St. Thomas Law Celebrates Student Community Service

St. Thomas University School of Law students show that their commitment to the profession goes beyond just the classroom by performing 23,000 hours of pro bono work in the community each year. On April 10th, at its Second Annual Public Service Awards Ceremony, the School honored 77 students who each completed more than 100 individual hours of pro bono service. “Today we celebrate the difference a lawyer can make in people’s lives and the particular difference our students make in this community,” said Dean Douglas Ray. Law student Marbely Hernandez was specially commended for providing over 1,200 hours of volunteer law related service, while students Francoise Blanco and Mitch Altman won awards for their work with low income taxpayers.

Howard Blumberg, Esq., Dade County Assistant Public Defender and Adjunct Professor, gave the keynote address at the Ceremony and also was named Outstanding Public Service Supervisor for his steadfast commitment to the School’s Pro Bono Leadership Program. After sharing with students his recent experience arguing in the U.S. Supreme Court, Professor Blumberg spoke of the many satisfactions of a career spent in public service. He noted that, “By providing quality legal representation on appeal to clients who cannot afford to hire their own lawyers, and by treating those clients with respect and dignity, I feel I have been able to make those clients feel that at least one person in the legal system truly cares about them.”

St. Thomas Law’s Pro Bono Leadership Program, directed by Jennifer Portwood Gordon, Esq., of the School’s Career Services Office, encourages students to start a lifelong commitment to volunteer service while in law school. Dean Ray presented Mrs. Portwood Gordon with a special commendation for her dedication to the Program. In addition to directing the Program and helping students find volunteer opportunities, Mrs. Portwood Gordon has arranged more than a dozen weekend community service group projects for students, including painting and renovating a preschool, helping with weekend Lawyers to the Rescue legal clinics for the homeless and underprivileged, Miami Children’s Hospital events, and a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.   

St. Thomas Law student Marbely Hernandez
honored for providing more than 1,200 hours
of volunteer service.