PUBLISHED:April 16, 2012

DBA presents 2012 D.O.N.E. awards

The Duke Bar Association commemorated the end of the academic year with its annual D.O.N.E. awards, honoring Professor Joseph Blocher with the Distinguished Teaching Award, Caitlin Swain-McSurely ’12 with the Outstanding Student Organization Leader Award for her work with the Innocence Project, and Phil Aubart ’13 with the Outstanding Student Contribution to the Duke Law Community Award for his leadership of the Duke Law chapter of the Federalist Society.

The Federalist Society was recognized for making the Greatest Contribution to Civic Discourse, and the Duke Sports and Entertainment Society was honored for the Greatest Role in Building Relationships.

The Duke Outstanding and Noteworthy Endeavors (D.O.N.E.) Awards recognize student organizations, student leaders, and faculty who make significant contributions to the community and academic experience at Duke Law.

In announcing the Distinguished Faculty Award, incoming DBA president Zach Kleiman ’13 said Blocher inspires his students with one simple message: “That progress is not inevitable. Society does not just magically improve over time. It improves because people choose to act, and more often than not, those people are lawyers. It’s all of us, sitting in this room.

“For three years now, Professor Blocher has worked as hard as anyone in our faculty to serve his students, and he’s done one hell of a job,” Kleiman said. “It seems that this man can’t go a single day without inspiring a student and leaving a lasting impression.”

Swain was honored for her leadership of the Innocence Project, for which she organized a major conference examining wrongful convictions and created an outreach team that partners with Durham schools and churches in pursuit of justice for the wrongfully convicted.

During her three years as a Duke Law student, Swain has “worked tirelessly as president of the Innocence Project to see to it that Duke uses its vast resources to aid the defense of those who may have been wrongfully convicted," Kleiman said.

“Regardless of our political, religious, or ideological differences,” he added, “we can all agree that no one wants to see an innocent person go to prison.”

Aubart was honored for his contributions to the Duke Law community, and the organization he led this year, the Duke Law chapter of the Federalist Society, was recognized for creating a forum for debate in which panelists and students discussed significant legal issues, including the Affordable Care Act and the consequences of voter identification laws. Aubart and the Federalist Society, said Kleiman, “did a truly wonderful job of sparking thoughtful discussion every week, and brought in an eclectic mix of fascinating speakers.”

The Duke Sports and Entertainment Law Society was recognized for building relationships by hosting a series of events and a conference that brought together students and leaders from the sports and entertainment industries – all of whom, Kleiman joked, agreed “that if there’s anything Duke students need to do more of, it’s spend more time thinking and talking about sports.”