Spruance Wins Utah State Bar’s 2014 Liberty Bell Award

On May 1, JoLynn Spruance, Director of the Pro Bono Initiative at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, won the Utah State Bar’s Liberty Bell Award, a recognition given by the Young Lawyers Division of the Bar to a non-lawyer for encouraging a greater respect for law and the courts, stimulating a sense of civic responsibility, and contributing to good government in the community.

Spruance said she was “humbled and shocked” when she received the news. “I can think of so many people who work within the legal community and especially the College of Law who are much more deserving of this award than me. To work at the College of Law is to work as a part of a team, so this award is for all of us!”

Michelle Harvey, the Bar’s Access to Justice Coordinator, nominated Spruance for the award. She explained, “I believe that JoLynn truly puts her heart and soul into providing the greatest experience for the law students in pro bono service. She helps the students form relationships with attorneys who not only teach them valuable legal skills, but who also the value of giving back to the community.”

In her nomination form, Harvey wrote, “JoLynn gives so much of herself in order to teach the students how valuable pro bono service is to them and to the community they serve. I believe that she would be a worthy recipient of this award for all she does to help the community and inspire those who are the future of the legal profession.”

Kate Conyers, ’08, was heavily involved in PBI activities as a student, volunteering at various times with the Family Law Clinic, Street Law Clinic, Guadalupe Clinic, and other projects. When informed of the news, she said, “I can’t think of a better person to receive the Liberty Bell award!”

“Jolynn encouraged me to get my pro bono certificate as a law student and continues to encourage me and to provide me opportunities to give pro bono service as an attorney,” Conyers recounted. “I can’t think of another person — lawyer or non-lawyer — who does more to encourage local lawyers to provide pro bono services to our community and gives them good opportunities to do so.”

The ever-humble Spruance credits the efforts of her peers for her recognition. “I applaud our Admissions Office, which recruits some of the best students in the country!  Another highlight of my position is being able to collaborate with our alumni on new projects.  We work together over the span of several years while they are students and also after graduation.  Understanding the ‘hands-on’ experience they needed as a law student, they co-develop projects that benefit current law students in many different ways. Often, the mentors that come out of PBI are mentors for life!  I’m in my 10th year at the College of Law and that means I’ve had the privilege of working with and mentoring some of our attorney leaders in the community now. I hope I’ve made a difference and have been able to teach them through example the importance of giving back to the community they live in.”