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Elon Law honored for student pro bono work

The North Carolina Bar Association’s 2017 Law Student Group Pro Bono Award recognizes efforts at Elon Law to help regional attorneys who represent asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their home countries.

Elon Law's Pro Bono Board for 2017-18

The North Carolina Bar Association has honored Elon Law with an annual award that recognizes student pro bono projects benefiting low-income residents throughout the state.

The Elon University School of Law Pro Bono Board, in coordination with the law school’s Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic, received the bar association’s 2017 Law Student Group Pro Bono Award for a program to help lawyers representing clients seeking asylum before the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Students who take part in the Country Conditions Project document in detail, using multiple sources, the social and political attitudes and treatment of oppressed persons in a specific country or region. Their reports aid attorneys and organizations seeking to secure the protection of asylum for clients who would otherwise be harmed or killed if required to return to their home countries.  

Each report is specifically tailored to the particularly claims of the asylum applicant.

“The Pro Bono Board and the students of Elon Law have dedicated themselves to positively impacting our community,” said Lauren Hossfeld, Class of December 2017 and current president of the Elon Law Pro Bono Board. “Law school comes with many responsibilities. However, those who worked on this project went above and beyond their roles as law students to be active advocates and positively impact the lives of individuals seeking refuge in our country.”

Elon Law's student-run Pro Board Board coordinates with students, organizations, faculty, administration, and the legal community to help assure that there are a number of opportunities available and that we are constantly developing new ways to serve the community. 

Established in the fall of 2011, the Pro Bono Board has increased awareness among the student body about pro bono opportunities throughout the state and has helped to create additional service projects for students. 

The Country Conditions Project predates current events that have thrust immigration law to the forefront of public debate. By providing critical research assistance to attorneys working on behalf of refugees and their families, organizers said, Elon Law students demonstrate a commitment to global engagement and leadership that is at the heart of Elon University’s mission statement.

"This award represents the hard work and commitment of our student volunteers who dedicate their time help members of the community,” said Melissa Stoll, Class of May 2017 and past president of the Elon Law Pro Bono Board. “Students who have dedicated their time to this project spend about three weeks per report and up to 30 hours gathering detailed, comprehensive research. Over the past year, seven Elon Law students have completed nine reports, allowing attorneys to use the large amount of time it would take to prepare such a report to take more cases and help more clients seeking asylum.”

Elon Law’s award is one of six to be formally presented in Asheville when the NCBA hosts its President’s Luncheon on June 23, 2017, during the association’s annual meeting. Other award recipients are:

  • William L. Esser of Parker Poe in Charlotte (William Thorp Pro Bono Service Award)
  • Wake County Bar Association’s Pro Bono Expunction Project (Chief Justice Award)
  • Jim Holloway of Legal Aid of North Carolina in Sylva (Deborah Greenblatt Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award)
  • Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP of Raleigh (Large Law Firm Award)
  • Garrity & Gossage, LLP of Matthews (Small and Medium Law Firm Award)

For questions regarding the Pro Bono Board or pro bono service at Elon Law, contact board advisor Jennifer Gibert Mencarini at jmencarini2@elon.edu.


Eric Townsend,
4/6/2017 4:35 PM