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Rhode and Drinan Award Recipients


Each year, the AALS Section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities recognizes two outstanding law school professionals who have dedicated themselves towards increasing access to justice through the law school environment and inspiring similar efforts from others. The Deborah L. Rhode Award is awarded to a full-time faculty member or Dean who has made an outstanding contribution to increasing pro bono and public service opportunities in law schools through scholarship, leadership, or service. The Father Robert Drinan Award is presented to a full-time faculty or staff member at a law school who has forwarded the ethic of pro bono service through personal service, program design, or management.

This year, the Section is thrilled to honor Dean Erwin Chemerinksy with the Rhode Award and Pamela DeFanti Robinson with the Drinan Award.

 Rhode Award

Erwin Chemerinsky is Dean of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. Prior to his position at Berkeley, Dean Chemerinsky taught at University of Southern California Gould School of Law and DePaul University College of Law, as well as served as a visiting professor at UCLA School of Law and Duke University School of Law, before becoming a tenured professor at Duke. In 2008, he was hired to start University of California, Irvine School of Law. Throughout the establishment and early years of running the law school, Dean Chemerinsky was instrumental in creating a culture of pro bono service. Thanks to Dean Chemerinsky, UCI Law now has one of the most robust pro bono programs in the country.

Dean Chemerinsky’s support of pro bono and public service in the law school setting is extraordinary. As Dean, he stresses the importance of pro bono and public service before students even arrive at Berkeley, telling them “if you are not interested in doing pro bono or public service work, do not come to this law school.” He expects every student to engage in pro bono every year. And he puts money where his mouth is by prioritizing the school’s pro bono and public interest programs. Upon arriving at Berkeley, he made the Pro Bono Program Director a full-time position. He has strengthened the school’s summer funding program and ensured that every 1L is awarded $5,000 for summer public interest work, and every 2L student who received a grant their first summer may receive $6,000 their second summer. He has also increased funding for post-grad public interest fellowships to $55,000 and created a travel fund for students to attend public interest career fairs and interviews—despite budget deficits in the wake of COVID-19.

Dean Chemerinksy is not only a well-known legal scholar and advocate, he is also a treasured classroom teacher. He exposes students to public interest ideals and then provides experiential opportunities throughout law school for them to develop the tools to carry those ideals forward. He engages in significant pro bono work himself and includes students in these efforts. In the words of a former student, “I can think of no one who embodies Berkeley Law’s public service mission like Dean Erwin Chemerinsky.” Many others agree, reiterating “It is impossible to imagine a Dean being more supportive of pro bono.”

Last but not least, Dean Chemerinsky is a true ‘mensch’—humble, sincere, honorable, and kind.

Drinan Award

Pamela Robinson has been the Director of the University of South Carolina School of Law Pro Bono Program since she founded it thirty-one years ago as the nation’s first voluntary pro bono law school program. She is a visionary, a leader, and a counselor to countless students and peers. Her lifetime of achievement forwarding the ethic of pro bono service is unparalleled.

Throughout the University of South Carolina School of Law Pro Bono Program’s history, Pam has established a number of pro bono projects that have provided significant hands-on experience for law students and greatly benefited the community. She nurtures projects over the years while also constantly embracing change, ensuring the Program remains relevant for students and the community. Her latest innovation is the Palmetto LEADER—aka a “justice bus.” A few years ago, Pam had the idea to create a bus that would provide much needed legal services to rural South Carolina communities. In particular, Pam wanted those communities to have access to pro bono assistance for creating simple wills. And once Pam has a plan, according to her students, “she is unstoppable.” She found funding, figured out everything else the bus would need, and now it is on its way to serving South Carolinians. (Editor’s note: see the article in this newsletter about Pam’s bus for more information and pictures!)

