Tuesday August 14, 2012

3L Receives State Bar Fellowship for Pro Bono Work

A University of Dayton School of Law student who spent his summer doing pro bono legal work has received a new fellowship from the Ohio State Bar Association.

A University of Dayton School of Law student who spent his summer doing pro bono legal work is one of the first recipients of a new fellowship from the Ohio State Bar Association.

Jonathan Kenney, who is entering his third year of law school this fall, is one of two Ohio law students to receive the new Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer Fellowship.

The annual fellowship is awarded to two students from Ohio law schools. It honors the late chief justice’s commitment to improving access to courts, advancing civility and ethics, and promoting civic education. Fellowship recipients receive $3,000 from the Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer Legacy Fund and $1,000 from their law schools to fund summer opportunities advancing these principles.

During the summer, Kenney interned in the Dayton office of Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), Inc., a nonprofit law firm that provides legal assistance in civil matters to eligible low-income individuals and groups in western Ohio.

He worked on the firm’s home preservation project, helping with foreclosure defense for indigent Ohioans. His work included researching contemporary lending issues for large-scale impact litigation and finding clients for a class-action lawsuit. He also helped prepare for three oral arguments in the Second District Ohio Court of Appeals.

“I was raised by a single parent, with three siblings, so I witnessed the financial hardships a family could bear,” Kenney said. “I am extending my education to include knowledge of the law, and I am devoted to using that specialized training and to spending my career serving the community.”

He said the internship provided the kinds of valuable experiential-learning opportunities that a student can only gain in the field. “Not only have I learned how to efficiently operate in a firm and a courthouse, he said, “but I've also learned the importance of public interest work in the law.”

The experience, he said, taught him that no matter a person’s history or socioeconomic background, he or she is entitled to full access to the judicial system. “Unfortunately in our society, there is an imbalance in the access to that system,” Kenney said, “and it is the nonprofits such as ABLE that work to restore that balance.”

His experience with ABLE, he said, was humbling and “taught me hard work, dedication and perseverance that will . . . ultimately make me a better person and attorney.”

Kenney described working at ABLE as inspiring. “I work with some of the most brilliant attorneys I have ever met who could easily find employment elsewhere but choose to stay because they believe in what they are doing,” he said.

In addition to the Moyer Fellowship, Kenney was one of six Dayton Law students to receive the law school’s Lisa A. Kloppenberg Public Interest Award, which helps support unpaid volunteer internships of students working in public interest law.

Community service is a centerpiece of a legal education at the University of Dayton School of Law. Each year, the School of Law honors students who complete at least 50 hours of community service and pro bono work with the Pro Bono Commitment to Community Award. In the last three years, Dayton Law students have contributed more than 30,000 total hours of community service during their time in law school.

For more information, contact Bob Mihalek, communication specialist at the University of Dayton School of Law, at 937-229-4683 or bob.mihalek@udayton.edu.