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Recent ASU grad takes helm of law school’s pro bono office

July 10, 2008

A recent law graduate with a rich background in social work who excelled in pro bono work and in participation in law student organizations has been named head of the department that oversees both functions at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

Kristine Reich, a 2008 alumna of the College of Law, has replaced K Royal as director of pro bono and community outreach. Royal recently resigned and moved to Texas, where her husband took a new job.

Reich is well-suited for her new position, having served on the boards of four student organizations at the College of Law and volunteered for three of the college’s pro bono projects.

“Kristine’s long career in social work, combined with her exemplary record in law school and her devotion to pro bono work and the pro bono program, made her the ideal candidate,” says Patricia D. White, the college’s dean. “Her creativity and energy will take our already vibrant program to new heights.”

Reich was president of the pro bono board, and she was vice president of the Women Law Students’ Association, the Sports & Entertainment Law Students Association and the American Association for Justice Student Organization. She worked with victims of domestic violence and other crimes, as well as with families struggling with legal problems.

“This opportunity is mutually a good fit for my aspirations to make a meaningful impact on the community by providing legal resources to underserved populations, and for the College of Law in having an employee who is dedicated to the university’s goal of social embeddedness,” Reich says. “I’m looking forward to the tasks of creative and strategic planning, building relationships in the community and engaging students in calls for action. Plus, I think our college has a great group of people to work with.”

Reich, who has an undergraduate degree in business administration and psychology from Grand Canyon University, in addition to a master’s degree in social work from ASU, worked in child welfare and family services for 12 years before enrolling in law school. She has worked for Arizona Department of Economic Security, Aid to Adoption of Special Kids, the Behavioral Health Agency of Central Arizona and ASU’s School of Social Work. She also served on three advisory committees commissioned in 2003 by Gov. Janet Napolitano to make recommendations on child-welfare reform.

“You get to the point in social work where the complexities and difficulties of working with at-risk families and other social problems can be draining,” Reich says. “I began to wonder what else I could do to build more skills and have more in my toolbox for being a more effective advocate. I decided I wanted to build my competency, and that having legal skills and a law degree would give me a better opportunity for having a seat at the table of decision-makers.”

She says being a law student was one of the most challenging things she’s ever done.

“Every day was a balancing test,” says Reich, a married mother of two daughters who credits her family and friends with supporting her through law school. “I wasn’t able to attend some of the social functions, but I did participate in student organizations, pro bono and moot court. And it was important to me to continue being ‘cookie mom’ for the Girl Scout troop – and to be there to watch my children at their gymnastics and swim meets.”

“My journey at law school was pragmatic and mission-focused,” she adds. “More than for the prestige of being in the top 10 percent of the class or for possible financial opportunities, it was important to me to learn and network as much as possible, and the pro bono opportunities and student organizations were a great way to do that. I also wanted as many experiences as possible of challenging myself to be judged, and the more I participated in moot court and pro bono activities, the more invaluable feedback I received.”

Reich was outstanding in moot court competitions. She was the national winner of the American Bar Association’s 2006 Representation in Mediation Competition, when she was a first-year law student. She also was a regional winner and national semifinalist in the ABA’s 2008 contest.

Reich also placed in several other competitions, and she received the Janet M. Mueller Oral Advocacy Award – given for excellence in oral advocacy and moot court competition – at her graduation May 9.

Reich, who plans to take the Arizona bar exam this summer and to practice law eventually, says her goals are to sustain and build upon the success of the pro bono program coordinated by Royal. This year, law students contributed more than 73,000 hours of free legal and law-related services to the community, which was valued at more than $7.3 million. Reich also plans to create new opportunities for law students to build relationships with the law community.

“K put her heart and soul into this job,” Reich says of her predecessor. “I want to continue and improve upon her legacy.”

Reich lives in Phoenix with her husband, Chris, and their two young daughters: Jordyn, 10, and 8-year-old Mackenzie.