Ciolfi's Service Honored by Virginia State Bar Pro Bono Award
Third-year Law student Angela Adair Ciolfi has been selected to receive the Virginia State Bar's Oliver White Hill Law Student Pro Bono Award for her service in helping meet the legal needs of low-income children and families. Ciolfi is the second honoree of the annual award and the first for the Law School.
"Angela has consistently demonstrated her commitment to serving those members of our society who lack access to adequate legal representation. Unlike many law students who simply profess such a commitment, Angela has been out in the community volunteering to serve the poorest of the poor," said Assistant Dean for Public Service Kimberly Emery, who nominated Ciolfi for the award. "I am absolutely delighted that the VSB has decided to honor her service."
While logging more than 200 pro bono hours with advocacy organizations like the Post-Conviction Criminal Assistance Project, the Charlottesville/Albemarle Public Defender Office, and the Legal Aid Justice Center's "Just Children" office, Ciolfi also found time to pursue her interests during her summers. She worked for law professor Jim Ryan her first summer, researching education reform and the needs of urban, at-risk youth — a job that cemented her dedication to education issues among low-income families. Before that, "I was always interested in the law, but I didn't really know in what capacity," said Ciolfi, a graduate of William & Mary.
"I think there's a gaping need for this kind of work. I enjoy the clients and I enjoy the people who are also devoted to serving this population," Ciolfi said. "I think it gives you a chance to research novel issues and be creative with solutions."
Ciolfi spent her second summer on the West Coast, working for the Seattle Defender Association, where she continued to advocate for children.
"A lot of the kids that came into contact with the court were there partly because there were needs not being fulfilled in their educational life," she said.
Ciolfi has previously been honored as a Fairstein Public Service Fellow, a Bryant Fellow (now the Buffet fellowship, offered through the University's Center for Children, Families and the Law), and a Raven Scholar. She also served on the editorial board of the Virginia Law Review.
Nest year she plans to clerk for Federal District Court Judge Reginald Lindsay in Boston. After that, she said she will apply for fellowships to continue her public service work.
"I would like to represent kids, probably in the educational context," said Ciolfi, noting her mom was a teacher.
Ciolfi said she felt very honored by the award because of Hill's reputation as a segregation-era civil-rights lawyer. Hill and his team helped file numerous suits to make racial equality in Virginia a reality, and he was involved with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's legendary Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education.
Ciolfi said she was surprised at receiving the award, since so many students contribute many hours to public service at the Law School. "I'm glad that U.Va.'s commitment to pro bono can be recognized," she said.
Ciolfi will receive her award at the Annual Virginia State Bar Pro Bono Conference on May 8 at the University of Richmond. The award is sponsored by the Bar's Special Committee on Access to Legal Services.