Dean receives Pat Sappern Award
June 7, 2013 - Brad Saxton, dean of the School of Law, was recognized recently for supporting an initiative that provides legal support for victims of domestic violence.
The Yale Sappern Memorial Fund, which supports internships for law students who help domestic violence victims navigate through the complexities of the Family Court System, awarded Saxton its Pat Sappern Award for his continued support of the program.
"The award meant a great deal to me," Saxton said. "I think the Sappern Fellows program is wonderful, and I have an enormous amount of respect and affection for Pat Sappern, in whose honor this award is named and given."
The program was originally launched in 1993 by Pat Sappern's husband Yale Sappern, a widely respected former first assistant clerk and supervisor of the Family Division in New Haven Superior Court. Following Yale's death in 1997, Pat and some of Yale's close friends created the Yale Sappern Memorial Fund to continue the internship program that Yale founded. Over the past 13 years, the fund has contributed nearly $250,000 to the School of Law to fund the Sappern Fellows Program.
"Under the Yale Sappern Fellows program, the Yale Sappern Memorial Fund provides funding that allows us to pay a number of our students to work as Yale Sappern Fellows in the family courts of Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven," Saxton said. "Under the supervision of the court clerks there, they assist self-represented parties in family law matters - temporary restraining orders and dissolution of marriages."
While the students do not give legal advice, they do help the parties understand the paperwork and procure the forms that must be completed.
"Our students in the program are doing terrific work helping individuals, usually indigent ones, who are trying to handle these difficult court proceedings without the assistance of counsel," Saxton said. "Their efforts are also very helpful to the courts and clerks, as self-represented litigants cause real challenges for the court system - because they are usually unfamiliar with the courts' procedures - and the Sappern Fellows do a terrific job of helping these litigants understand what they need to do for the system to work."
"Brad has supported this program since he became dean," said Doretta Sweeney, associate director of career services for the School of Law. "The program has grown significantly under his leadership."
Nathan Silverstein, treasurer of the Yale Sappern Memorial Fund, said Saxton has embraced the program and encouraged and supported its expansion.
"With his support and encouragement, it became an important learning experience for the students, and was of enormous help to the courts and to the many individuals who benefited from the program," Silverstein said.
Between April 2012 and May 2013 alone, approximately 35 students assisted more than 2,300 self-represented litigants with temporary restraining orders and dissolutions of marriages. Each year, approximately 30 Quinnipiac law students participate.
"The program allows our students to gain invaluable experience and insight from working in the real world, assisting real people with real problems," Saxton said. "I was very honored to receive the award, because I think the program is so terrific and because I have so much respect and affection for Pat Sappern, for Nate Silverstein, for Ed Dolan and for the other leaders of the Sappern Foundation board."