Claire Vaho joined Baron & Budd’s Pharmaceutical Litigation Group in 2017 out of a wish to help people who have been lied to and hurt by pharmaceutical companies. But it was her experience as a teacher fresh out of college that first ignited a fire within Ms. Vaho to advocate for those less fortunate than she.
After completing her undergraduate work at Louisiana State University in 2009, from which she received a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Ms. Vaho became a high school literature teacher in her hometown of Denver, Colorado. As part of the instruction she provided, Ms. Vaho served as a “reading interventionist”, during which she worked extensively with individual students to help them address specific literacy needs when regular classroom instruction was not sufficient.
In this role, Ms. Vaho realized the positive impact she could have on an individual’s life, as she watched a high school student who was reading several levels below her grade transform herself, with Ms. Vaho’s help, into an eloquent, vibrant and confident young woman who not only gave a top-notch senior address but presented Ms. Vahos with a homemade certificate for having helped improve her reading comprehension so much.
The root of Claire Vahos’ advocacy work stems from an intense yearning to effect positive change in the lives of others. She draws on fond memories from her teaching career to keep the fires of advocacy burning brightly. In a handwritten note penned long ago by one of her middle-school students, Ms. Vahos reads the words: “I’d like to thank you for a few things, but first, for always giving me a chance ”. Ms. Vahos likes to think that her firm but gentle influence helped shaped that student and others like him into responsible, compassionate adults.
After four years as an English, reading and history teacher to high-school and middle-school students, Ms. Vaho sought an avenue toward making even more of a difference in the lives of others. She decided to enroll at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin. While in law school, Ms. Vaho competed on the law school’s Interscholastic Mock Trial Team, where she honed her advocacy skills. In her second year of law school, Ms. Vaho joined the staff of the Texas Journal of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, where she served variously as Associate Editor, Notes Editor and Managing Editor. She participated in the school’s extensive clinical programs, during which she performed legal research and writing, conducted investigations and prepared for hearings on cases as diverse as capital punishment, civil rights and children’s advocacy.
She also spent a summer clerking for the Texas Civil Rights Project, during which she gained valuable experience working on lawsuits brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In her spare time, Claire Vaho volunteers with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, where she and her young match engage in happy, creative activities such as taking painting classes and attending UT football games. Ms. Vaho is an accomplished singer and musician who plays violin and piano and has produced an album of Christmas music for family and friends.
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