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May 15, 2013

St. Thomas students
ST. THOMAS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW students show that their commitment to the profession goes beyond the classroom by performing 16,000 hours of pro bono work in the community each year. In April, the school honored 77 students who completed more than 100 individual hours of pro bono service at the Second Annual Public Service Awards Ceremony. “Today we celebrate the difference a lawyer can make in people’s lives and the particular difference our students make in this community,” said Dean Douglas Ray. Law student Marbely Hernandez was specially commended for providing over 1,200 hours of volunteer law-related service, while students Francoise Blanco and Mitch Altman won awards for their work with low-income taxpayers and military families through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. Howard Blumberg, Dade County assistant public defender and adjunct professor, gave the keynote address at the ceremony and also was named “Outstanding Public Service Supervisor” for his commitment to the school’s Pro Bono Leadership Program. After sharing with students his recent experience arguing in the U.S. Supreme Court, Blumberg spoke of the many satisfactions of a career spent in public service: “By providing quality legal representation on appeal to clients who cannot afford to hire their own lawyers, and by treating those clients with respect and dignity, I feel I have been able to make those clients feel that at least one person in the legal system truly cares about them.” Thomas Law’s Pro Bono Leadership Program, directed by Jennifer Portwood Gordon of the School’s Career Services Office, encourages students to start a lifelong commitment to volunteer service while in law school. Dean Ray presented Portwood Gordon with a special commendation at the ceremony for her dedication to the program. Pictured are St. Thomas students who painted and renovated a local preschool during a weekend public service event.

[Revised: 04-07-2014]