Pam is a role model for her law students and pro bono professionals nationwide. She participates in all the Pro Bono Program’s projects alongside her students and she also engages in public service outside of the Program. For example, she has been a Court Appointed Special Advocate since 1988, and she also arranged for the county to conduct guardian ad litem training at the law school, successfully training many law students. Over the last three-plus decades she has relentlessly worked to improve access to justice throughout South Carolina. As Betsy Goodale, Director of the South Carolina Bar’s Pro Bono Program, noted, she is “one of the most—if not the most—well-respected and well-informed pro bono advocates and practitioners in the State of South Carolina.” She is also a leader in countless associations and organizations, including the AALS.

Pam always makes time to help you, whether you are a client, student, or colleague. She consistently demonstrates compassion and empathy. Regardless of what career path they choose, “[i]t is a rare alumnus of the University of South Carolina School of Law’s Pro Bono Program who does not credit Pam with providing crucial guidance during law school and beyond,” said Goodale.

The Rhode and Drinan Awards will be presented virtually on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, at 12:15 PM. Professor Deborah Rhode will be presenting the Rhode Award to Dean Chemerinsky. Pamela Robinson will receive the Drinan Award from William Hubbard, Dean of The University of South Carolina School of Law.

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The Palmetto LEADER (Legal Advocacy and Education Resources)

University of South Carolina School of Law’s fully operational mobile law office.


University of South Carolina Law School Dean Robert Wilcox had a big donation coming, so he asked for a big idea. The one he got is 43 feet long — and is on its way.

The big idea belonged to the school’s pro bono program director, Pamela Robinson: Why not have a bus that takes legal help out to the parts of the state where they have little or no resources.

So the USC School of Law will receive a fully outfitted bus designed as a mobile office.

Why? The Palmetto LEADER will provide legal advocacy and
education resources to the rural, underserved populations in SC.
This expands the ability of the law school to serve the state while
increasing opportunities for law students to gain valuable hands-on
experience and skills development.

Who? …will provide these services? The core service providers
will be law students from our Pro Bono Program and Clinical
Department working with attorneys from the SC Bar Pro Bono
Program.

Where?… will the bus go? Our goal is to reach out to low-income
rural communities with limited access to legal services. The
Palmetto LEADER is fully equipped with wifi and internet access;
increasing the availability of online resources.

How? The Palmetto LEADER has become a reality due to not
only a generous donation but also the wisdom of that donor who
sought a project that “provided further dimension and depth to
the experiences” available to law students.

For more information, news or to sign up to join us:
www.PalmettoLEADER.sc.edu or
https://palmettoleader.org

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Interview of Tom Schoenherr


Asst. Dean Tom Shoenherr recently retired after 25 years at Fordham Law.

During his tenure at Fordham Law, he founded the Public Interest Resource Center and advised countless students about their pro bono careers and opportunities. But there is so much more to his story! Earlier this year in the summer, Stephen Rispoli and Jen Tschirch sat down (virtually) with Tom to discuss life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and pro bono service.

You can watch the video (and/or read the interview transcripts) here: https://baylor.box.com/s/f0esq6gabj28e1w8p1up1xx4ycc8lmpu

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Book Review: Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

By Monique W. Morris – Reviewed by Eve Ross*

Cover of PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique W. Morris.

New York; London: The New Press, 2018. 304p. $17.43, paperback. Also available as e-book or e-audiobook. Find it at a local library through worldcat.org. If purchased through bookshop.org, sales support independent bookstores.

Monique W. Morris, co-founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, has written the first book for a general readership demonstrating how Black girls are wrongly perceived and unjustly treated by authority figures starting in school and ending in police, court, and detention systems.

Morris provides detailed insight into the lives and education environments of specific Black girls. The girls’ narratives are interwoven with statistics showing how often similar patterns are replicated across the US.

Morris recommends a multifaceted approach—more than changes of law and policy alone—to center the experience of Black girls, increase cultural competence and gender responsiveness, and make the education of Black girls the nurturing and uplifting experience that the adults in charge should provide.

Appendix A provides straightforward answers to questions that Black girls, their families, and their teachers are likely to have. Appendix B discusses alternatives to punishment, including positive behavioral intervention systems and restorative justice.

