On May 1, 2009, at the annual Law Day Celebration at the Little America Hotel, the Utah State Bar presented the inaugural Pro Bono Project Awards. The Utah State Bar created the Pro Bono Project to help Utah’s most vulnerable populations gain equal access to justice. In recognition of Utah attorneys’ generous donation of time and expertise, the Bar created the Pro Bono Project awards. These awards are meant “to recruit, train and award pro bono attorneys,” said Utah State Bar Pro Bono Coordinator Anna Jespersen. “It is the hope of the Utah State Bar that these awards will continue to recognize the attorneys that constantly strive to fulfill their ethical and professional responsibility while assisting those of limited financial means in Utah.” Students, faculty, and alumni of The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law received four out of five of the individual awards.
S.J. Quinney College of Law ProBono Initiative Director Kristin Erickson was elated with the award results: “The service of these award recipients is truly inspiring. It is also good feedback for us here at the law school. For the past 25 years, through our clinical program, and bolstered in the last 10 years by the Pro Bono Initiative, the Law School has been committed to promoting a culture of, and commitment to, public service among our students, faculty and graduates. In addition to the important public service students perform through these programs, we hope that our graduates take this commitment to pro bono and public service into their professional lives. To the extent that the law school has helped to foster the exceptional service recognized through these awards, we have been successful.”
Pro Bono Commitment to Community Award: Linda F. Smith
Linda F. Smith, Professor and Clinical Program Director at the S. J. Quinney College of Law, was honored with this newly created award for her long-standing commitment to advocating on behalf of Utah’s underprivileged community. The plaque presented to Smith states:”For your teaching and Pro Bono work which have made a profound impact on the pro bono community in Utah. You have done so with competence, professionalism and honor. The citizens of the state of Utah will long appreciate and benefit from your great service.” Inscribed on the glass plaque is a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. “During her acceptance speech, Smith noted the importance of pro bono work not only in consultative settings but also in the courtroom. “It is important,” she stated, “that pro bono work be done, not just through brief advice clinics but also by taking contested cases that seek to change and improve the law and the administration of justice.” Smith continued,”You will not be universally liked if you undertake this work. But it is intellectually challenging and it needs to be done.”
Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Scott H. Martin
University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law 1996 alumnus Scott H. Martin received this award for his pro bono legal representation of the non-profit organization SPLORE (Special Populations Learning Outdoor Recreation and Education). SPLORE provides empowering outdoor recreation and education programs to children and adults with physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral disabilities. Martin spent most of his legal practice in 2008 assisting SPLORE successfully resolve its insurance policy coverage dispute with its contracted insurance carrier on a widely briefed and argued summary judgment issue.
Senior Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Nick Angelides
During 2008, Nick Angelides donated more than 720 hours in assisting low-income senior citizens in obtaining wills, power of attorney, living wills, and various other legal issues. Angelides received the award for his patience, understanding, compassion, and attention with his clients, several of whom are homebound, blind, wheelchair-bound or nearing the end stages of life.
Pro Bono Young Lawyer of the Year: Melissa Fulkerson
In 2008 alone, Melissa Fulkerson completed 10 pro bono cases. Since graduating from the S.J. Quinney College of Law in 2005, she has worked as a trial attorney in the misdemeanor division of the Salt Lake City Legal Defenders Association. Even after leaving the Legal Defenders Association, Fulkerson took many of her upcoming cases with her on a pro bono basis. Fulkerson received her Pro Bono Initiative Certificate of Service at graduation.
Pro Bono Legal Aid Attorney of the Year: Timothy J. Williams
For his exceptional contributions to improving legal aid in Utah and providing pro bono work outside the scope of his employment, Timothy J. Williams was honored with this award. Williams, a 2005 graduate of the S.J.Quinney College of Law, is a staff attorney at Utah Legal Services. He also volunteers as a Moot Court Judge and represents petitioners at Protective Order hearings, even, when they have not requested help from Utah Legal Services. Before joining Legal Services he was a committed and passionate pro bono attorney in his private practice. While in law school, Williams earned his Pro Bono Initiative Certificate of Service.
Pro Bono Law Student of the Year: Tadd Dietz
For his dedication to advancing access to legal justice to Utah citizens in critical situations, the Utah Bar presented Tadd Dietz with this award. To put the scope of Dietz’s service in context, he completed more than four times the 50 hours of pro bono service required to receive his Pro Bono Initiative Certificate of Service by the end of his second year of law school. Dietz, currently a third year student at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, has completed over 210 volunteer hours. Many of those hours were completed as a volunteer and student coordinator at the Guadalupe Clinic, in conjunction with Salt Lake Peer Court, Family Law Clinic, Utah Legal Services, and the Immigration Clinic. As a student, Dietz was the first ever Pro Bono Initiative student coordinator as a first year student. With this role, he spoke at numerous PBI trainings. Recently, Dietz was the student speaker for our Inaugural Access to Justice Recognition Dinner.
Pro Bono Law Student of the Year Honorable Mention: Danielle Hawkes
Another student, Danielle Hawkes, received an Honorable Mention for her extensive work as student coordinator and volunteer at the Guadalupe Clinic. She will graduate in 2010 and has already completed three times the hours required to earn her Pro Bono Initiative Certificate.