Wake Forest University School of Law student Darrien Jones has been honored as the recipient of the 2022 Smith Anderson Pro Bono Award for Exceptional Service for his passion, creativity and dedication to serving people in need and for his outstanding pro bono service to the community.
Smith Anderson, the largest business and litigation law firm based in the Research Triangle region of North Carolina, funded the Smith Anderson Office of Community Outreach establishment eight years ago at Wake Forest Law, which houses the pro bono project and expungement clinic. Since then, Wake Forest Law has honored a superb law student annually with the Pro Bono Award for Exceptional Service.
“Darrien’s commitment to community service and justice reflects well on the entire law school, and we applaud his exemplary dedication to pro bono work,” said Gerald Roach, Smith Anderson’s chair and immediate past chair of the Wake Forest University Board of Trustees.
Among his pro bono service, Darrien is the co-coordinator of the law school’s expungement clinic. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he helped transition the program to an online/call platform. In the past year alone, volunteers completed 175 criminal record reviews and expunged the criminal records of 50 people.
“Pro bono work isn’t just an afterthought at Wake Forest Law,” said Jane Aiken, dean of Wake Forest Law. “It is a fundamental part of a solid education for future members of the Bar, and Darrien is the epitome of what it means to use that education to help others.”
Darrien has served as vice president of the Student Bar Association. While he was vice president, the Greater Community Committee was created. Each week, the committee highlights a minority-owned and small business, and Wake Forest Law students, staff and faculty are encouraged to support and visit that business. Darrien also tutored his fellow students in Torts and Constitutional Law and volunteered as a kindergarten teaching assistant while in law school.
Darrien accepted the award on April 23 at the law school’s Pro Bono Honor Society dinner.
“Pro Bono presents unique opportunities to make people’s lives better,” Darrien said. “It may allow people to obtain a job, to buy a house, to receive custody of their children, keep their business open another day, or, at the very least, make them smile – for a moment, a day, a time in their life may be better. That is always worth it.”
Eligible candidates for the Smith Anderson Pro Bono Award for Exceptional Service must:
- Be a Pro Bono Honor Society member (society members are students who complete 75 hours of pro bono service over a three-year period or 50 hours in one year);
- Have 100 or more pro bono hours within three years or 75 hours or more within one year; and
- Through a written nomination the recipient exhibits the passion, creativity, dedication and commitment to serving those in need in a way that results in demonstrated impact or increased access to legal information among an underserved population
For more information about Wake Law, visit law.wfu.edu.