Georgetown University Law Center Dean Judith Areen received the Equal Justice Works’ 2003 Outstanding Law School Dean Award for her efforts to promote public interest law in the school’s curriculum.

Areen, who will step down as dean and return to teaching at the end of this school year, has worked to make public interest law more prominent in and outside the classroom. She established the Office of Public Interest and Community Service and the Pro Bono Pledge, which asks each student to do 75 hours of pro bono work before graduation. She also revamped the Loan Repayment Assistance Program, which gives needy students the opportunity to attend Georgetown Law.

“We get many letters from students in jobs in poor areas who say the only reason they are where they are is because of the loan assistance program,” Areen said. In addition, the loan assistance program is encouraging more students to become involved in public service.

“Most graduating law students cannot work for the federal government since the salary is too low, even though eventually they will be promoted enough to make money to pay off their loans,” she said. “We see the program as a bridge to finance public service.”

Areen has also expanded the career advising center to support students interested in public sector law with two full-time advisors who guide students into government fellowships and academic internships.

OPICS has been a powerful force toward stimulating participation in public law. The office works to network alumni and students and also focuses guiding students interested in public interest law.

“These reforms do not come from me but rather Georgetown’s Jesuit tradition,” she said, adding that many of these changes came from students.

On top of transforming the support programs, Areen has been credited with building Georgetown into one of the top overall law schools in the U.S. News and World Report annual rankings, especially in international law and clinical training, where it competes with schools such as Harvard and Columbia.

Since her tenure, Areen has made clinical training an integral part of the curriculum, with nearly 60 percent of all students participating in one of the 14 clinical courses.

“The broadness of our program, which includes the loan assistance program and our broad commitment to public service, truly makes it unique,” she said.

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