On April 3, 2012, students, faculty, and alumni gathered in Feil Hall to congratulate public service awardees and welcome the evening’s keynote speaker, the Honorable Judge Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of the State of New York, at the annual Public Service Awards Ceremony and BLSPI Alumni Dinner.
The Law School honored 105 graduating students who have collectively devoted over 65,000 hours of their time to pro bono projects, internships, and other public service opportunities over the course of their law school careers. Their efforts included assisting domestic violence victims, immigrants, the unemployed, individuals seeking health care benefits, low-income tax payers, children, prisoners, asylum seekers, veterans, sex workers, and many others.
The ceremony also honored graduating student leaders who founded pro bono projects, revived and revitalized dormant projects, took over other projects requiring sophisticated oversight, and helped the community in other ways. The honored student leaders were: Noor Alam, Hal Budnick, Ratko Caricic, Rosa Cohen-Cruz, Dorothy DiPascali, Catherine Frizell, Rachel Furman, Alison Holstein, Christina Jenkins, Dina Kleyman, Cristina Lee, Erika Lorshbough, Joseph Most, Laura Richenderfer, David Shapiro, and Nathan Wilson.
Three students, Kathryn Hensley ’13, Sarah Briglia ’14, and Nathan Hennagin ’14, received the BLSPI Distinguished Service Award, for their commitment to public interest as well.
The BLSPI co-chairs Mike Berman ’12 and Matt Allee ’12 called the event “a perfect culmination of a great year for BLSPI and the entire public interest community at BLS. We had a lot to celebrate given the outstanding growth of our community and the many achievements of our members. Having Chief Judge Lippman as the keynote speaker was a special honor.”
In his welcome remarks, Interim Dean Michael Gerber noted the growing number of partnerships between BLS and the larger public interest community. Dean Jones-Woodin then congratulated all of the students on their accomplishments as she presented their awards.
In his keynote address, Judge Lippman spoke about his own career path and the importance of public interest work and funding. The nationwide funding crisis for civil legal services, he said, has stymied the judicial process. He implored graduating law students to uphold their duty as lawyers to ensure that all people have access to quality representation. “Otherwise,” he said, “the system of justice in this country fails.”
Laura Richenderfer, a recipient of both a Pro Bono Leadership Award and a Silver Public Service Award, was among the many attendees who found Judge Lippman’s speech inspiring. “[It] was a wonderful reminder that serving the public interest is not just an extra-curricular activity, but is an essential responsibility that we as law students owe our community,” she said.
Noor Alam, also a recipient of both a Pro Bono Leadership Award and Silver Public Service Award, noted that the event reflected the value placed on the “important, but often unglamorous” public interest work performed by students. “It has been fantastic to be part of the public interest community at Brooklyn Law School,” said Alam.
The 2012 Public Service Award Recipients are:
Platinum Public Service Award (1000+ hours):
Gold Public Service Award (500-999 hours):
Puichun (Jane) Li
Silver Public Service Award (250-499 hours):
Public Service Award (50-249 hours):