Students Honored for Public Interest Work

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2Ls Artemis Malekpour, left, and Hannah Demeritt discuss legal services and legal advocacy work. See more photos here.

Duke Law honored 92 students on Nov. 5 at Public Interest Summer Employment Recognition Day, highlighting their public sector work last summer. These students often took on relatively low-paying jobs in government or non-profit organizations to perform service of benefit to the community. Among the many agencies they served were the Duke AIDS Legal Assistance Project; public defenders’ offices around the country; the Conservation Council of North Carolina and the Urban Justice Center of New York.

Many of the students were supported in their work by grants made available through the Public Interest Law Foundation, Duke Law School, Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, and the Burdman and Steckley/Weitzel endowments (from gifts by Dick Burdman ’56, Associate Dean Linda Steckley, and her husband, Pete Weitzel).

Recognition Day featured a breakfast sponsored by the Law School’s Office of External Relations and a lunch at which honorees answered questions about their jobs for students seeking public sector employment in the coming summer. The day ended with a happy hour outside the Blue Lounge, where the previous events were held.

At the breakfast meeting, School officials exhorted the students to continue their work in public interest law and spread the word of its importance. “I hope you all would think of yourselves as missionaries,” Dean Katharine T. Bartlett said.

Carol Spruill, associate dean for public interest and pro bono, added that all students can aspire to serving their communities, even if their first jobs don’t appear to lend themselves to such activities. “There are many paths to public service,” she said.

Summer Public Interest Employment Recognition Day was jointly sponsored by the Office of Public Interest and Pro Bono, the Student Public Interest & Pro Bono Board, Student Affairs, External Relations and Career Services.