The Catholic University of America

 

 

 

 

Students Urged to Engage in Pro Bono Service Now

 

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Commitment to pro bono service to others has been a hallmark of a legal education at Catholic University for decades, but there is no reason to wait until graduation to begin. 

On November 11, students were reminded of the many opportunities available to them right now by three speakers who truly ‘walk the walk’ when it comes to volunteerism.
 
The speaking program, “Pro Bono Work to Help Others Today (and Your Career Tomorrow)” was the fall semester’s third installment in the law school’s new, six-part Faith in Action series that explores issues of faith, justice and service.
 
Speaking first, Professor Mark Rienzi (top left) traced his own history of involvement in pro bono representation of causes and cases that he cares deeply about. Through his affiliation with Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Rienzi has elected to devote countless unbilled hours to litigating cases that test the constitutional boundaries between church and state.
 
Rienzi told the students that such pro bono work—an academic and professional passion of his—has helped him to grow professionally and not incidentally, become a nationally recognized expert in the process.
“I’ll probably be doing this for another 70 years” he quipped to the student audience.
 
Jennifer Tschirch (top, center) coordinator of pro bono activities for the Columbus School of Law, reminded students of the resources available to them in support of pro bono service.
 
“It’s really fantastic here, in a safe environment, for you to engage in pro bono work,” said Tschirch, who noted that in a growing number of jurisdictions such as New York, a minimum number of pro bono service hours are required for bar passage.
 
“It’s an important sign of where the country is headed in response to the justice-service gap,” she said.
Tschirch spent a few minutes outlining some of the D.C. area’s many outlets for pro bono service.  
 
The final speaker was Emmjolee Mendoza Waters (top, right) associate director of Campus Ministry and Community Service for The Catholic University of America. She urged students not to shy away from volunteering by thinking they have made a commitment they cannot fulfill. Even an hour a week helps somebody, she explained.
 
“Every single day of the week there’s an opportunity to volunteer,” said Waters.
 
Whatever one’s motive to engaging in pro bono service, the bottom line, said Tschirch, is “it just plain feels good to help people.”

Three additional Faith in Action program are planned for the spring semester.