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Public Interest Corner

Pro Bono Breakfast and Reception

On May 19, GW Law kicked off graduation weekend with a pro bono breakfast and reception. This annual event honors graduating students who volunteered legal services through the GW Pro Bono Program. Forty-seven students were recognized for volunteering more than 4,000 hours of pro bono legal services at dozens of public interest organizations in the Washington area. Students also volunteered for GW Law-based projects, including the Animal Welfare Project, Project Re-Entry, Street Law Youth in Transition Project, and a project providing legal analysis and commentary on the Kosovo Criminal Procedure Code.

Honorees received pro bono awards from Dean Frederick M. Lawrence and a special notation in the commencement program. Alumni seeking GW Law student volunteers are welcome to contact Pro Bono Liaison Anna Marshall at (202) 994-7340.

Faculty and Legal Reform Projects

This fall marked the beginning of the Street Law Mock Legislature and Youth in Transition Project, and a new GW Law pro bono legal reform project called Project Re-Entry. Overseen by Professors Mary Cheh and Anne Olesen, Project Re-Entry is a joint effort by students and faculty. Its goal is researching and analyzing laws that affect the ability of persons released from prison to re-enter and re-integrate into the community. GW Street Law members reach out to the D.C. public school community by teaching law-related classes to get public school students to think about the law and how it affects their lives, and to encourage them to pursue higher education.

In the fall, GW Law hosted its First Annual Mock Legislature for D.C. Public School Kids. Faculty and students served as moderators while Francis Junior High School students divided into committee teams to advocate for and against issues relating to driving, public welfare, and sentencing. The teen legislators then voted to defeat a driving initiative that would have allowed licenses to be issued to those 14 years of age and older.

The Street Law Youth in Transition Program also was established during the 2005-06 academic year to complement the work being done in public schools by the student organization Street Law. Law student “fellows” attend trainings and teach practical law lessons to youth in transition, including teens aging out of foster care and teens in the juvenile justice system.