PUBLISHED:April 20, 2009

Public interest and pro bono banquet and award ceremony

April 20, 2009 -- Members of the Duke Law community gathered on April 2 to recognize students who have been involved in pro bono projects or placements both over the past year and throughout their time at Duke Law School. Charles Becton ’69, president of the North Carolina Bar Association, opened the ceremony by thanking the students, staff, and supervising attorneys involved in the numerous pro bono activities.

“What you have done will set the tone for what you will do in your lawyering careers,” Becton said, addressing the students in attendance. “It will also help to balance out your life as a lawyer.”

Certificates were presented to many of the 374 students enrolled in 40 different pro bono placements or projects during the 2008-2009 school year. Forty-two students received recognition for volunteering between 25 and 49 hours; 37 were recognized for volunteering between 50 and 99 hours; and nine students were recognized for volunteering over 100 hours.

Eric Eisenberg ’09 reported the most pro bono hours — 247 total — for the school year. Eisenberg was the student director of the Innocence Project this year and served on the executive board of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

Members of the Class of 2009 were also recognized for their pro bono commitments. One hundred and thirty-three members of the class, including two LLMs, met the Pro Bono Pledge, providing at least 50 hours of law-related service to the community through pro bono activities or clinic participation. Nineteen members of the Class of 2009 did pro bono work during all three of their years at Law School.

Amanda McRae ’09 was recognized for completing more than 350 hours of pro bono work during her Law School career. McRae founded the Immigration Education Project and co-founded the International Human Rights Law Society. Combining pro bono activities and clinic participation, the Class of 2009 has reported nearly 20,000 hours of law-related service to the community during their time at Duke Law.

In addition to the participation awards, 36 students were recognized for their leadership of pro bono groups or public interest activities.

“It doesn’t really matter what kind of lawyer you go out and become,” said Dean David F. Levi at the conclusion of the program. “What will stand out in your mind are the individual people you have helped. When lawyers solve problems for people, it is immensely gratifying. It’s great that you have a head start on that.”