Georgetown University Law Center professor Frances DeLaurentis was selected as a recipient of the Archdiocese of Washington John Carroll Society’s Pro Bono Legal Service Award for her work with the Catholic Charities Legal Network.
DeLaurentis will be recognized for her work in supervising the production of nine handbooks over the past year to be used by the Legal Network’s volunteer lawyers.
The award recognizes individuals and organizations that have done exemplary pro bono legal work for the Catholic organization. received, along with law firms Keller & Heckman LLP and Steptoe & Johnson LLP,, Oct. 4
The John Carroll Society serves the Archbishop of Washington through its Catholic Charities Legal Network, in which Professor DeLaurentis is heavily involved in. The network is a pro bono legal service that serves clients with a variety of issues, including debt, child custody and domestic violence.
DeLaurentis’ law students, with the help of law librarian Carla Wale, spent more than 500 hours creating the handbooks, which were used for reference by attorneys. Logistical information such as county-specific court names and fees were also included.
Caitlin Callahan (LAW ’17) was one of these students and spoke highly of her experience working on the project.
“It was not only rewarding to contribute to the meaningful work of Catholic Charities, but it was exciting to apply our newfound legal research skills to real, practical lawyering and to learn about new structures of local law,” Callahan said.
DeLaurentis spoke of her desire to become more involved, highlighting her goal of completing a project that would not only benefit the network but also involve her students and help them learn.
“I am actually having an impact on students, and it’s having an impact on me,” DeLaurentis said. “They did the real work. … I was just the vehicle.”
She said the most fulfilling aspect of the project was the relationship she developed with each of her students through the cause of serving others.
“Seeing the light bulb go off, I learned so much,” DeLaurentis said. “The service aspect and the teaching aspect of it … [was] a live education.”
DeLaurentis was a civil litigator and partner at a law firm before teaching at the Catholic University of America and coming to Georgetown in 1999. She served as chair of GULC’s legal writing and research program until 2013. DeLaurentis currently teaches legal practice, applied legal composition and advanced legal writing in practice, as well as upper-level writing seminars. DeLaurentis is also director of GULC’s writing center.
Associate Dean of the J.D. Program Naomi Mezey said DeLaurentis is a committed GULC professor, supported by both her colleagues and her students.
“I’m looking at her teaching evaluation, and it just gives you an idea of how much her students love her and care about her,” Mezey said. “For example, one person commented that ‘I loved Professor DeLaurentis and her class. I feel like I’ve really improved a lot from her teaching.’ Her values are internal and they’re part of her identity as a teacher.”
Julie Ross, current chair of the legal research and writing program, succeeded DeLaurentis two years ago and has worked with her at GULC for 16 years. Ross highlighted DeLaurentis’ relationships with her students and expressed excitement at the recognition of her work.
“I was thrilled to hear that she was being recognized for the work that she did with her students last spring,” Ross wrote in an email to The Hoya. “It recognizes both Prof. DeLaurentis and the work of her students; it underscores the obligations of members of the legal profession to engage in pro bono work; and it acknowledges that engaging students in work that serves others is consistent with the Jesuit tradition underlying a Georgetown education.”