*Eve Ross, 2020. Reference Librarian, Law Library, University of South Carolina School of Law, Columbia, South Carolina.

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Call for Nominations – Deborah L. Rhode & Father Robert Drinan Awards

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS – DEADLINE AUGUST 24, 2020

Please consider nominating a law school faculty member, Dean, staff member – or yourself! – to be recognized for their pro bono contributions.

The AALS Section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities will present two awards at the AALS An­nual Meeting in January 2021. The purpose of these awards is to honor those who have dedicated significant efforts toward increasing access to justice through the law school environment and to inspire similar efforts from others. The intent is to honor those who personally design and manage pro bono programs, those leaders in legal education who promote these programs, and those who personally give of their time and talents in pro bono service.


Nominations are due August 24.

The Deborah L. Rhode Award will be awarded to a full-time faculty member or Dean who has made an outstanding contribution to increasing pro bono and public service in the law school setting through scholar­ship, leadership, or service.

The Father Robert Drinan Award will be presented to a professional faculty or staff member at a law school who has forwarded the ethic of pro bono service through personal service, program design or management.


NOMINATION GUIDANCE

  • Nomination deadline is August 24, 2020
  • Nominations of others or oneself may be made by any member of AALS.
    • Re-nomination of persons who have been previously nominated but not selected is encouraged.
    • See list below of prior awardees.
  • Email a nomination letter (no longer than 5 pages) to Kiva Zytnick, Secretary of the AALS Section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities, at [email protected]. Nomination letters may be accompanied by no more than three letters of support.
    • Please use a descriptive subject line such as “Nomination of xxx by xxx for the Rhode Award,” or “Letter of support for nomination of xxx for Father Drinan Award from xxx.”
    • Optimally the nomination and letters of support will be submitted together as one PDF.
  • Contact Kiva [email protected] with questions.

Thank you from the Awards Selection Subcommittee!

Sande Buhai (Chair, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles); Susan B. Schechter (Chair-Elect, University of California, Berkeley School of Law); Kiva K. Zytnick (Secretary, The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law); Kelli Neptune (Howard University School of Law); Gregory Zlotnick (St. Mary’s University School of Law)


AALS Section on Pro Bono and Public Service OpportunitiesRecipients of Deborah L. Rhode and Fr. Robert Drinan Awards

2001: Deborah Rhode (Stanford) and Father Robert Drinan (Georgetown)

2002: Vanessa Merton (Pace) and John Kramer (Georgetown)

2003: John Feerick (Fordham) and Thomas Maligno (Touro)

2004: Howard Lesnick (Pennsylvania) and Sudha Shetty (Minnesota)

2005: Mark Sargent (Villanova) and Ellen Chapnick (Columbia) & Sandy Buhai (Loyola-LA) (shared)

2006: Efren Rivera Ramos (Puerto Rico) and Wally Mlyniec (Georgetown)

2007: David Kairys (Temple) and Anthony Alfieri (Miami)

2008: Philip G. Schrag (Georgetown) and Michael Millemann (Maryland)

2009: Katherine “Shelley” Broderick (UDC) andEve Biskind-Klothen (Rutgers-Camden)

2010: David Logan (Roger Williams) and Fred Rooney (CUNY)

2011: Linda Morton (Cal Western) and Peter Knapp (William Mitchell)  

2012: Claudio Grossman (AUWCL) and Christine Smith (UNLV)

2013: Douglas Blaze (TN) and Sandy Ogilvy (Catholic)

2014: Matthew Diller (Cardozo) and Linda McGuire (Iowa)

2015: Gerald Lopez (UCLA) and William P. Quigley (Loyola, New Orleans)

2016: Jim Rosenblatt (Mississippi College of Law) and Janet Weinstein (California Western School of Law)

2017: Jennifer Gundlach (Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University) and Paolo Annino (Florida State University College of Law)

