On April 6, 2011, students, faculty, and alumni gathered to honor students who gave their time and talent to help underserved communities through a wide range of internships, pro bono projects and volunteer opportunities offered at Brooklyn Law School.
In her opening remarks, Professor Stacy Caplow, Director of Clinical Education, congratulated all of the hard working, selfless students, and noted how many more school and student-sponsored activities there are now in contrast to the early days of BLSPI.
Members of the class of 2011, poised to embark on a wide array of careers, have performed exceptional pro bono and public service work in organizations ranging from The Legal Aid Society to United Nations offices, from Advocates for Children to the New York State Division of Human Rights. Students performed over 33,000 hours helping domestic violence victims, immigrants, the unemployed, those seeking health care, low-income tax-payers, children, prisoners, asylum seekers, veterans, and many others.
Steven Landis ’92, co-founder of BLSPI, said, “It is wonderful to create a program and to have it continue and grow over 20 years. BLSPI has raised over $1 million for student-funded public interest law fellowships, which has enabled countless numbers of students to foster a public interest career. Public service is an integral part of being an attorney. It was central to my going to law school and being a Sparer Fellow and a BLSPI co-founder, and it continues as part of my practice today in my work on the Board of Directors at the New York County Lawyers’ Association.”
The Honorable Ramon E. Reyes Jr. ’92 gave the keynote address, acknowledging the students’ accomplishments and the challenges they face today, encouraging them to continue with their pro bono activities even if they were not entering public service careers. He commented on the impressive work done by the award recipients, both in terms of the breadth of work and the actual number of hours they contributed to public service work. “Brooklyn Law School has a well-deserved reputation of fostering a commitment to public service in its students, and training those students to become excellent public service attorneys. As a BLS alumnus and adjunct professor, I am very proud of the students' achievement and of BLS's commitment to public service and to public interest law. I'm also proud of BLSPI's role in all of this, being the husband of one of the BLSPI co-founders –my wife, Jane M. Landry-Reyes, who is a member of the class of 1993.”
Erica Kyzmir ‘11, received a Faculty Award for demonstrating extraordinary commitment to underserved populations. She volunteered at the Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office (CLARO), providing legal advice to low-income litigants, and was co-chair of CLARO her first year. She worked at the New York State Housing Finance Agency, and the New York Legal Assistance Group showcased her work with their Foreclosure Prevention Project in its quarterly newsletter. A recipient of the CALI Award for Mental Health Law, Kyzmir continues to advocate on behalf of consumer debtors in the Bronx Volunteer Lawyer for a Day Project.
William Spirer ’11 and Amy Hsieh ‘11 received honorable mention awards. Spirer took an early leadership role in CLARO and helped found a pro bono project – the Law and Education Resource Network – that raises awareness about and provides advocacy on education law issues. He has dedicated his time to education advocacy and consumer protection volunteering in CLARO, LERN, New Orleans Legal Assistance, the housing unit of Brooklyn Legal Services, Corp A, and Brooklyn Law School’s Community Development and the Federal Civil Litigation clinics.
Hsieh has focused on issues at the crossroads of health care and human rights and worked at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Social Security Adjudication Unit, and the New York State Attorney General’s Health Care Bureau, as well at the UNHCR and Human Rights Watch. She is also a member of the Moot Court Honor Society and an active member of the Health Law Society.
Elizabeth Kane, Director of the Public Service Office said, “All these students exemplify the best in the profession and have made the world a better place. The faculty and administration, as well as their peers inspired by their work join in congratulating them.”
Graduating students who have performed outstanding public service work received one of four awards: platinum, gold, silver, and public service awards. They are:
Platinum Public Service Awards:
Gold Public Service Awards:
Silver Public Service Awards:
Public Service Awards: