The State Bar of Georgia will honor Leslie Salley (J.D. ’14) with its Individual Law School Access to Justice Award for her pro bono work in law and health equity at the State Bar of Georgia’s annual Pro Bono Awards Reception on Thursday, Oct. 23.
“I’m humbled and honored to be recognized with the award,” Salley says. “I plan to continue working in public interest. The work was about reaching a population that lacks access to much needed services.”
Salley, the first recipient of the new award, was selected from a field of four entries.
Among Salley’s projects, she worked with Atlanta Neighborhood Planning Unit V (NPU-V) for some of the poorest metro Atlanta neighborhoods flanking Turner Field. With Amber Bennett (J.D. ’14), she held educational forums for NPU-V in the Capital Gateway, Summerhill, Pittsburgh, Mechanicsville and Adair Park neighborhoods in an effort to help them gain access to public transportation, living wages, green space and other crucial quality of life benefits that build communities.
Bennett and Salley worked closely with the neighborhoods to create community benefits agreements and conducted environmental impact assessments as the City of Atlanta seeks redevelopment opportunities for Turner Field and the surrounding area. Georgia State University has expressed interest in the stadium for dormitories and intends to include green space and other uses.
“Leslie really involves herself in the community,” Bennett says. “She is incredibly knowledgeable about health inequities. She is a hard worker and she definitely deserves this award.”
“It’s a great honor for Leslie and visibility for her work,” says Courtney Anderson, assistant professor of law, who nominated the student for the award. Anderson says Salley applied what she learned in her Law and Social Welfare and Law and Health Equity classes and took it to work in the community.
“Leslie’s got genuine interest and passion for community service work and now she has the support and recognition of the legal profession in Georgia as she sets out as a junior lawyer,” Anderson says.
Among the criteria, the State Bar of Georgia Access to Justice Committee and the Young Lawyers Division created the award to recognize a law student who has excelled in participation in support of a civil pro bono or legal aid program or who has developed or has been instrumental in the development of a civil pro bono program satisfying previously unmet civil legal needs or extended services to underserved segments of the population.
“We are pleased to recognize the important access to justice efforts of law students here in Georgia,” says Michael Monahan, pro bono director with the State Bar of Georgia. “So much good work is being done. On the national level, the role of law schools and law students in addressing the justice gap is increasing and is receiving intense scrutiny. We are thankful for Ms. Salley’s contributions and hope this Law School Excellence in Access to Justice Award will stimulate further conversation and action.”