Spruance honored by Utah State Bar for work with law school’s Pro Bono Initiative

JoLynn Spruance, director of the Pro Bono Initiative at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law,  has been named by the Utah State Bar as “Community Member of the Year.”

The award was presented at the 2016 Utah State Bar Fall Forum. It was given to Spruance for outstanding service toward the creation of a better public understanding of the legal profession and the administration of justice, the judiciary or the legislative process.

“This is another well-deserved accolade to JoLynn’s exceptional work here at the College of Law and in the community,” said Robert Adler, dean at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. “It is particularly fitting that JoLynn received this news during Pro Bono week,” he added. 

Each October, the American Bar Association promotes Pro Bono Week —an annual effort to recognize pro bono service in the legal community. The College of Law this year hosted several events to encourage a spirit of volunteerism among students and attorneys, and to recognize those who donate their time and expertise in the community. unknown

The Pro Bono Initiative, or PBI, at the S.J. Quinney College of Law is a unique noncredit volunteer program that allows students to build real world problem-solving skills to serve their community. The program has a three-part mission: to provide skill building legal opportunities under the direct supervision of attorneys; to develop placements where alumni can volunteer, network and serve as mentors to law students; and to demonstrate the professional responsibility of those in the legal profession to provide pro bono legal services to the underserved in the community who otherwise would not have access to the justice system.

“I believe PBI is a vehicle for each law student to take what they have learned in the classroom and then connect it with real world experience,” said Spruance, of the program she oversees. “PBI gives law students the opportunity to actively use what they are learning in the classroom in real-world situations with the brightest practicing attorneys in the valley.  PBI cements their educational experiences together,” she said.

The U’s PBI sponsors nine free brief legal consultation clinics throughout the Salt Lake City and Ogden areas, including: American Indian Law; Debtors Counseling; Expungement; Family Law; Medical-Legal; Rainbow Law; Street Law; Community Legal Clinics.

Clinics operate year-round and are staffed by volunteer students and volunteer lawyer supervisors. PBI also pairs students with practitioners in various placements including law firms, where students assist on pro bono matters, as well as nonprofit organizations and legal-related agencies.

Spruance previously received the Liberty Bell Award in 2014 by the Young Lawyers Division of the Utah State Bar.