2018: Angela Drake (University of Missouri School of Law) and Thomas Schoenherr, (Fordham University School of Law)

2019: Vivian Neptune-Rivera (University of Puerto Rico School of Law) and Louis Rulli (University of Pennsylvania Law School)

2020: Aviam Soifer (University of Hawaii, William S. Richardson School of Law) and Laurie Barron (Roger Williams University School of Law)

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MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR – JUNE, 2020

Dear Pro Bono and Public Interest Section Members,

I am exceptionally pleased to be the Chair of the Section this year, although I could have wished for a more normal environment. For those of you who don’t know me – or have forgotten – I am Clinical Professor and Director of the Public Interest Department at LMU Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. I have been doing this job forever, or at least since 1994 when we started our mandatory pro bono program. In the more than 25 years since, I have had the great pleasure of working with many amazing folks around the country and look forward to continuing to do so.

I know we are all struggling with the reality of COVID 19 – as I write this from home with my kids playing Animal Crossing (a very cute video game) and my dogs happy as can be with everyone home. Many of us were looking forward to seeing each other, either at Externships 10, the Equal Justice Conference, or the AALS Clinical Conference, but I hope we can still manage to reach out to each other remotely. In California, we are fortunate to have Michael Winn at Stanford who sets up a monthly call for folks working in the Pro Bono and Public Service arena.

As for section news, the amazing Sue Schechter is planning a great program for the AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco (keep your fingers crossed) and has also started a conversation about the goals and future of the section. We will still be giving our two awards, the Drinan and Rhode awards, so keep your eyes out for notices about the award process. The members of the Executive Committee and many other members of the section have always been extremely generous with their time, advice and judgment. As we struggle to make sure our students can safely participate in and complete pro bono projects, I encourage you to reach out to other members of the Section should you need any help.

Also, the ABA is coordinating some pro bono efforts. In support of these efforts, over 300 law students, paralegals, and student paralegals have offered to provide remote pro-bono support for COVID-related matters. These students stand ready to provide research, drafting, and other support to attorneys. If attorneys are interested in receiving student support on their COVID-19 related matters, they should fill out this form. If students are interested in providing support, they should fill out this form. Questions and concerns can be directed to Alyssa Leader ([email protected]), a student helping to coordinate this pro bono effort.

Finally, I am inspired by the people working to help every day during this crisis — from the law students and legal service providers who are helping the communities and people most traumatically affected by COVID-19 to all the health care workers, grocery store clerks and regular folks coming together to keep their communities going. Our section also joins others to honor the lives of George Floyd of Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor and David McAtee of Louisville, Tony McDade and Mychael Johnson of Tallahassee, and Ahmaud Arbery of Glyn County, Georgia and all Black lives taken by police violence. We are in solidarity with Black people demanding justice across the country. Perhaps as a result of this epidemic and crisis, our country will move towards valuing helping others more highly.

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Report from the AALS Annual Meeting

2020 AALS Program

Pro Bono and Public Service: Pillars of Democracy and the Legal Profession

At the AALS Annual Conference, in Washington, DC, on January 4, the AALS Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities Section sponsored a panel on Pillars of Democracy in the Legal Profession. The panel was a great reminder of the importance of pro bono in upholding the rule of law and in preserving our democracy, no small tasks these days. Acknowledging that pro bono is a pillar of democracy, Stephen Rispoli moderated an engaging session with some leaders in our field:

David Bienvenu, Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service
Betty Bali Torres, Executive Director, Texas Access to Justice Foundation
Darcy Meals, Assistant Director of the Center for Access to Justice at Georgia State University School of Law
Jim Sandman, former Director of the Legal Services Corporation

Additional photos available, here: https://baylor.box.com/s/rgw63qz1uagfga8q6t962p4ocpdedf1w

While all the panelists were great, by the end of Mr. Sandman’s comments, many of us were singing the national anthem with our flags in tow – and I can assure you, many of us are not the flag-waving type. While he provided some basic facts and figures and made clear that the law schools could/should be doing more to expose students to the access to justice gap, he did it in the context of democracy, liberty and more. It was quite moving. At the end, we had a lively question/answer period and all left with more things to do at our schools.

