The American Bar Association will honor Fordham Law School’s Public Interest Resource Center (PIRC) with its annual Pro Bono Publico Award.
Established in 1984, the prize recognizes exceptional contributions that extend legal services to the poor and disadvantaged. Award recipients exemplify the volunteer tradition of the legal profession. Fordham Law is only the second law school to be honored with the prize.
The University of Pennsylvania Law School won the prize in 2000. The award will be presented during the ABA’s annual convention in New York City in August.
Fordham Law’s PIRC is home to student-initiated and student-run pro bono and community service projects. The center supports 20 group projects on issues ranging from homelessness to domestic violence to children’s law. Activities include pro bono legal work, advocacy and education.
“PIRC truly brings our school’s motto ‘In the service of others’ to life,” Dean William Michael Treanor said. “Our students display a remarkable commitment to using their legal education to benefit those who are in most need of help.
“The American Bar Association’s award does more than honor our current students. It really recognizes the work of all those who came before them and built the exceptionally strong tradition of public service that distinguishes Fordham Law.”
Under the direction of Assistant Dean Tom Schoenherr, who started the center in 1992, PIRC supports student pro bono initiatives by providing the technology, space and guidance necessary to facilitate the students’ efforts.
“Our success is really based on several things,” Dean Schoenherr said. “It starts with very talented and dedicated students who work closely with an equally gifted staff. Andrew Chapin, one of our directors, was especially instrumental in gaining recognition from the ABA. In the end, it’s really a community effort that includes students, faculty and involved and dedicated alumni.”
PIRC is a dynamic center that adapts to the changing needs of society and to the evolving interests of Fordham Law students. Each year students create new projects as they identify emerging social concerns and legal needs.
PIRC is at the core of a community of Fordham students who will either pursue public interest careers or incorporate pro bono service into their professional lives.
Fordham is one of the most selective law schools in the nation. Several of its programs are ranked among the top 20. The Fordham Law Review is the third most cited American law journal.