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As a result of its efforts to develop new approaches to the delivery of volunteer legal services, the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Public Service Program will receive the American Bar Association’s 2000 Pro Bono Publico Award. The distinction is especially significant because it marks the first time in the ABA’s history that a law school has received the prestigious award. Traditionally, it honors only law firms and lawyers. “This award belongs to the faculty, staff, students, lawyers and judges who have translated our pro bono commitment into a workable program,” Penn’s Public Service Program Director Susan Feathers said. “We have worked together to meet the needs of the under-represented while cultivating in our students and the legal community an enduring pro bono ethic.” The ABA presents five Pro Bono Publico Awards annually. Other 2000 recipients include the Exxon U.S.A. law department of Houston, Texas; the San Francisco, Calif., law firm of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe; and attorneys Anil K. Mehta of Buena Park, Calif., and Charles E. Patterson of Los Angeles, Calif. The individuals and organizations honored with this award are recognized for their efforts to foster the ABA’s four pro bono goals: � To help ensure that all lawyers have an opportunity to meet their ethical obligation to provide professional pro bono services; � To assist in the creation, design and implementation of effective organized pro bono programs; � To ensure that existing pro bono programs continue to provide high quality legal services to the poor; � To integrate pro bono representation into the system for delivering civil legal services to the poor. Penn’s was the first national law school to establish a mandatory public service requirement as a condition of graduation. Each student must fulfill a minimum of 70 hours of public service work. Since its inception in 1989, more than 2,400 Penn law students have performed more than 230,000 hours of public service legal work for low-income clients who otherwise would have no legal representation. The goal of the program is threefold, according to Feathers. It increases the students’ exposure to the needs of the poor, which therefore mobilizes them to take action, and it heightens their awareness of the community’s needs. “With an estimated 500 students at any given time working pro bono for the poor, an impact is made that can be felt by the entire community,” Feathers said. “By instilling public service at such a critical and early stage of career development, we hope to create lasting trends in the behavior and ideology of our students and ensure that all of society’s legal needs continue to be met.” The Penn law faculty members were the driving force behind the mandatory stipulation aspect of the requirement, said Feathers, and they remain an integral part of the program, aiding in the placement of their students with existing public service agencies to make the overall experience meaningful for all parties involved. One key outgrowth of the program is the Edward V. Sparer Fellowship Program, which funds 10 students each summer to perform work at civil legal service organizations in combination with for-credit academic research. For the past two years, the program has also hosted the Edward V. Sparer Conference, a forum that focused on current issues in poverty advocacy. The Penn Law School’s Public Service Program has become a model for numerous other schools. While law schools across the country have implemented similar programs, international law schools in Nigeria, Mexico and Latin America are following Penn’s example as well. Feathers said she hopes the award will send a message to all law schools that legal education must first and foremost be responsive to the needs of society. Penn Law’s Public Service Program was also nominated for the ABA’s Pro Bono Publico Award in 1999. This year’s award will be bestowed on the law school in a ceremony held during the ABA’s annual meeting in New York in July.

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