Belmont Law Student Recognized for Pro Bono Work - Articles

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Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 16, 2014

Award to be presented to Katie Blankenship at luncheon Saturday

NASHVILLE, Jan. 25, 2013 — Katie Blankenship, a third-year student at the Belmont University College of Law, will be honored with the state’s top award for law student pro bono work at a luncheon ceremony Saturday in Nashville.

The award will be presented by the Tennessee Bar Association at its 2014 Public Service Luncheon at the War Memorial Auditorium. Held each year as part of the association’s Leadership Conference, the luncheon features honorees in several categories and will include an address by Clarksville Mayor and former Tennessee House Majority Leader Kim McMillan. TBA President Cindy Wyrick also will deliver remarks at the luncheon.  

Blankenship will be honored with the state’s top award for law student pro bono work for her intense devotion to serving those most in need of access to justice. As a member of the inaugural class of Belmont University College of Law, Blakenship has helped establish the Belmont Legal Aid Society and two legal clinics for nonprofits in the city: one for Magdalene House, which helps former prostitutes finish their education, learn productive job skills and reunite with their families, and Sophia’s Heart, which serves children and families affected by poverty, sickness, disease and broken homes.

Blakenship also has dedicated countless volunteer hours to other Middle Tennessee legal advocacy organizations, including Justice for Our Neighbors, Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Right’s Coalition, the Hannah Project and Volunteer Lawyers & Professionals for the Arts.

“In her past two years of law school, Katie has devoted more time and effort than most attorneys do in an entire career,” says Belmont Law Professor Ellen Black in her nomination of Blankenship for the award. “Her history of service to pro bono organizations speaks for itself, and she serves as a tremendous role model to the law school community and the Nashville legal community. As a law student, she is already making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.”

In addition to a personal commitment to service, Blankenship is recognized as a leader at her school, encouraging others to engage in pro bono work. She is completing her final semester of law school and this fall will start a clerkship with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee in Knoxville, serving in the chambers of the Hon. C. Clifford Shirley and the Hon. H. Bruce Guyton.

The Law 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. The award will be presented by Alexandra MacKay, chair of the TBA’s Access to Justice Committee and member in the Nashville office of Stites & Harbison.