Being a young lawyer can be challenging, and fitting pro bono service takes dedication. This year, Alex Vandiver is the 2023 Pro Bono Publico Young Lawyer of the Year. Ms. Vandiver cares about people and shows her willingness to go above and beyond as a consistent volunteer through several Utah State Bar pro bono programs. She is a part of the litigation, trials, and appeals, and the environmental and natural resources groups at Parson Behle and Latimer. She routinely volunteers on the Pro Se Debt Collection calendar and is willing to tackle the most complex and difficult hearings. She is a model volunteer showing care and discretion as she helps her clients decide to either settle or argue cases in various hearings. Ms. Vandiver also volunteers weekly through the Virtual Legal Clinic. Her service ensures these people in need can have a 20-30 minute phone call to discuss their issues. Ms. Vandiver is a true believer in the program. She helps recruit other volunteers and even published an article in the Utah State Bar Journal to promote the clinic. Even during law school at S.J. Quinney, she demonstrated her conviction and dedication as a Pro Bono Initiative Fellow overseeing several clinics that provided free brief legal consultation to low-income communities throughout the Salt Lake Valley.
Greenberg Traurig is the 2023 Pro Bono Publico Law Firm of the Year. As a newer firm in the Utah area, GT encouraged their attorneys to get involved and provide volunteer support. They started right away taking a week on a pro se calendar to serve people without lawyers needing help with housing issues on the Third District immediate occupancy consolidated calendar. While many people provide limited scope representation, it is even more impressive when a firm commits to regularly appear each month on a set week. Greenberg Traurig provided a firm lead to recruit and provide 2-3 lawyers each month. More than just showing up, they provided excellent legal service to many pro se clients who otherwise would not have had an opportunity to get legal representation. GT expanded their pro bono work to be involved in national initiatives. For example, Greenberg Traurig’s Salt Lake attorneys helped the community by connecting Ukrainian refugees with local immigration non-profits. These refugees were able to file for either Temporary Protective States, employment authorization, and/or advanced parole with GT’s help. They supported more than 100 Ukrainian refugees in these national efforts. This was in partnership with the New York Legal Assistance Group and its Ukrainian Immigration Assistance Project. They also donated up to $2 million in humanitarian aid in addition to financial donations from attorneys and professional staff.
Here are just a few examples of what all these law students accomplished. PILF students attended the Tuesday night Family Justice Center Clinic to assist people in person and online. They showed up even when they were not getting academic credit. They also served at Timpanogos Legal Center. They helped at the document review clinic and on special projects. In February, they hosted the annual PILF auction to raise money for stipends to allow students to do public interest work for their summer internships. The auction this year was very successful and raised over $10,000. PILF students were pivotal in planning, advertising, setting up, and hosting the Fourth District Pro Bono Committee Celebration last October. Also in October, PILF also hosted the first Public Interest Career Fair held at BYU. They invited local organizations to participate and encourage law students to find jobs in public interest work. These students showed great professionalism and kindness, particularly for clients going through difficult circumstances. We commend them for their legal knowledge, their patience, and understanding. They are creative and innovative leaders. They have expanded PILF’s impact and strengthened local Utahns access to equal justice.