The D.O.N.E. awards recognize student organizations and individuals who made major contributions to the Duke Law community and experience this academic year.
Associate Professor Jedediah Purdy, who joined the faculty in 2004, was honored with the DBA’s “Distinguished Teaching Award.” Noting that he had taken Purdy’s classes in property, climate change and the law, and property and the constitutional order, presenter Matt Wolfe ’08 praised him for his “accessibility, curiosity, relentlessness, humility, sincerity, and respect for the student.”
“The queue into his office begins early in the semester and lasts long after the exam period,” said Wolfe. “He is as interested in his students mastering the finer doctrinal points of property law as he is with his students developing their own personal role in the world. This passion takes him out of his office to ultimate Frisbee pitches, bars, lunchtime talks, and wherever else students may be found. … He is deeply interested in the world around him and those with whom he inhabits that world. This inexhaustible passion for understanding is evident in everything he does.”
Wolfe relayed a fellow student’s passing remark that an email from Purdy “‘literally changed [her] worldview.’ When they hurriedly respond to people’s emails, most people do not think of the consequences of their writings,” said Wolfe. “I think this professor does. He writes each email, develops each lesson, and crafts each sentence with the care that it might be his last and most important.”
Clearly touched by the recognition, Purdy was brief with his remarks. “If you ever have to decide between forgetting how beautiful you all are and forgetting the rule against perpetuities, remember how beautiful you are,” he said to laughter and applause.
The Duke Law chapter of the Federalist Society was recognized for its contribution to stimulating awareness and intellectual curiosity about current issues. Presenting the DBA’s “Greatest Contribution to Civic Discourse Award,” 1L Bethany DeFrancesco said that Federalist Society events, often co-sponsored with other student groups, “facilitated discourse” on such diverse subjects as stare decisis, the Establishment Clause, the meaning of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, free speech on campuses, and the direction of the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence.
OUTLaw, which supports education and outreach at the Law School and in the community on legal and social issues relevant to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and also serves as a social network, was recognized with the “Most Active in Law Student Life Award. Presenter Kat Shea ’10 said, “OUTLaw had a huge presence at the Law School this year, planning programming and encouraging knowledge and consciousness about LGBT issues.” Included among their 23 programs were the first North Carolina Equality Conference, a campus-wide celebration of National Coming Out Day and Freedom to Marry Day, and an informational forum on LGBT legal issues.
The “Greatest Service to the Community Award” went to the Duke Law Innocence Project. Involving nearly 80 students who collectively logged the most volunteer hours among pro bono groups, the Innocence Project changed its structure to become “a more cohesive, thorough, and effective pro bono group, [allowing] its members to perform more effectively and do a greater amount of good for the community,” said presenter Matthew Levy ’09. “I feel privileged to have been a member of the group for the past two years and to have been guided during the last year under its student leadership.”
Mike Sopko ’08, president of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society, was named “Outstanding Student Leader.” Presenter Catherine Brewer ’10 noted the many speakers Sopko recruited to speak including former professional baseball player Bob Brower, Special Counsel to the NFL, Jay Moher ’65, and Joby Branion, executive director of Athletes First.
The Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) was honored with the “Greatest Role in Building Relationships Award.” Having raised a record $143,000 that will enable record-high grants for students pursuing summer public interest work, presenter Jillian Harrison ’10 observed that PILF facilitates relationships in myriad ways. “Most importantly, PILF helps us build better relationships with the community and world outside the Law School,” she said. “PILF directly enables our students to take advantage of opportunities to better themselves as people and lawyers while bettering the world around us. It helps make Duke Law a kinder, gentler place.”
Concluding the ceremony, DBA Academic Chair Adam Sanders ’10 said that one of the things that drew him to Duke was its reputation for collegiality. “I see that is absolutely true,” he said. “Part of the reason that is true is the student organizations that you all are involved in, and the outstanding faculty. Keep it up next year. We are happy to support student and faculty initiatives.”