Sisters with a Passion for Public Service
Barbara E. Futter, Esq., WCL ‘89 and her sister Catherine L. Futter committed $60,000 to American University Washington College of Law’s Equal Justice Foundation because of a mutual commitment to public service. The first year, $20,000 of their gift will directly support 2021 summer stipends for law students seeking out externships with public interest organizations through the Equal Justice Foundation. This contribution will therefore help our students deliver critical services to underrepresented members of our community, while gaining valuable experiences in the public interest sector.
Barbara’s passion and commitment to public service began as a student at AUWCL, and she soon embarked on a lifelong career dedicated to helping those in need. Below, Barbara shares more about herself, words of wisdom for our students, and more about her motivation to give back.
- Since graduating from WCL, what do you feel has been a career highlight you would like to share with a current student? I went to law school to do criminal defense work for low income people. I got a summer job working in Nashville. Back then it seemed like such an unusual place to go but I didn't think I had a lot to lose since it was for the summer. I was lonely and out of my own world but people offered me chances to do strange things and of course I accepted these opportunities. Some of these people are still my friends 30 years later. I love the challenge of being out of place. Now I'm out of place in my home world in New York!
- What advice would you give to a new law student? To a student about to graduate? Be open to anything. Go with your passion but don’t play it safe unless you need to.
- What experience at WCL do you look back on as having an impact on your career? Criminal clinic and evidence with Professor Rice. Both were stressful experiences but gave me chances to work with strong professors and learn to be humble.
- What was your motivation and hope for impact in making your gift to support the Equal Justice Foundation? I got a paid summer stipend and it changed my career path and my life. My sister and I want other people to have this same opportunities to try something different and serve others where there's a need.
- Tell us about your approach to philanthropy and why it was meaningful to have your sister join you in this gift to EJF at AUWCL? We think it is important to use our abilities and talent to help make things better for the world and the planet. But we don't want to tell people what we think should be done. It is important to help people work towards their hopes and dreams. We may not be able to help much, but we are doing what we can.
- Any closing words of wisdom? Do what you can to find issues you care about and don't lose your idealism.