Catharine Grainge, a 3L, received the 2019 Equal Justice Works Public Interest Award for the Mid-Atlantic Region.
Grainge is one of just eight law students in the U.S. to be selected for a regional award in 2019.
The award recognizes the extraordinary commitment to community service Grainge has demonstrated throughout her law school tenure.
A native of Buffalo, New York, Grainge co-founded a center in South Philadelphia that assists refugees, completed a clinic placement with the Defender Association of Philadelphia and interned with HIAS Pennsylvania, the Juvenile Law Center and the Los Angeles County Public Defender. She served as president of the law school chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
Concerned about the school-to-prison pipeline in Philadelphia, Grainge brought the School Discipline Advocacy Service created at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law to Drexel, allowing Kline students to provide pro bono service by representing middle and high school teens at disciplinary hearings.
Grainge was a prime mover in launching an annual conference and CLE program organized by law students from Drexel, Temple, Penn, Villanova, Rutgers-Camden and Widener universities that explores inequities in the criminal justice system and policies that disadvantage minority groups and low-income people. In the two years that Grainge co-chaired and chaired “Liberty and Justice: Moving from Some to All,” the unusual conference featured presentations by community members who have been adversely affected by the courts and public policy as well as academics and high-profile figures such as Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and Bill Cobb, the former national deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union Campaign for Smart Justice and founder of Redeemed PA.
“From day one, she has gone above and beyond, engaging with the community in important ways,” said Rashida West, director for Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs. “Cassie sees the big picture outside these four walls and never succumbed to the tunnel vision that can drive law students to focus exclusively on their own careers. She’s pushed her classmates to be better and to engage.”
Toward this end, West noted, Grainge also created the Community Engagement Incentive Program, through which students can earn a certificate by participating in and sharing observations on multiple panel discussions and other events that explore legal topics in a given semester.
Grainge made arrangements to ensure that the certificate program will continue after she graduates, West said, an indication of her commitment to promoting community engagement for future classes at the school.
In December 2018, she received the Outstanding Service Award from the Public Interest Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association.
She has accepted a job with the Defender Association of Philadelphia after graduation.