Vermont Bar Journal
Spring 2009 - #11.
VBA Honors Attorney Rebecca Rice with Pro Bono Service Award (or, Pro Bono Becca and the Extraordinary Bankruptcy Bar)
THE VERMONT BAR JOURNAL Volume 35, No. 1 SPRING 2009
VBA Honors Attorney Rebecca Rice with Pro Bono Service Award (or, Pro Bono Becca and the Extraordinary Bankruptcy Bar)by Mary C. Ashcroft, Esq.
Attorney Rebecca Rice's office at Cohen and Rice in Rutland is a no-nonsense, noapologies-made workplace. Client files teeter on chairs and on the table behind her desk; the desk itself is invisible under phone messages, open books, and more files. On the walls, her diplomas and awards share space with photos of the attorney clearing jumps on horseback. Becca tolerates questions about her award-winning pro bono work, but her fingers dance on her laptop during the interview. She admits later that she filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case while we were talking.
Attorney Rice's unstinting work on behalf of low income clients was recently recognized by the VBA at its Mid-Year Meeting, where she was presented with the Annual Pro Bono Service Award. She was twice-nominated: by the Vermont Volunteer Lawyers' Project and by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Vermont. "Rebecca can always be counted on to take a pro bono case," wrote VVLP Director Angele Court. "Her ongoing efforts allowed families to stabilize and improve their lives and in doing so strengthen their communities." Bankruptcy Judge Colleen Brown and Clerk Thomas Hart had similar praise in their nomination letter: "We are aware that the bankruptcy bar in general is extraordinary in its amount of pro bono service, and note that Attorney Rice is extraordinary within that group."
It is not just her direct client representation that brought her to the attention of her colleagues. Rebecca Rice also served on the VBA's ad hoc group rewriting the Vermont foreclosure laws, gives her time to train foreclosure attorneys in defense work, and is an unofficial mentor for attorneys working in the Rutland Pilot Project. Just before our interview, she had been conducting a "Bankruptcy 101" CLE training for Vermont Legal Aid attorneys. She is a regular volunteer panelist at bankruptcy trainings and Rutland County Bar continuing legal education programs.
The law was not Rebecca Rice's first career. After studying music at the New England...