so much during my life that I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather invest.”