The Catholic University of America

Pro Bono "Stars" Return to Encourage Service to Others

There is a death row inmate in Texas whose sentence has yet to be carried out. If Brian Stolarz, 1998, has his way, it never will be. Stolarz has tirelessly represented the convicted felon pro bono for more than three years, convinced of his innocence and incensed at the system that keeps him in jail.

The story was among a number of examples of pro bono work shared with CUA law students on Pro Bono Day, held on Oct. 13 in conjunction with the with the ABA’s National Celebration of Pro Bono Week.

Stolarz was one of two CUA law alumni whose free representation of indigent clients, as in the Texas case, has merited the recognition of the John Carroll Society, which awarded him its pro bono lawyer of the year award not long ago.

In recounting his tale to students, Stolarz left them with a plea.

“So please, as a law student or as a lawyer, stand up for someone or something,” he said.

Brian Stolarz, 1998, urged current CUA law students to "start now and stay engaged" with pro bono service.

Students also heard from John E. McCarthy Jr., 1989, who maintains a busy practice at Crowell & Moring, LLP but still finds time to take on the causes of “people who would be run over by the system” if he didn’t intercede.

“With pro bono cases, you get a chance to drastically change someone’s life for the better,” McCarthy told students. “I’ve never had a billable case that’s given me one-tenth of the satisfaction.” McCarthy has also been honored with the John Carroll Society’s pro bono lawyer of the year award.

Nadjejda Nelson, a third year law student, also chimed in. She accompanied Professor Sandy Ogilvy on a fact-finding mission to her native Haiti in 2008 to a serve as a guide and interpreter. Nelson has also volunteered with the Peace Corps and worked with the South African international community.

“You always want an opportunity to go back and to give back,” she said.

Pro Bono Day at CUA law concluded with a reception, having offered a persuasive appeal to students to make service to others a life-long priority and commitment.