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Memphis Law Student Recognized for Pro Bono Work
Award presented to 2013 'Student Volunteer of the Year' at luncheon
NASHVILLE, Jan. 25, 2013 -- Chris Martin, a third-year student at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, was honored with the state's top award for law student pro bono work by the Tennessee Bar Association at a luncheon on Saturday. Held each year as part of the association's Leadership Conference, the event featured award winners in several categories and a keynote address by Deborah Taylor Tate, a Tennessee lawyer and former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission.
The 2013 Student Volunteer of the Year Award is given annually to a Tennessee law school student who performs outstanding volunteer service to one or more organizations providing legal representation to the poor. This year's award was presented to Martin by Alexandra MacKay, chair of the TBA's Access to Justice Committee and member with the Nashville law firm of Stites & Harbison.
Martin was recognized for his work with a variety of organizations. He has served as a volunteer with Memphis Area Legal Services, as an intern with the Memphis city attorney's office, as a Youth Court mentor for the Memphis & Shelby County Juvenile Court, and as a volunteer with the Shelby County Public Defender's Office. Martin also been president of the University of Memphis Public Action Law Society, during which, he recruited and organized law students to help with Project Homeless Connect - a one-day event matching the homeless with resources, services and legal help.
In addition to a personal commitment to service, Martin is a leader at his school, encouraging others to engage in pro bono work. One example of his leadership is the Alternative Spring Break, which calls on students to spend their week volunteering with legal groups that serve the poor. As a first year law student, Martin participated in a project. As a second year student, he organized one project. Now, as a third year student, he will oversee the entire weeklong program in March, which involves students from the University of Memphis School of Law, the University of Tennessee College of Law and others from outside the state.
Martin earned a degree in journalism/electronic media from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 2009. After graduation from law school, he hopes to find a job with a government agency, a nonprofit or work in conflict resolution.
Speaking at the luncheon, TBA President Jackie Dixon congratulated Martin, saying he had gone above and beyond in his commitment to provide access to justice for those in need. She also commented on the importance of the award, saying it provides a unique opportunity to recognize the public service commitment of Tennessee law students and celebrate the many ways students are reducing barriers to legal assistance in the state. She concluded with a challenge to lawyers in the room to do more, saying the event was also "a reminder of the vast unmet legal needs of the underserved in our state."
The Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) is the largest professional association in Tennessee with more than 11,000 members. Founded in 1881, the TBA provides opportunities for continuing legal education, professional development and public service. The TBA’s dedication to serving the state’s legal community is evidenced by its membership roll, which represents the entire spectrum of legal practice: plaintiff and defense lawyers, corporate counsel, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, government lawyers and legal services attorneys.