Clinical Professor of Law Jennifer A. Gundlach has received the 2017 Deborah L. Rhode Award from the AALS Section on Pro Bono and Service Opportunities.
The Rhode Award is given annually to a full-time faculty member or dean who has made an outstanding contribution to increasing pro bono and public service opportunities in the law school setting.
In announcing Professor Gundlach, who served as the first dean of experiential education at Hofstra Law, as this year’s recipient, the selection committee commended her “significant role in creating and strengthening opportunities for Hofstra Law students and new lawyers to engage in social justice work, in addition to engaging in the broader access to justice movement in New York.”
Professor Gundlach’s many efforts in increasing pro bono and public service opportunities at Hofstra Law include:
- overseeing the expansion of pro bono offerings for students, among them several that were developed by students, such as the Veterans Legal Assistance Project (VLAP), which received a 2014 New York State Bar Association President’s Pro Bono Service Award
- launching the first semester-in-practice program, Hofstra Law in D.C. (HLDC), in which students work full time in the nation’s capital as an unpaid legal extern at an approved congressional office or committee, federal government agency, nonprofit organization, or public interest group
- implementing the Pro Bono Scholars Program, a semester-in-practice program in which students spend their final semester of law school providing 500 hours of legal assistance in organizations such as The Safe Center LI, New York Legal Assistance Group, and Nassau/Suffolk Law Services
- reviving the Public Service Awards Program to honor graduating students who have devoted from 250 to 750 or more hours to public service during their three years at Hofstra Law
- playing a critical role in establishing the Gitenstein Institute for Health Law and Policy, which works to develop and implement new approaches to providing high-quality, affordable health care to those who now cannot afford it
- establishing the Hofstra Law Access to Justice Incubator, in which four postdoctoral fellows work under the supervision of an experienced attorney to provide civil legal services to low-income clients in critical areas of need such as guardianships, obtaining special immigrant juvenile status for unaccompanied minors, and processing name-change applications for transgender youth
“Jen has continuously pushed the faculty and administration to improve and increase Hofstra Law’s pro bono and public service commitment through her creativity, inspiration and leadership,” said Dean Eric Lane. “And she has continuously succeeded.”
The selection committee also noted that, in addition to her work at Hofstra Law, Professor Gundlach serves as co-chair to the Access to Justice Council and is a member of the Nassau County Bar Association Access to Justice Committee, as well as the New York State Pro Bono Scholars Program Committee.
Professor Gundlach will be presented with her award on Jan. 4, 2017, during the AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco.