SIU Law student named in top 20 law students in the country

By Kitt Fresa, Staff Reporter

Southern Illinois University law student, Victor Feraru has been named one of the top 20 law students in the country by the National Jurist Magazine. The publication reaches an estimated 100 thousand law students.

Feraru’s work includes helping survivors of child abuse and neglect through the State of Illinois’ Children’s Justice Task Force.  He also assists his fellow classmates through developing a student chapter of the Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program, a program that helps those with issues ranging from anxiety to drug and alcohol addiction.

For the third year, the magazine is honoring students who push themselves to help better their law schools, to help better their communities and to help those in need.


This is the second year in a row a law student from SIU has been recognized by the magazine.

Last year Willie Lyles III, a then third-year student received the award.

Each law school in the country is allowed to nominate a person for the award. The nominees are submitted and then reviewed by the magazine.

Christopher Behan, acting dean of the School of Law and professor of law said he was delighted to hear that Feraru had received the award.

Behan said that he and Feraru have developed a mentor-mentee relationship. Feraru has worked as Behan’s research assistant since his first summer at SIU.

“When he came to law school he got very involved in external service and I think has really made a profound difference. There aren’t a whole lot of people who create opportunities for themselves in law school, and Victor’s one, Willie last year was one as well,” Behan said.

Feraru said he felt the award proved to all the people who had taken a chance on him that it paid off. He said the award recognizes all the hard work people do to try and make a positive difference in society.


“The award is nice, but I think it’s more about what that award represents, and it doesn’t just represent me as so much as it represents the people who molded me into who I am,” Feraru said.

Since he was born, Feraru lived in more than 40 foster homes. At one point Feraru was in an adoption process but the couple who was going to adopt him were killed in an accident.  He was later emancipated and a year later he was no longer a ward of the state.

Feraru earned his Bachelor’s in English Writing at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina. There he was a part of student government and a senior writer for the college’s newspaper. Guilford is also where he learned to write, which he considers his strong suit.

At one point Feraru interviewed Matthew Hoh, the highest level state department official to resign in protest of the war in Afghanistan. The two became friends, and the official recommended Feraru as a writer to an editor at the Huffington Post. Later on the editor brought on Feraru to write for the Huffington Post’s blog where Feraru still works as a contributor.

In the fall of 2016, Feraru was appointed to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Children’s Justice Task Force.

The task force is a multidisciplinary, legislatively mandated advisory group comprised of child protection investigators, law enforcement, medical and mental health service providers, judges, attorneys and child advocates.

Feraru said he has been learning a lot from the task force and the prosecutors he works with. The group meets four times a year around the state and makes recommendations to DCFS on policy and practices “directed at improving investigative, prosecution and judicial handling of child abuse cases in a manner that limits additional trauma to the child victim.”

Feraru has also helped developed a student chapter of the Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program at SIU.

“It’s essentially a conduit for people in the [law] profession to reach out and get counseling and resources to help them in situations,” Feraru said.

The assistance program is there to help law students with the intensity of their work. Feraru said the law school is high stress and high paced if you want to succeed.

Clinicians are available through the program and everything is kept entirely confidential. The assistance program sends out their ads for assistance through places like social media and other sources. Students can then come in and the program will set them up with the help they need.

Feraru said after he gets his degree he might work with the government or a private firm doing civil and or criminal matters. No matter what he is doing, Feraru said he’ll always be doing youth advocacy.

“Ultimately no matter what I do, I’ll use a significant amount of time for policies around youth advocacy.”

Feraru said the reason why he gravitates to youth advocacy is because he knows what it’s like to have been there. Feraru also see it as a preventive measure, giving youth the help they need before they get caught up in a life violence, crime or psychological hardship.

“I definitely think that with enough people and enough space and time you can fix the little things, and those little things can go on. That’ll be the difference I make in the world,” Feraru said.

Staff writer Kitt Fresa can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @kittfresa.

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