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Katherine Moss ‘15L Wins Oliver White Hill Pro Bono Award

The Virginia State Bar has named Washington and Lee University law student Katherine Moss, a member of the Law Class of 2015, as the recipient of the Oliver White Hill Law Student Pro Bono Award.

The Virginia State Bar created the award in 2002 to honor extraordinary law student achievement and commitment to uncompensated or minimally compensated pro bono work and public service. Ms. Moss is the fourth W&L Law student to win the award.

W&L nominated Ms. Moss to receive the award based on her extensive pro bono work in indigent criminal defense, and specifically indigent death penalty defense. During her three years in law school, Ms. Moss devoted over 1200 hours of pro bono service beyond her academic responsibilities and extracurricular activities.

Ms. Moss, originally from Normal, Illinois, graduated from the University of Southern California in 2009 with a B.A. in Philosophy. Ms. Moss began at W&L Law in the fall of 2012, and sought out opportunities to help under served populations from the very beginning of her law school career.

As a 1L, she assisted court-appointed attorneys in their representation of an indigent client facing the death penalty. After that case ended, she continued to help the attorneys with their representation of that client. Ms. Moss spent her first summer in an unpaid internship with the Office of the Public Defender in Alexandria, Virginia. There, she helped represent indigent clients facing felony charges.

During her second year of law school, Ms. Moss worked as a law clerk for court-appointed counsel on a murder trial. She also volunteered with the Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center, an organization that represents indigent clients in their death penalty appeals.

The following summer, Ms. Moss worked for ten weeks at the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR), assisting court-appointed attorneys with post-conviction proceedings for an indigent client who has been on Alabama’s death row since 1998. In the same summer, she worked for five weeks at the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center and two weeks with Gideon’s Promise, an organization dedicated to supporting public defenders and ensuring that indigent clients receive high quality legal representation.

In order to fund her second summer, the W&L Shepherd Poverty Program chose Ms. Moss as a Shepherd Scholar and awarded her a modest stipend. After exhausting the stipend, Ms. Moss continued her summer work uncompensated. She continued to work pro bono for the SCHR in her third year of law school, dedicating hundreds of hours to the organization during the academic year.

Also during her third year, Ms. Moss enrolled in two law school clinics at W&L, the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse Clinic (VC3) and the Criminal Justice Clinic (CJC). For VC3, Ms. Moss helps represent indigent defendants facing the death penalty at the trial level for both state and federal cases. For CJC, Ms. Moss provides direct representation as a student attorney to indigent clients facing misdemeanor and felony charges in both state and federal court. In addition, she enrolled in a third-year practicum course that involves teaching “street law” to local high school students through the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Program.

Ms. Moss also serves as Lead Articles Editor for the Washington and Lee Law Review, which recently published her Note. She participated in the W&L Mock Trial Competition, and is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Group and the Women Law Students Organization.

After graduation, Ms. Moss will begin a two-year post-graduate E. Barrett Prettyman Fellowship at Georgetown University Law Center. Through that fellowship she will represent indigent clients in the local courts of the District of Columbia while pursuing an LL.M. degree in Advocacy at the Law Center’s graduate school. Georgetown awards this prestigious fellowship to only three recent law graduates each year.

The Virginia State Bar’s pro bono award is named in honor of Oliver White Hill, a life-long civil rights activist and attorney. He was one of five lawyers who argued the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional. Mr. Hill spent his childhood years in Roanoke, Virginia and started his law practice there in 1934. Among his many honors, in 2000 Mr. Hill received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Washington and Lee. He died at the age of 100 in August 2007.

In what may be a first ever school sweep of the Virginia State Bar’s Summer Access to Justice Awards, Jeremy P. White was named the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Legal Aid Award. Mr. White graduated from W&L Law in 2002 and is the managing attorney of the Lynchburg office of the Virginia Legal Aid Society.