News and Information
April 28, 2015

Washington and Lee Student Named Pro Bono Award Winner

Katherine Moss, a third-year student at Washington and Lee University School of Law, is the winner of the Virginia State Bar’s 2015 Oliver White Hill Law Student Pro Bono Award.

Beth Belmont, Clinical Professor of Law at Washington and Lee, nominated Moss noting that “[n]ot only has Katie thrown herself into voluntary pro bono work during each academic year of her law school career, she has also dedicated her summers and her future to undercompensated public interest legal work and volunteer work supporting that cause. Her dedication to the powerless in society is unparalleled.”

During her first year in law school, Moss worked as a law clerk for court-appointed attorneys representing an indigent client charged with capital murder. After the case ended, she continued to provide pro bono assistance on behalf of that client. In her second year, Moss logged more than 300 hours helping represent an indigent client in a murder trial. She drafted pre-trial motions, conducted legal research, and was an active participant in the five-day trial. Moss also volunteered with the Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center, an organization that represents indigent clients on death penalty appeals. She also interned for ten weeks at the Southern Center for Human Rights where she helped prepare and conduct an Alabama capital state habeas evidentiary hearing on behalf of an indigent client who has been on death row since 1998. As a third-year student, Moss continued to provide hundreds of hours of pro bono assistance to the Southern Center of Human Rights, drafting a portion of the post-hearing brief to the trial court, and then an appellate brief to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. In the fall, she taught a “street law” class to high school seniors in Roanoke through the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Law Literacy Program.

Moss is in the top of her class academically. She is a Lead Articles Editor on the Washington and Lee Law Review, and recently published her Note in that journal. She was a semi-finalist in W&L Law’s Mock Trial Competition. She also serves as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Group and the Women’s Law Student organization.

In supporting Moss’s nomination, William Montross, senior attorney in the Capital Litigation Unit at the Southern Center for Human Rights, wrote: “Her devotion to clients who are grossly underserved is no passing phase. She will continue to serve as a public defender after law school, and I hope and pray, eventually become part of the death penalty community. There is no questioning her commitment to this calling. Everything she has done and continues to do is directed to representing poor people accused of crimes.”

The award, named for a late Virginia civil rights litigator, recognizes a law student’s commitment to uncompensated or minimally compensated pro bono work and other public service. It will be presented by the Virginia State Bar Special Committee on Access to Legal Services during the Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach on June 19.

Updated: Apr 30, 2015