1978: Law School Dean Morant Inspiring Citizen Lawyers
By Rebecca Barns
Wake Forest University School of Law Dean Blake D. Morant ’78 received Equal Justice Works’ 2010 John R. Kramer Outstanding Law School Dean Award. The award honors a dean who demonstrates leadership in building and maintaining a strong spirit of public service.
Dean Morant was nominated for the award by a student executive board of Wake Forest Law’s Pro Bono Project for his efforts to foster public service values and the opportunities created for future public interest lawyers. “Citizen Lawyers are attorneys who give of their time and talents for the betterment of society,” said Morant. “That has been the historic role of lawyers, and that essential role becomes lost in the more stereotypical view of our profession. Wake Forest University has as its motto, ‘pro humanitate.’ The combination of the university’s mission to help humankind, together with the need for lawyers to uplift society, compels the legal academy to emphasize to our students this noble ambition.”
Since 2007, the year Morant began his tenure, he has guided the law school in a strengthened commitment to pro bono service, public interest careers, and community outreach. The Community Law and Business Clinic and the Innocence and Justice Clinic have been added to the four clinics already in existence for public interest law. The Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Externship Program and the Journal of Law and Policy, which promotes scholarship in the field of public interest law, have also been established.
The Pro Bono Project places students on pro bono cases, hosts service events, and plans service trips. The Public Interest Initiative promotes careers in the public interest by connecting law students to job opportunities, leaders in the field of public interest, volunteer work, grants and fellowships, and mentors. The law school’s recently established Public Interest Retreat connects Wake Forest law students with alumni who serve in the public interest.
“The status quo, though laudatory, will not be enough to meet the obligation to help society,” said Morant. “With the assistance of our dedicated staff, the faculty, and students, we hope to expand the humanitarian reach of our efforts to include pipeline programs to inspire K-12 students to achieve and become engaged citizens.” He also hopes to broaden outreach programs through his work on the ABA National Pro Bono Summit Planning Committee.
Dean Morant received this honor at the Equal Justice Works annual awards dinner, held on October 21 in the District of Columbia. The dinner, one of the largest gatherings of supporters of public interest law in the U.S., honors men and women who have made exceptional strides toward achieving equal justice on behalf of the underserved. The past two recipients were Larry Kramer of Stanford Law School and Elena Kagan of Harvard Law School.