Pro Bono in Shondaland
In contrast to her character, Annalise Keating on ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder, Viola Davis is known around Hollywood for her extensive advocacy efforts and philanthropy. The show’s producer, Shonda Rhimes, has taken a cue from Davis, as the current season has shifted focus from for-profit criminal defense work, with Keating introducing her promising law students to pro bono service.
In the season premiere, which aired September 22, Annalise Keating shakes up her class format at fictional Middleton University in Philadelphia by transforming her typical criminal law class lecture in to a pro bono clinic. Her students and the Keating Five (star pupils who work at Keating’s practice) represent a refugee facing deportation following a police stop. We won’t give away any spoilers and we look forward to seeing the law students assist even more clients during future episodes.
The PBEye is gratified by the extraordinary commitment of law firms and law schools to pro bono service, not only on TV, but also in real life. Like Middleton University, many law schools across the country administer a variety of pro bono programs, offering students meaningful experimental learning opportunities, structured on-ramps to providing access to justice, and an early introduction to core values of the legal profession.