Their conversation was insightful, motivational and encouraging for our future. I encourage you to read the transcript or listen to the audio. Here is a link to the transcripts and audio files: https://baylor.box.com/s/pwbmlz4xzilz20jb900zkxwy7nx7d198

Disclaimer: These transcripts were created using a third-party technology company that transcribed the audio files. We include the transcripts not to be the authority on what the authors said – you can listen to the transcripts for that – but to allow you to quickly read through the transcripts of the panels. If you have any questions, please let us know. 


Co-Sponsored Programs

During the annual meeting we also co-sponsored three other section programs:

  • AALS Section on Empirical Study of Legal Education and the Legal Profession, “An Empirical Look: How Well Are We Preparing Law Students to Become Ethical Leaders Who Serve Others.”
  • Leadership Section, “Learning from Lawyer-Leaders throughout the Profession”
  • Pro-Bono & Public Service Opportunities Section, “Pro Bono and Public Service: Pillars of Democracy and the Legal Profession,” also co-sponsored by Empirical Study of the Law & Legal Education

Click here for photos from the event: https://baylor.box.com/s/rgw63qz1uagfga8q6t962p4ocpdedf1w

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Drinan and Rhode Award Winners

On behalf of the AALS Section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities, I am delighted to announce the winners of the Deborah L. Rhode and Father Robert Drinan Awards, selected from an impressive slate of nominees.


Deborah L. Rhode Award

Awarded to a full-time faculty member or dean who has made an outstanding contribution to increasing pro bono and public service in the law school setting through scholarship, leadership, or service, was presented to Aviam “Avi” Soifer, Dean of the University of Hawaii, William S. Richardson School of Law.

Dean Soifer received his law degree from Yale Law School in 1972. He also holds B.A. cum laude and Masters of Urban Studies degrees from Yale.
While in law school, he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal, a director of the Law School Film Society, and a director of the Legal Services Organization. He helped to found the C.V.H. Project, representing people in Connecticut’s largest mental hospital. He clerked for then- Federal District Judge Jon O. Newman in 1972-73.

Soifer began his law teaching career at the University of Connecticut in 1973, received a Law and Humanities Fellowship at Harvard University in 1976-77, and taught at Boston University from 1979-1993. He served as Dean of Boston College Law School from 1993-1998, and continued to teach until 2003, when he became Dean of the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii.

Soifer received Boston College’s Distinguished Senior Research Award and he was appointed as a Distinguished Scholar at the University of Wisconsin’s Legal Studies Institute. His book, Law and the Company We Keep was awarded the Alpha Sigma Nu Triennial National Jesuit Book Prize in professional studies.

He has an extensive record of scholarly publications, presentations, and public service activities and he continues to teach primarily in the areas of constitutional law, legal history, legal writing, and law and humanities.

The award was accepted by Ronette Kawakami, Hawaii’s Associate Dean for Student Services, on Dean Soifer’s behalf.


The Father Robert Drinan Award

The Father Robert Drinan Award, which was presented to Laurie Barron, Roger Williams University School of Law, recognizes a professional faculty or staff member at a law school who has forwarded the ethic of pro bono service through personal service, program design or management.

Laurie Barron is the Director Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education. She received a B.A. from Yale University, a J.D. from New York University School of Law, and an M.S.W. from New York University School of Social Work.

Laurie was selected in recognition of her good work starting a public interest/pro bono center and building it with amazing staff, programming, and the relationships she has built with students and alums in supporting them as they embark on their public interest and other types of legal careers. 

Her previous work includes representing children at the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society in New York City; working as a public defender and team leader at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem; and clinical teaching in an interdisciplinary Prisoners and Families Clinic at Columbia Law School, in a School-Based Legal Services Clinic at Rutgers-Camden School of Law, and in a Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project at Boston College Law School.

