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Equal Justice Works Executive Director David Stern Receives 2022 Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award

/ Press Release

Headshot of David Stern
Photo of David Stern

Equal Justice Works is proud to announce that Equal Justice Works Executive Director David Stern is being awarded the 2022 Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award by the Pro Bono Institute (PBI).

“It’s only fitting that PBI honor David in this, his year of retirement,” said Eve Runyon, PBI President and CEO. “We are thrilled to celebrate his many contributions to public interest law and a truly illustrious career.”

Each year, PBI presents the Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award to an individual or organization for their exceptional commitment to pro bono legal services. David will be recognized this evening at the PBI Annual Conference held in Washington, D.C.

It’s only fitting that PBI honor David in this, his year of retirement. We are thrilled to celebrate his many contributions to public interest law and a truly illustrious career.

Eve Runyon /
President, CEO
Pro bono Institute

“Throughout my career, I’ve always been passionate about equal justice and creating opportunities for law students and lawyers to make an impact in our communities, and our country,” said David. “Receiving this award from the Pro Bono Institute is deeply humbling because of our shared commitment and enthusiasm for expanding access to justice for people most in need.”

In 1992, David joined Equal Justice Works, then known as the National Association for Public Interest Law (NAPIL), to launch its postgraduate fellowship program. In 1995, he was promoted to executive director.

During his time at Equal Justice Works, David has built an extraordinary community of lawyers from all corners of the profession. Under his leadership, Equal Justice Works has facilitated more than 2,300 public interest fellowships, with 85% of Fellows continuing to serve the public following their Fellowship. In addition, Equal Justice Works is a national expert on student debt relief and partners with more than 90% of ABA-accredited law schools to promote public interest law opportunities across the country.

Receiving this award from the Pro Bono Institute is deeply humbling because of our shared commitment and enthusiasm for expanding access to justice for people most in need.

David Stern /
Executive Director
Equal Justice Works

David has been recognized as a “Champion of Change” by the White House, as one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” by The National Law Journal, and as one of the “Greatest Washington Lawyers in the Past 30 Years” by The Legal Times. In 2006, he was honored by the Mississippi Center for Justice for bringing national attention to the legal needs of survivors of Hurricane Katrina and for creating Equal Justice Works’ Katrina Initiative, which deployed lawyers to the Gulf Coast region to help thousands of people left without homes, jobs, or social services.

David currently serves on the Advisory Committee for Voices for Civil Justice, a nonpartisan communications hub advancing fairness in America’s legal system. He is also a member of the Legal Services Corporation’s Leaders Council, which is dedicated to raising public awareness of the crisis in civil legal aid nationwide.

Visit here to learn more about David’s commitment to public service and here to learn more about the Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award.

Learn more about becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow