News and Information
April 30, 2019

Zachary McDonnell Receives Oliver White Hill Award for Pro Bono Service

Zachary McDonnell of the William & Mary Law School class of 2019 has been awarded the Oliver White Hill Law Student Pro Bono Award which honors “extraordinary law student achievement in the areas of pro bono publico and under-compensated public service work in Virginia.”

McDonnell performed 1,195 hours of pro bono service during his law school years after graduating summa cum laude from the College of William & Mary in 2015. In her nomination letter, Rebecca Green, Professor of Practice at William & Mary Law School, said “In my thirteen years of teaching at William & Mary Law School, I have never encountered a student more committed to public service than Mr. McDonnell.”

McDonnell spread his charitable legal hours among a variety of initiatives and organizations, including the restoration of voting rights, legal aid offices, student legal services, family and elder law clinics, and a domestic violence clinic. 

Rachel G. Widenhouse of the Avalon Center, which assists victims of domestic and sexual violence said, “Mr. McDonnell has comprehensive insight into what domestic and sexual assault survivors face in the court room.” Widenhouse went on to note that additionally, “Mr. McDonnell dedicated entire days to mulching the children’s playground and transitional housing unit flower beds.”

It was this kind of effort that led Ann H. Kloeckner, Executive Director of Legal Aid Works, to write, “His dedication to the mission of civil legal aid is rare and exemplary.”

Added Green, “In his typical humility, Mr. McDonnell told me that his greatest honor is knowing that I have enough faith in him to nominate him for this award.”

After graduation, McDonnell plans a career as a public interest lawyer. He has received the William & Mary law School post-graduate fellowship, and will begin his career at Legal Services of Northern Virginia in the Prince William office.

The Oliver White Hill Award will be presented at the Legal Aid Luncheon as part of the Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach on Friday, June 14. For more information about the luncheon and to register for the event, please email Cris Gantz at

Updated: Apr 30, 2019