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Pro Bono, Public Interest Students Honored During Annual Luncheon

By Lori Atherton

There are two public service paths law students can follow, said Laurel Dumont, '05. One is working in an area where you have a passion for a particular issue and want to achieve something. The other is to "be where you can serve, adding value without being focused on a particular outcome." Dumont chose the second path, she told an audience of Michigan Law students and alumni at the Public Service Sendoff on April 11. The event honored students who have performed at least 50 hours of pro bono work as well as those who are planning to work in public interest or government during the summer and post-graduation.

A former teacher, Dumont received a dual degree in law and social work from Michigan, and after working as a staff attorney with Essex-Newark Legal Services and as legal and policy counsel at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, went on to found The Center for Collaborative Change in Newark three years ago. The nonprofit organization brings together people, resources, and ideas to meet the needs of the community and help alleviate poverty.

"We want to move the needle on things that affect quality of life, but we want to be inclusive of the community," Dumont said.

View an image gallery of the event.

While it's natural for public interest students to be concerned about the future, Dumont said it's important to be flexible—"sometimes the path you follow will hit a wall and grow into something else"—and to realize that a career in public service doesn't result in a bleak existence. "You can live in a nice place and enjoy life," she said.

Following Dumont's talk, Amy Sankaran, '01, director of externships and pro bono programs, recognized the recipients of the Pro Bono Service Award: 1L Megan Sanders, 2L Joseph Morrison, and 3L Rachel Burg. In addition, Steve Gray of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Project was honored with the Outstanding Supervisor Award, and Future Advocates in Training (FAIT) was named the Outstanding Pro Bono Project.

During their three years at Michigan Law, members of the 3L class completed 9,800.61 hours of pro bono work, Sankaran said.


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