Champions for Justice

A special evening that celebrates and supports the students, alumni, partners and friends whose exceptional devotion to social justice increases access to justice for all.

This Year's Event

Date: January 25, 2019
Time: 5 p.m.
Location: Omni Hotel, One West Exchange Street, Providence, RI

Champions for Justice Reception 
5:00 p.m.

Dinner, Awards, Auction & Dessert Reception
6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Registration is Now Open

Register Today

The Impact

Champions for Justice is quickly becoming a hallmark of the Rhode Island legal landscape, and we are proud to count so many as friends and supporters of the Law School. Proceeds from the evening benefit the many social justice programs within RWU Law:

Alternative Spring Break
Pro Bono Collaborative
Public Interest Clinical Externships
Public Interest Summer Stipends
RWU Law Clinics

Social Justice Program Highlights

Event Sponsors

This event would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors.

Presenting SponsorDinner SponsorCocktail Reception SponsorDessert Reception Sponsor
Motley Rice Mandell Schwartz & Boisclair, Ltd. jones kelleherRobinson and Cole

Honoring the 2019 Champions

Robert J. McConnell, Esq.

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Robert McConnellRobert J. McConnell (Bob) has practiced law in Rhode Island at the law firm of Motley Rice LLC for over 25 years. A graduate of Suffolk University School of Law and Brown University, Bob has devoted his legal career to protecting the lives and rights of those harmed by asbestos, lead paint and tobacco. He presently is involved in litigation throughout the country against the opioid industry. He has represented hundreds of asbestos victims who have been injured and died from asbestos exposure. He has represented numerous children injured by lead poisoning and secured the largest lead paint poisoning settlement in Rhode Island on behalf of a child.

In 2014 he was a member of his firm’s trial team that received Public Justice’s Trial Lawyers of the Year Award for obtaining a judgment against former manufacturers of lead pigment ordering the abatement of lead paint from homes in California. In addition, Bob serves on the boards of several organizations devoted to improving the lives of the disenfranchised. For the past seven years he has been board chair of the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence that seeks to promote nonviolence among young people in Rhode Island’s inner cities, based on Dr. Martin Luther King’s principles and practices of nonviolence. He also has been a long time board member of the George Wiley Center that fights to reduce utility costs and the harmful effects of utility shutoffs by organizing and empowering those individuals most affected.

In 2015, Bob was appointed as Housing Court judge in Central Falls, overseeing the rehabilitation of a number of abandoned properties throughout the city. Bob has actively supported the Pro Bono Collaborative since its inception, taking on fraudulent foreclosure practices and assisting immigrant families, among other projects, and serving on the PBC’s Advisory Board.

Diana deGroof, Esq. L '03

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Diana DeGroofDiana deGroof has devoted her career to serving low-income clients at Rhode Island Legal Services (RILS). She came to law school determined to serve marginalized communities and has never wavered from that path. Throughout her fifteen years at RILS, Diana has worked in a wide range of practice areas including child welfare and family law, housing, disability, and public benefits. She has mentored dozens of RWU law students. Diana is active in the community and currently serves on the Board of Project Weber-Renew, an organization that provides peer-based harm reduction and recovery services including HIV prevention and testing, needle exchange, support groups, basic needs and case management for at-risk populations including sex workers, transgender sex-workers and high risk women and men.

She has previously served on the Child Custody and Visitation Solutions (CCVS) Project of the RI Coalition against Domestic Violence, the RI Works Community Advisory Committee, and the Advisory Board of the Feinstein Institute for Legal Service - now the Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education. Diana is a recipient of the RI Coalition for the Homeless Legal Clinic Award., and she is a long-time member of RWU Law’s Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program Selection Committee.

While at RWU Law School, Diana was a leader in the public interest community. She worked at several public interest organizations including the RI Office of the Mental Health Advocate, the Immigration Law Education and Advocacy Project of Catholic Social Services in Fall River, and participated in the RWU Disability Law Clinic. She was also awarded a Massachusetts Bar Foundation Fellowship for her summer work at Legal Services for the Cape and Islands. She served as the co-chair of the Association for Public Interest Law and was a leader in the pro bono Women in Transition Project providing educational workshops for women at the ACI.  

