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In the fall of 2008, as Vermont Law School student Lise Daniels was beginning her second year of law school, the mother of four saw a need for lower-income legal aid in her rural New Hampshire community. Daniels’ Schweitzer project, which began as an ambitious attempt to open a satellite office for an existing agency (Mascoma Legal Assistance), became the launching of an independent entity, the Mascoma Legal Resource Center, which offers low-income individuals legal information and advice.

Now, Daniels is receiving national acclaim for her commitment to melding a legal career with public service: she is one of two individuals to earn an Honorable Mention for the 15th Annual PSLawnet Pro Bono Publico Award, which recognizes law students who have demonstrated exemplary commitment to their communities.

PSLawnet (Public Service Law Network) is the online career networking arm of NALP, a nonprofit member association committed to facilitating legal careers in public service. When it was established in 1989, PSLawNet was intended to serve law students interested in volunteering as the first easily searchable database of organizations that serve under-represented communities.  It has evolved into the hub of NALP’s resources in linking public-interest minded law students and attorneys with appropriate job and volunteer opportunities.

The press release announcing Daniels’ selection reads:

Lise used an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship opportunity to open the Mascoma Legal Resource Center in her hometown of Canaan, New Hampshire. Though Lise is a full-time law student and mother of four, she spends at least 10 hours a week holding office hours in the Center, and many more ensuring that the Center remains viable and offers top-quality information and referrals in an underserved region. Her dedication to the Center and to the ideal of equal access to critical legal information for all people is an inspiration to her classmates and the clients of the Center.

Daniels isn’t the only Schweitzer Fellow who’s applying her legal training in the interests of underserved communities. Next week, we’ll have a “Five Questions for a Fellow” interview with Vermont Law School student Brian Jones, who as a Schweitzer Fellow developed an education and outreach program that combats the problems of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

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