2023 – Susan J. Curry

Susan Curry has been staunchly committed to public service throughout her legal career, highlighted by her current role as Senior Director of Public Services and Pro Bono at the University of Chicago Law School. Susan’s influence can be seen widely through her career in public interest work, her innovation at the University of Chicago Law School, and her support and encouragement of students pursuing careers in public service.

During her tenure as Senior Director of Public Services and Pro Bono, Susan has founded new programs, helped existing initiatives flourish, connected students with public interest and legal aid organizations around the city, and so much more. Some of her many notable accomplishments include launching a formal Pro Bono Program to encourage students to get involved in pro bono work, installing a postgraduate fellowship program for students pursuing public interest careers, and developing a Public Service Interview Program which invites public service employers to interview law students for postgraduate positions. As a result of the Pro Bono Program, each graduating class now performs over 15,000 hours of pro bono work during their time in law school. Susan has also been lauded for being a trusted mentor to current and former students, with one of her peers noting that “Countless times, a current student or alum will stop by the office, letting me know that they owe their entire public service career to Susan’s guidance.”

Prior to taking on her role at the University of Chicago, Susan had an extensive career in legal aid and nonprofit law to advance justice in Chicago and Minnesota. She served as Executive Director of AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, P-Fund, the Minnesota Justice Foundation, and Chicago’s Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI).

Susan has been aptly described as singularly devoted to public interest work and imparting those values to her students. Both her guidance and the programs she has implemented at the University of Chicago have made it much more feasible for students to engage in public interest work. Susan’s continued dedication to public service in both her legal career and her work in academia makes her a most worthy recipient of the Leonard Jay Schrager Award of Excellence.