Law School Receives Inaugural Champion of Justice Award From Legal Aid Justice Center
The University of Virginia School of Law received the inaugural Champion of Justice Award from the Charlottesville-based Legal Aid Justice Center at an event Saturday evening celebrating the center’s 50th anniversary.
Legal Aid created the award “to recognize an extraordinary individual or group who has made a significant contribution to justice for all in Virginia over a significant period,” according to Executive Director Mary Bauer ’90.
The Law School community was not only integral to the center’s creation, but it has facilitated its efforts to provide legal services to the poor ever since. Working with LAJC, students gain experience helping clients under the supervision of practicing attorneys through the center’s clinics and campaigns, with faculty and alumni often taking part in the efforts.
Dean Risa Goluboff accepted the award on behalf of the Law School from Bauer.
“The Legal Aid Justice Center would not be the program that it is without the extraordinary contributions of the University of Virginia School of Law,” Bauer said following the event. “The Law School’s students, faculty and alumni have made LAJC the powerhouse that it is and have allowed us to serve so many low-income members of this community with excellence.”
Goluboff, in receiving the award, praised the partnership between the institutions. A large number of their staff attorneys first gained experience working at the center as UVA Law students.
The center’s founding, she noted, was the product of the legal advocacy of young lawyers influenced by the civil rights movement. She said that the Law School has a responsibility to carry that advocacy forward.
“As a professor, and now as dean, I feel deeply that we have to inculcate that sense of ownership, responsibility and power in our students — not just as passive recipients of law, but as active participants in the legal process and makers of its results,” Goluboff said.
The center currently partners with the Law School to offer six for-credit clinics that allow the center to serve even more low-income individuals in the community, and to train the next generation of public interest lawyers.
“I am honored to receive this award on behalf of the Law School and the literally hundreds of current and former students, faculty, alumni and staff who are its real recipients,” Goluboff said afterward. “I know I speak for us all when I say that we treasure our relationship with LAJC, and we are forever indebted to it for all the ways in which it enriches our students and enables us to serve the public.”