After a terrific Section program at the AALS Annual Meeting in cloudy (☹) San Diego earlier this month, your new Section co-Chairs are reinvigorated and ready to dive into our Section work for the coming year. Below you will find some highlights of our Section’s Annual Meeting program and awards ceremony, as well as some important Section events and programs coming up in February that we hope you’ll plan to attend.
We are excited to start a new year and hope to inspire you, our Section members, to stay engaged with the Section and help us build and energize this wonderful community of law school pro bono professionals committed to instilling a pro bono ethic in our law students and increasing access to justice in whatever ways we can. Though our positions may sometimes be undervalued by our institutions, the work we do could not be more important. As our wonderful 2022 Section Chair, Angela Schultz said in her final 2022 Section newsletter:
“Pro bono legal service is a key part of health, safety, and security for our communities. Evictions are avoided. Consumer debt is mitigated. Domestic violence may be prevented. Child support is paid. People find answers and sometimes find closure through pro bono service.”
And, speaking of Angela, we want to thank her for a terrific year of Section leadership. Angela has been a tireless and inspiring leader who, among other accomplishments, established the AALS Pro Bono Honor Roll during her tenure and planned an excellent Annual Meeting program. She did it all with her wonderful sense of humor. Thank you so much, Angela!!!
We cannot express sufficient gratitude to our outgoing Chair, Angela Schultz, for all she did to guide us over the course of the last year. Under her leadership, we changed our Section name, launched the Pro Bono Honor Roll, and continued to connect with Section members all over the country. We are thrilled to welcome our incoming Section leadership and can only hope to continue our dynamic Section’s inspiring work. Many thanks to those continuing their service to the Section and to those who have newly joined in a leadership role!
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 2023
Darcy Meals & Eliza Vorenberg
Georgia State University College of Law; Roger Williams University School of Law
Deborah Schlosberg & Janine Dunlap-Kiah
Berkeley School of Law; Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law
It was great seeing many of you for our Section’s session, Incorporating Access to Justice & Pro Bono Across the Law School Curriculum. The session, moderated by incoming Co-Chair Darcy Meals, offered attendees an array of examples of how to expose students to the realities of the justice gap and the potential power they have to improve the ways in which our legal system might serve lower-income litigants. Jim Sandman, President Emeritus of the Legal Services Corporation and Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Law, shared alarming statistics about the state of access to justice and set the stage for a conversation about the importance of making law students (and faculty) aware of the extent of the need in this country. Stacy Butler, Director of the Innovation for Justice Program at the University of Arizona School of Law, talked about the value of collaborative, multi-disciplinary approaches to making the legal system more user-friendly. Lauren Sudeall, Faculty Director of the Center for Access to Justice at Georgia State University College of Law, outlined her team-taught course, Access to Justice: Law Reform, which gives students a chance to design their own proposals using user-centric principles and best practices in legal design. Finally, Julia Vazquez, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Community Lawyering Clinic at Southwestern Law School, described a collaborative experiential course she taught in conjunction with community partners at both Southwestern and UCLA Law, utilizing technology to help students work with migrants seeking asylum at the border. In each of the courses the panelists described, students gain an understanding of the ways in which the legal system falls short of meeting the needs of lower-income litigants and how students might use their skills to better serve vulnerable populations. Attendees left the session better equipped to weave these important opportunities and principles into their doctrinal classes through court observation, guest speakers, pro bono opportunities, and simulation exercises.
We were also thrilled to honor our three award recipients, each of whom stands out on their campuses and in the legal profession as a leader in promoting access to justice and pro bono service. Their work is inspiring and ongoing, and it was a pleasure to recognize them for all that they do. Congratulations to Russell, Stephen, and Deborah!
Lifetime Achievement Award
Professor of Law & Director of Clinical Programs New England Law, Boston
Access to Justice Award
Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Strategic Initiatives, Director of Innovation and Scholarship Baylor University School of Law
Emerging Leader Award
Director of Pro Bono Programs University of California, Berkeley School of Law
Congratulations again to our inaugural AALS Pro Bono Honor Roll awardees! The Honor Roll acknowledges and highlights the exceptional work of individuals engaging in, expanding, and/or supporting their law school community in providing pro bono legal services.
We were thrilled to feature 58 law schools and nearly 140 individuals on this year’s AALS Pro Bono Honor Roll. Congratulations and thank you for your service! The complete list of honorees is available here: https://www.aals.org/awards/pro-bono/.
The Practising Law Institute (PLI) offers continuing legal education programs on a number of topics relevant to pro bono practice, such as Ethical Issues in Pro Bono Representation; Lawyering from a Trauma-Informed Perspective; Introduction to Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality; and Vulnerable Populations and Immigration Relief, just to name a few. If you work for a 501(c)(3) organization with at least one staff attorney and provide or coordinate direct pro bono service, you may qualify for PLI’s Pro Bono Privileged Membership.