Sarah Bell '04

April 7, 2010Duke Law News

Sarah Bell admits that she does not have much free time.

In addition to her litigation practice at Pryor Cashman, where she is an associate, Bell serves as president of the Duke Law Club of New York, which she helped establish in 2006. She takes an active role in planning the club’s numerous events, which have included basketball watch parties, faculty lectures, panels related to current events, and mixers with alumni from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

“We try to mix events that are educational with things that are more purely social,” she says. “We try to mirror current events, so we had a healthcare panel discussion with [Professor] Barak Richman, and while the economy was in crisis, we invited Professor James Cox to explain what was happening. We’ve also had some very well-attended basketball-watching mixers. The events are all generally well-attended, and we’ve been able to draw out new members.”

A New York native who also attended Duke as an undergraduate, Bell explains that she willingly dedicates so much time to the alumni club because maintaining a connection with the Duke Law School community is vital to her. “I met seven years worth of friends and my husband at Duke,” she says. “I feel like the alumni club is the least I can do.”

The Duke Law Club of New York is one of approximately 20 clubs worldwide that provide the Law School’s more than 9,300 alumni with networking, volunteer, and fellowship opportunities as well as professional development programs and seminars.

In addition to events where Law School grads mingle with alumni from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and purely social — or basketball-related — events, Bell says Duke Law faculty and alumni have made interesting and educational appearances in New York.

“(Law Professor) Tom Metzloff has presented the club with documentaries from his Voices of American Law project,” Bell recounts. “We had a panel discussion on the media that had some on-air personalities along with Professor Christopher Schroeder and (Senior Lecturing Fellow and now U.S. Senator) Ted Kaufman. We had a program on e-discovery with a Duke Law alum and Southern District of New York magistrate judge who is an e-discovery expert. The list really goes on and on.”

Personally active in pro bono legal work, Bell is particularly proud of the club members’ commitment to finding ways to incorporate pro bono and community services projects into their yearly events.

Her own pro bono work has included a criminal appeal before the N.Y. Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, which she wrote and argued, and the successful representation of a client at trial before the Bronx Family Court in a protective order and child custody proceeding. In 2008, she was awarded the President’s Pro Bono Service Award by the New York State Bar Association for her pro bono work.

Bell’s commitment to the Duke community extends beyond her alumni club responsibilities. She serves on the University’s Annual Fund Executive Committee, co-chaired her fifth-year reunion committee for her undergraduate and Law School reunions, and served as a board member of the Law School’s Future Forum for four years.

Ultimately, she says, it all comes down to staying connected.

“I was in Durham for seven years of my life,” she says. “Obviously I feel very tied to Duke.”
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