Congratulations to Jason Scott Cohen '15 who recently received the Texas Access to Justice Commission's Law Student Pro Bono Award
Jason has the unique distinction of having earned the most law-related public service hours in his class and is amongst the top 5 on record by any SMU law student. Jason participated in the SMU Criminal Justice Clinic during his third year of law school and found the experience so rewarding that he continued to assist the program long after his clinical requirements were complete. In fact, he completed over 552 hours of pro bono assistance for the clinic!
Not only did he volunteer a record amount of his time to the criminal clinic at SMU, but the assistance he provided was rigorous and his work product was exemplary. While volunteering, Jason handled over 80 individual cases, including 5 jury trials and 9 dispositive motions. He personally arranged for a client that had been incarcerated for over 90 days to be released from jail, the dismissal of charges for a client with developmental disabilities, and arranged for reduced sentencing for a terminally ill client. He secured, arguably, the first medical Marijuana dismissal in Dallas County for a client that was found to have no other medical remedy for a lifelong and debilitating illness.
His commitment to his clients was significant and he commonly continued to assist clients even after their criminal case was resolved. For example, for an HIV client, after securing a dismissal of all criminal charges, he then represented the client in a hearing in front of the Dallas Health and Human Services, regarding issues with the local HOPWA program (Housing for People with AIDS). He asserted the client's constitutional due process rights to a full adversarial hearing - the first ever asserted in Dallas. Ultimately, the client was able to keep his housing and benefits for several additional months and was given the opportunity to continue to receive support benefits from the organization even after termination, all because Jason was committed to help.
Jason's dedication to serving the community began in high school when he would assist his father, a dentist, to help provide care for indigent patients. During that time, he also participated in Project Help, a service organization working with disabled children. Jason's first career was in advertising, and even there, he demonstrated his genuine commitment to serve the community. To that end, he directed multiple pro bono television public service announcements for Covenant House Texas, Cerebral Palsy of Colorado, and the American Cancer Society.
In law school at SMU, Jason was first distinguished by his academic excellence and was asked to participate in the Academic Skills Assistance Program, providing academic tutoring for first-year students. Jason tutored throughout his second year of law school and was a favorite among the students he helped. We are very proud of Jason and his accomplishments!