On Friday April 17, 2009 the S.J. Quinney College of Law hosted its Access to Justice Recognition Dinner at the Salt Lake City Marriott City Center to honor the law students of the class of 2009, attorneys, and supervisors actively involved in the College’s Pro Bono Initiative and Civil Clinical Program for their commitment to public service in the legal profession.
Dean Hiram Chodosh welcomed the honorees and respected guests and spoke of the tremendous contributions these programs make “to not only the law school but to the larger legal community as well as access to justice.” He cited impressive statistics about the College of Law’s programs: 140 placements a year for the Pro Bono Initiative and 200 placements a year for the Clinical Program.
Linda Smith, director of the Clinical Program and professor of law, saw the Dinner as a long-awaited opportunity to thank all of the participants: “to the supervising attorneys, we are grateful for your competent oversight and caring mentoring; to the clinic students, we appreciate and honor your service.”
Tadd Dietz, Class of 2009, who was actively involved in both programs, spoke of the incredible benefits associated with public service work. “This is a networking opportunity to connect with experienced lawyers in the community [and] a hands-on experience to work on actual cases” and urged his peers to continue to mak a difference.
Scott Matheson, Jr., professor of law, who was recognized for conceptualizing the Pro Bono Initiative, highlighted the successes of the public service programs at the College: “They represent the best in partnerships and working relationships.” Matheson addressed the students by predicting, “We will continue the impressive legacy you’ve already established.”
The keynote speaker, Chief Justice Christine Durham of the Utah Supreme Court, delivered remarks that were both sober and uplifting in tone. She cited a study that found America to be the last among Western industrialized nations with regard to resources allocated for legal services to the poor, and then commented on the structure of pro bono work. “The term is expansive and ambiguous,” with individual attorneys loosely defining it for themselves, and “with only three states mandating reporting of pro bono services.” But remaining true to the spirit of the night, she said, “You are part of a movement whose time has come. And [access to justice] has a significant role to play in America’s promise.”
Kristin Erickson, director of the Pro Bono Initiative, emceed the event.