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KU law students make 2017 honor roll for pro bono service

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

LAWRENCE – Ten University of Kansas School of Law students contributed nearly 600 hours of free legal services during the past year, earning a spot on KU Law’s inaugural Pro Bono Honor Roll.

Students prepared tax returns for low-income residents, interviewed and advised asylum seekers at a family detention center, and served as court advocates for victims of domestic violence seeking protection orders. 

“Participants in the Pro Bono Program had the opportunity not only to give back to individuals and communities in need of legal services, but also to gain hands-on legal experience that will help them become more effective and empathetic advocates,” said Meredith Schnug, associate director of KU’s Legal Aid Clinic.    

The following students completed 15 hours or more of pro bono service during the 2016-2017 academic year. Students are listed by name, graduation year and hometown:

  • Travis Freeman, 2017, Olathe
  • Brett Pollard, 2017, Leawood
  • Rachel Shannon, 2017, Hutchinson
  • Ramona Sole Suchomel, 2017, Asuncion, Paraguay
  • Patrick Sullivan, 2017, Wichita
  • Karly Weigel, 2017, Southlake, Texas
  • Samantha Yianitsas, 2018, Industry, Texas
  • Karlee Canaday, 2019, Manhattan
  • Davide Iacobelli, 2019, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
  • Lauren Johannes, 2019, Overland Park

In addition, six students were honored at graduation with Pro Bono Distinction for having completed 50 hours or more of pro bono service throughout their law school career:

  • Travis Freeman
  • Brett Pollard
  • Ramona Sole Suchomel
  • Patrick Sullivan
  • Karly Weigel 
  • Shelley Woodard, 2017, Garden City

Graduate Travis Freeman volunteered at the South Texas Family Detention Center, helping women who were detained at the border – many with small children – with their asylum claims.

“Many of them had harrowing journeys, subjected to robbery, fraud, kidnapping, and physical and sexual violence. But they persevered,” Freeman said. “It was a humbling experience being brought to tears on a daily basis as they told me their stories.”

Other organizations that benefited from the students’ work include the Willow Domestic Violence Center, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, KU Athletics, Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Kansas Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, KU Traffic Court and the Kansas Long-Term Care Ombudsman Office.