Adam Saxby named Pro Bono Law Student of the Year

Adam Saxby, a third-year student at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, has been named “Pro Bono Law Student of the Year” by the Utah Bar Association for 2016.

Saxby worked countless hours on a number of pro bono initiatives throughout his time at the law school, establishing himself as a leader on a number of projects at the U’s Pro Bono Initiative Office, said JoLynn Spruance, the office’s director.

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Among his many accomplishments, Saxby created a new system within the Pro Bono Initiative Legal Clinics to focus on helping refugees gain better access to legal services.

“Adam Saxby is well deserving of the Utah State Bar’s Law Student Pro Bono Award.  He is held in high esteem by the staff and faculty here at the College of Law, and has been a true mentor to many of his fellow classmates,” said Spruance.

Kay Shelton, associate director of the law school’s clinical program, noted that Saxby dedicated more than 650 hours of service through various projects.

“Adam took full advantage of the College of Law’s Clinical Program. He participated in internships at Hill Air Force Base and the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center. Adam also enrolled for a semester in the law school’s in-house Public Policy Clinic, where he did legislative research and contributed to the report “From Fingerpaint to Fingerprints:  The School-to Prison Pipeline Report in Utah,” said Shelton.

That report, titled “From Fingerpaints to Fingerprints: The School-to-Prison Pipeline in Utah,”  examined school discipline rates in Utah on a broad level. It found, through U.S. Department of Education data, that there are higher discipline rates for Utah’s students of color and students with disabilities, which makes them less likely to graduate high school and succeed later in life.  The report received national media attention, and in its aftermath, law students collaborated with community partners and organized several initiatives —including a symposium — to try to shed light on the issue. As a result of the report, Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, introduced legislation aimed at addressing the school-to-prison pipeline in Utah.

Prior to law school, Saxby served in the United States Marine Corps from 2003-2007.  He was promoted four times in three years, including a meritorious promotion to corporal, a distinction given for being a strong leader. He led Marines in both training exercises and combat operations.  He also assisted in training foreign military personnel.

Saxby continued his service by becoming president of the Student Veterans Association at the law school. As president, he facilitated public service ranging from community service projects involving manual labor to running the “Toys for Tots” holiday drive for the entire University of Utah, said Joseph Rupp, a retired lieutenant colonel who also served in the Marines and will graduate with the law school class of 2017.

“He is the consummate mentor and servant leader.  Adam is an excellent and well deserving candidate for this award,” said Rupp.

Jim Holbrook, a law professor and faculty advisor to the law school’s Student Veterans Association, echoed Rupp’s compliments of Saxby.

“His commitment, dedication, and responsibility in serving others in need are commendable and merit recognition by the Utah State Bar,” said Holbrook.

Stewart P. Ralphs, executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake, praised Saxby’s service to others. Saxby worked as co-director of the law school’s Family Law Clinic and Rainbow Clinic, where Ralphs served as supervising attorney.

Ralphs said he was impressed by Saxby’s skill in overseeing the smooth running of the clinics while providing seasoned leadership to deal with problems related to clinic clients and volunteers.

“In doing so he has treated complainants with dignity and respect while upholding the mission and objectives of the clinics.  I can think of no one more deserving of this recognition and our thanks as members of the legal profession,” said Ralphs.

Saxby’s award was given in connection with the Utah State Bar’s Law Day activities, observed the week of May 1.