Nina Foucher LAW ’14, described by friends and family as a gentle, thoughtful person, died March 5 in an apparent suicide. She was 25.
Foucher attended the University of Chicago on a full academic scholarship before coming to Yale Law School. As an undergraduate majoring in Fundamentals, a self-study program at UChicago, she was a member of the academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa and studied in Africa and Europe. Her friends and family said they will remember her for her genuine interest in those around her and in the issues she studied.
“Nina’s gentle spirit and radiant smile always brought me joy,” said Sonia Mittal LAW ’13, who was friends with Foucher. “She’s someone who thought deeply about her role as a future lawyer, and as a member of the University community and the New Haven community, and in that way she serves as an inspiration to me.”
Mittal said she met Foucher in their constitutional law class in fall 2010. She was drawn into a conversation with Foucher, who happened to be sitting next to her, and the two quickly made plans and remained friends since.
Sinéad Hunt LAW ’13 said she remembers Foucher in part for her bravery. During the first meeting of their civil procedure course in fall 2010, Hunt said Foucher spoke up to question the “gendered” language of a text students had read — a courageous action that led Hunt to approach Foucher after class, she said.
“Whenever she spoke, she wasn’t just making a flippant remark just for the sake of ‘There’s my class contribution done — tick,’” Hunt said. “She would always speak about something that was close to home to her, something she was invested in, in ways that a lot of people don’t feel comfortable.”
Foucher cared deeply about issues surrounding the legal profession, including accessibility to legal services, her classmates said. Shayak Sarkar LAW ’13 said Foucher was perceptive of the disconnect at Yale Law School “between our noble aspirations to change the world and some of the institutional shortcomings.”
Sarkar added that Foucher cared deeply about the idea of “building justice from below.”
Early last February, Foucher emailed the Law School students’ mailing list soliciting interest in creating a student organization dedicated to “improving legal practice.”
“Some of you hate law school; some love it,” Foucher wrote. “Yet many agree that law school, including Yale, is a self-centered institution that, along with the national and state bar associations, works to protect the current monopoly that lawyers enjoy over legal practice, keeping legal fees exorbitantly high and ultimately preventing many, many people from receiving the legal services that they desperately need.”
Brittani Baxter, one of Foucher’s friends from UChicago, said Foucher remained closely connected to her roots in Chicago’s South Side, adding that she continued to go to church regularly during her time as an undergraduate.
Foucher’s family wrote in an obituary for her funeral service that she was a devout Christian and enjoyed studying the Bible. They wrote that she believed in Jesus because of the way the Bible combined multiple perspectives to ultimately all convey the same message: “Jesus loves us.”
While at Yale, Sarkar said Foucher’s faith led them to have many “interesting” conversations about the role of religious institutions in social justice.
Foucher’s family wrote in the obituary that she volunteered for and donated to charities including Shults-Lewis Child and Family Services, a Christian organization that provides counseling and other assistance to teenagers and families, and Tabitha’s House, an orphanage in Haiti sponsored by the Christian charity Orphan’s Lifeline International, where Foucher donated regularly.
Foucher is survived by her parents, Sherman and Barbara, brothers Daniel and Sherman, and sister Erin.
CORRECTION: March 11, 2012
A previous version of this article incorrectly reported the first name of Nina Foucher’s brother. It is Daniel, not David.