Class of 2014 Sets Pro Bono Record

Pro bono award recipients pose with George Washington, one of the Nationals’ “Racing Presidents” mascots.

A record 144 students from the Class of 2014 volunteered a total of 25,822 pro bono hours to legal assistance projects, the largest contribution ever from a graduating class. The previous high mark was established by the Class of 2013, with 139 students contributing 22,458 hours, more than doubling 2012’s record.

Graduating JD students completing 60 hours or more of pro bono legal services and LLM students contributing at least 20 hours are honored annually at a Pro Bono Recognition Ceremony at Nationals Park prior to Commencement. Students who volunteer more than 100 hours also receive a silver cord to wear at graduation, a lapel pin, and a presidential certificate and letter. 

Presiding over this year’s recognition ceremony were then Interim Dean Gregory E. Maggs, Lerner Family Associate Dean for Public Interest/Public Service Law Alan B. Morrison, and Assistant Dean for Pro Bono and Advocacy Programs David M. Johnson. The Lerner family, which boasts many GW and GW Law alumni, owns the Washington Nationals; the family also generously endowed Associate Dean Morrison’s position. 

By providing legal services to those who cannot afford them or might not otherwise receive them, students gain practical legal experience, build their résumés, and establish networking contacts. 

In the past four years, the Pro Bono Program and GW Law students together have created several new projects:

  • The Cancer Pro Bono Project connects patients with students, under attorney supervision, to assist with advanced directives, employment issues, insurance coverage, Social Security, and wills.
     
  • The District Record Sealing Service provides a platform for students, in conjunction with the Public Defender Service, to assist community members seeking to seal their criminal records. 
     
  • The Domestic Violence Pro Bono Project helps individuals with cases in Domestic Violence Court prepare their legal documents. 
     
  • The Homeless Pro Bono Project pairs students with attorneys to give legal assistance to the homeless at weekly intakes sponsored by the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.
     
  • The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project affords students the opportunity to help the wrongfully convicted by screening cases for potential representation.
     
  • The Office of Administrative Hearings Pro Bono Project enables students, under attorney supervision, to guide the public through pro se administrative law cases at the Office of Administrative Hearings’ Resource Center.