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Celebrating BU Law’s Pro Bono commitment

May 20, 2010

Published by BU Law

On April 14th, members of the BU Law community awarded the pro bono work of devoted students, alumni and faculty at the School’s Year-End Pro Bono Celebration.

At the event, 45 graduating J.D. and LL.M. students received certificates for fulfilling their “Pro Bono Pledge.” J.D. students committed to work a minimum of 35 hours throughout their three years at BU Law, and LL.M.’s committed 12 hours.

First- and second-year students joined the 3L’s to talk about their experiences over music, dinner and speeches by the 2010 Pro Bono Award recipients: alumnus Peter Resnik (’70) and Professor Susan Akram.

“Your enthusiasm, creativity and commitment is truly inspiring,” said Sabrina Halloran, director of BU Law’s Pro Bono Program to the honorees in her welcome address. “I can tell by the way you talk about your experiences that you’ve been touched profoundly by them.”

BU Law’s dedication to public service is on the rise: This year, 231 students signed the pledge – the most in the Pro Bono Program’s four years. Forty-two students went on five pro bono trips this spring break – more than twice as many as last year. This summer, two students will travel to Cambodia to give legal assistance to an NGO fighting human trafficking. These efforts inspired National Jurist Magazine to name BU Law as one of four top law schools for public interest support.

“[These students] have learned to appreciate the responsibilities that attorneys share – that the privilege of earning a law degree, and of living a life in the law, comes with an ongoing obligation to advance the cause of justice and the rule of law,” said Dean Maureen O’Rourke in her opening remarks. “And this is the greatest achievement of all.”

Pro Bono Award recipients Resnik and Akram have demonstrated how attorneys can incorporate public service into their careers. Both lawyers “work tirelessly to break down barriers to opportunity and justice, volunteering countless hours to provide critical legal services to our most vulnerable citizens,” said Dean O’Rourke.

Peter Resnik, a senior counsel at international law firm McDermott Will & Emery LLP, has provided pro bono representation throughout his career, in particular, to the homeless in Boston. He received attention nation-wide when he founded a book club for the homeless through the Oasis Coalition.

Professor Akram, Pro Bono Faculty Award winner, was born and raised in Pakistan. Her early exposure to the struggles of refugees there steered her to immigration and refugee law. She worked as an immigration lawyer for many years before joining the BU Law faculty in 1993. She was recognized with a Fulbright Senior Scholar Teaching and Research Award for the 1999-2000 academic year.

“I don’t do pro bono work,” she insisted in her acceptance speech. “I just do what has to be done.”

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