16 Apr 2019
Dylan Bakken, ’19, and Shannon Seim, ’19, are the 2019 co-recipients of the Student Award for Outstanding Impact through Pro Bono Service.
Each year, as part of the Pro Bono Initiative, a student is recognized for their commitment to pro bono service while at the College of Law. The impact may be measured by reviewing a single act or project, or multiple acts or projects performed by the student during his or her enrollment at the College of Law. The selection committee takes into consideration not only the total number of pro bono hours performed, but also the overall impact the pro bono work has had on the community and underserved populations.
Dylan Bakken’s outstanding efforts in pro bono include significant work on two important projects, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the South Dakota Teen Court (SDTC). Dylan devoted his weekends, free time during the week, and most of his spring break to help the underprivileged and students prepare their tax returns through the VITA program. After realizing a large portion of the students were non-resident immigrants, he took the initiative to become certified in preparing international tax forms to ensure this population was equally served. The South Dakota Teen Court is a criminal deferral program that involves a mock court proceeding and community service. If the teen completes the program, their charges are dismissed and they are given an opportunity for a fresh start. Dylan’s work with the SDTC involved serving as a judge to administer the proceedings and as a consultant to help the teen prosecutor or defense counsel prepare for the proceeding. Through his work in these two programs, Dylan reported a combined 200+ pro bono hours during his time at the College of Law.
During her time at the College of Law, Shannon Seim served as a volunteer and Chair of the CLEP program—organizing events, covering multiple shifts, and always being willing to fill in when gaps arose. Shannon also designed and initiated the THRIVE Project and recruited twenty-eight other student volunteers and four faculty to facilitate presentations on landlord-tenant law for refugee and immigrant students in Omaha high schools. Shannon also served as a member and later co-chair of the Equal Justice Society and organized numerous events to raise money for non-profit organizations and the Nebraska Public Interest Law Fund (NPILF). In addition, Shannon spent her summers working for Legal Aid of Nebraska, serving Nebraska’s poor. As one of her nominators shared, “Shannon’s passion for pro bono work is contagious and the pro bono work she has done in her 3 years at the College of Law has impacted many individuals.”