Rhode Island Public Defender - Community Partner Champion

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Rhode Island Public DefenderThe Rhode Island Public Defender was created in 1941 and is believed to be the first statewide full service public defender office established in the United States. The dedicated and committed lawyers in the office defend adults and juveniles accused of committing crimes and represent parents who are threatened with loss of custody of their children because of neglect or abuse allegations. Supported by professional social workers, investigators and interpreters, the office represents clients in state court proceedings from the first appearance before a judge through trial or hearing, as well as through appeal if necessary. The office mission statement sets out the goal of providing “client-centered advice, holistic representation and zealous advocacy with support from our team of advocates, social workers, investigators, interpreters and other staff,” with a commitment to treating its clients “with dignity, compassion and fairness.” The office lives up to that goal and commitment on a daily basis.  Attorneys in the office have been mentoring RWU Law students – and hiring RWU Law graduates – since the law school opened its doors.

2019 Champions for Justice Host Committee

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  • Kimberly R. Ahern, Esq. L'09
  • Jamie J. Bachant, Esq. L'12
  • Alyssa V. Boss, Esq. L'97
  • Natalya A. Buckler, Esq. L'10
  • Ms. Lauren E. Campbell L'15
  • Robert J. Cavanagh Jr., Esq. L'11
  • Judge Edward C. Clifton
  • Angelyne Cooper-Bailey, Esq. L'08
  • Michael J. Daly, Esq. L'02
  • John A. Dorsey, Esq. L'10
  • Danielle Dufault, Esq. L'15
  • Joseph A. Farside, Esq. L'06
  • Christopher J. Fragomeni, Esq. L'15
  • The Honorable Robert G. Flanders
  • Linn Foster Freedman, Esq.
  • Ms. Jamie M. Gau L'16
  • Deborah S. Gonzalez, Esq. '04 L'07
  • Nicholas J. Hemond, Esq. L'12
  • Gregory N. Hoffman, Esq. L'13
  • Meghan L. Kruger Hopkins, Esq. L'15
  • Kara A. Humm, Esq. L'08
  • Jillian Jagling, Esq. L'09
  • Patrick T. Jones
  • Dadriana A. Lepore, Esq. L'10
  • David H. Leveillee, Esq. L'11
  • Luis Mancheno '13
  • Zachary M. Mandell, Esq. L'11
  • Mr. Matthew G. Martinez L'17
  • Kelly Rafferty Meara, Esq. L'11
  • Leah L. Miraldi, Esq. L'13
  • Michael J. Moloney, Esq. L'09
  • Ms. Valerie Morozov L'14
  • Olayiwola O. Oduyingbo, Esq. L'14
  • Emma L. Peterson, Esq. L'11
  • Stephen M. Prignano, Esq.
  • Matthew R. Plain, Esq. L'05
  • Adam Ramos, Esq. L'06
  • Andrew C. Rodgers, Esq. L'14
  • The Honorable Judith Savage
  • Arlene Violet, Esq.
  • Michael A Voccola, Esq. L'97
  • Kristen M. Whittle, Esq.
  • Joshua Xavier, Esq. L'14
Close Course Type Descriptions

Course Types

We have classified RWU Law classes under the following headers. One of the following course types will be attached to each course which will allow students to narrow down their search while looking for classes.

Core Course

Students in the first and second year are required to take classes covering the following aspects of the law—contracts, torts, property, criminal law, civil procedure, and constitutional law, evidence, and professional responsibility.  Along with these aspects, the core curriculum will develop legal reasoning skills.


After finishing the core curriculum the remaining coursework toward the degree is completed through upper level elective courses.  Students can choose courses that peak their interests or courses that go along with the track they are following.


Seminars are classes where teachers and small groups of students focus on a specific topic and the students complete a substantial research paper.


Inhouse Clinics and Clinical Externships legal education is law school training in which students participate in client representation under the supervision of a practicing attorney or law professor.  RWU Law's Clinical Programs offer unique and effective learning opportunities and the opportunity for practical experience while still in law school.