Section of the Year Award 2022

Our Section was awarded the “Section of the Year Award” by the AALS for 2022!

Read the acceptance speech that Sue Schechter, Immediate-Past Chair, delivered when receiving the award:

On behalf of the AALS Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities Section, we are honored to accept this award.  We are grateful to the group that selected our section, and congratulate our friends in the Property Law Section, who also won the Award this year.  We accept this Award on behalf of all our members working away at their law schools to move forward on what we all strive for – equal justice for all.

In these scary and trying times, our work instilling and training law students to care about access to justice is even more important.  This year, I had the honor to work with a great group of Section leaders and members and feel like I should be giving you an award for letting me build deeper relationships with these professionals I now call friends and allies.  I want to shout out a few examples of the work these folks are doing:

Angela Schultz, from Marquette, our incoming Chair, organized a remote pro bono programming for last summer – and had 44 students from eight different law schools participating in the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics.

Anna Davis, from UC Irvine, organized a handful of law school collaboration calls where we had 20 or more law school pro bono professionals sharing ideas, stories and resources.

Kelli Neptune from Howard along with Eliza Vorenberg from Roger Williams organized several Educational Enrichment Opportunities where we heard from leading ATJ scholars about their work to keep us inspired and seeing the big picture.

Stephen ​Rispoli from Baylor in partnership with Margaret Hagan in Stanford Law’s Legal Design Lab, has been working​ with​ the ABA’s Free Legal Answers ​(a great project schools can tap into) ​data to determine the most frequently asked questions.  ​Eliza Vorenberg found some RWU students to volunteer on the project and assist with the collection of data and drafting of responses. The Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) that the group creates are then shared with Free Legal Answers administrators around the country to be used as auto-replies when a user submits a question to the project website while awaiting a personalized response from an attorney.

And last but by no means least, Kiva Zytnick​ from Catholic, Columbus School of Law ​- redoing our bylaws and reengineering our Awards with Tonya Jupiter from Tulane to make us more nimble, responsive and inclusive in our internal work.

And we are starting to build our relationship with the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, an important group that law schools should be at the table with.  We are the funnel to the legal profession, and as we all know, if we do not instill and inspire our students to do pro bono work, there is not much hope once they leave our buildings – in person, or virtually.

Thank you again for recognizing our work, and we so appreciate the plaque we received.  We look forward to working with Dean Chemerinsky and all in AALS to promote more ways and resources to support pro bono work across the organization and at our institutions.  

Please reach out to us if your Section wants to think about how it can get involved in pro bono activities – our own, your own, and someone else’s…the need is there, the need is dire, and we can all play a part.  

Thank you and sending you all wishes for safety, well-being and more – onward,

Sue Schechter, accepting the Award on behalf of our Section