Barron directs the Feinstein Center and the Externship Program and teaches the Public Interest Lawyering seminar.

It was lovely having Laurie and her immediate and not so immediate family and friends there to honor and celebrate her – go Laurie!

Additional photos from the event are available, here: https://baylor.box.com/s/rgw63qz1uagfga8q6t962p4ocpdedf1w

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Pop Up Survey Results – #1

Question #1: What is your favorite time of year? Why?


-Tara Casey, Associate Clinical Professor, University of Richmond School of Law

Late March/early April: it is right before course registration for the following year, so talking with students about the future and seeing their excitement and feeling that so much is so open to them and they are the captains of it is so wonderful. Also during that time, the 3Ls are seeing the finish line and allowing themselves to relax and bathe in the enthusiasm. As graduation approaches, anxiety about the future and the bar exam starts to creep in, but late March/early April they allow themselves (whether knowingly or not) to feel pride for what they have accomplished.


-Liz Ryan Cole, Professor Emerita, Vermont Law School

Love it all!


-Anna Davis, Director of Pro Bono Programs, UC Irvine School of Law

October or February. The semesters are in full swing, students are busy on pro bono projects and the insanity of the semester has calmed down.


-Ted De Barbieri, Associate Professor, Albany Law School

Fall, when the students get back to campus.


-Jill Friedman, Associate Dean, Pro Bono and Public Interest, Rutgers Law School

The start of the second semester is exciting. The 1Ls feel much more a part of things, the summer internship season comes to life, our thoughts turn to fellowships, our pro bono projects are in overdrive, and school is warm and cozy while “the weather outside is frightful.”


-Joan Heminway, Rick Rose Distinguished Professor of Law, The University of Tennessee College of Law

In August, just as the school year begins. I am pretty sure it has something to do with it nabbing a time of renewal and hope. Perhaps it even relates back to my excitement about the new year as a student.


-David Johnson, Assistant Dean for Pro Bono & Advocacy Programs, GW Law

Summer; I can go on vacation!


-Virgie Mouton, Asst. Dean for Student Development, Thurgood Marshall School of Law

Tie (2) 1L Orientation and Graduation. Students are so happy and full of energy when they start law school as well as when they graduate from law school


-Pamela Robinson, Director, Pro Bono Program, University of South Carolina

Beginning of the Spring semester. The 1L’s have enough law school under their belt that they realize that they can fit pro bono into their schedule. The 2l’s are just going to be busy all year! 3L’s are facing some serious job hunting and often need to spruce up their resume’s. The combination makes for a busy, energetic and engaging time of the year.


-Angela Schultz, Assistant Dean for Public Service, Marquette Law School

Fall because everyone is new and fresh and excited to get going.


-Anne Sexton, Assistant Director of Public Interest; University of Minnesota Law School

Fall – it’s exciting to start a new year!


-Michelle Takagishi-Almeida, Director – Public Service Program, Southwestern Law School

May: offers the most availability for reflection, program assessment and (re)designing. Also, is a reenergizing time as students head into full-time summer clerk programs, trainings, and community events scheduled from May – August. Wonderful opporunities to be information sharing/exchanging.


-Jen Tschirch, Associate Director of Pro Bono Programs, Georgetown Law

I really enjoy the time leading up to graduation. We hold an annual reception called Public Interest Proud, which recognizes students’ efforts in the pro bono/public interest realm. It’s a fun, inspirational event and a nice opportunity to celebrate their hard work. It’s also gratifying to see how excited students are at Commencement to proudly wear the honor cords they earned for completing our Pro Bono Pledge!


-Eliza Vorenberg, Director of Pro Bono & Community Partnerships, Director Pro Bono Collaborative Roger Williams University School of Law

Beginning. New group of students in the building, a sense of excitement and renewal.


-Kiva Zytnick, Pro Bono Coordinator, CUA Law

The beginning of fall semester. Lots of enthusiasm and fresh energy!