2013 – James R. Irving
James Irving’s commitment to pro bono, community service and improving the profession and the justice system is simply extraordinary. As a sixth-year associate at DLA Piper, Jim has a busy practice specializing in commercial litigation, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, yet he somehow finds the time to devote hundreds of hours each year to a variety of pro bono efforts, community service activities and other initiatives to improve access to justice.
Jim has been aptly described by some of his colleagues as a “pro bono machine.” He focuses much of his pro bono work on juvenile justice issues and is a skilled and passionate advocate for his clients. Those who have seen Jim in action in these cases have noted both the excellent quality of his work and his high level of dedication to his clients. In addition to providing them with top-notch representation, Jim pays attention to the small things that can make a big difference for his young clients. He checks to make sure they have a ride to court, files motions to allow them to attend their senior prom or basketball games, or makes special trips to detention centers on the weekends when a crisis arises.
Jim also is widely recognized as an expert on juvenile expungement issues. He has written influential articles for legal publications, testified at legislative hearings and continues to advocate for systemic reforms. He serves on boards and committees dedicated to improving access to justice and often can be found teaching and mentoring others, on one occasion going all the way to Ethiopia to do so.
Beyond the direct impact of Jim’s efforts, which is impressive enough in its own right, Jim has inspired scores of others to get involved in pro bono and public service work. Jim truly is an exceptional young lawyer who has a very bright future in front of him, and our profession and our community are fairer and better as a result.