Clark held a strong belief in right to representation
1980 graduate of Gonzaga Law, a former race car driver, and lawyer that believed that “no one is beyond redemption,” John R. Clark was one of the most respected criminal defense attorneys in Spokane. In honor of Clark, his friends and family are announcing the creation of the John R. Clark Loan Repayment Assistance Program through Gonzaga University School of Law.
The endowed fund, created in Clark’s legacy, is intended to assist those that demonstrate the same passion and commitment to the law as Clark by providing loan repayment assistance to Spokane-area public defenders.
A lifelong commitment to the law
John Clark passed away in October of 2010, following a long battle with cancer. Earlier in 2010, the Spokane Bar Association presented Clark with the Smithmoore P. Myers Professionalism Award. The annual award is intended to honor individuals that demonstrate exceptional commitment to the practice of law.
Clark’s passion for the law started when he was just 15 or 16. After being told that he could not get his driver’s license until he was 18, the Perry Mason fan decided that “someone needed to stand up for people — like him — in court” explained Superior Court Judge and Gonzaga Law grad of 1982 Ellen Clark, John’s wife.
Providing another chance
Throughout his years practicing law, John Clark was well-known for his belief that everyone deserved a second, third, or even fourth chance. Clark coordinated the pro bono representation for the “Spokane 17″, the protestors that were arrested on July 4, 2007 during a demonstration in Riverfront Park. Clark did the same for 35 youths arrested by Cheney police arrested for arriving at a party advertised on Facebook.
In January of 2009, Clark found himself held at knifepoint during a drugstore robbery. A few days later, Clark appeared at the hearing for the 25 year old suspect to ask the judge for leniency.
One of Clark’s legal partners, Robert Crary, explained to the Spokesman-Review in 2010 that he would often ask “Why are you representing this bum again? Yet all of the sudden, I could cite you numerous cases where that person would come back … who had transformed himself. I can’t help but think that John had some play in that because he didn’t give up on them”.
“It’s a love of his fellow man. It’s love for this profession because this profession gave him the ability to do what he loves to do.” Clark’s family and colleagues speak fondly of Clark’s belief in the philosophy of giving back to society, recalling that he would often do anything he could, including assisting with car repairs, for clients that simply could not pay his fee.
Creating opportunities for students
“John believed members of the bar have a responsibility to assist, teach, and mentor young attorneys. He encouraged many law students to go into criminal law, and he believed in the need for strong public defender offices,” explained Judge Ellen Clark. To honor John Clark’s memory, the John R. Clark Loan Repayment Assistance Program will be an endowed program that will provide loan repayment assistance relief to a select number of Spokane-based Gonzaga Law School graduates that are working as public defenders.
This program will allow students to follow their passion for public defense without the burden of law school debt payments. The John R. Clark Loan Repayment Assistance Program will be accepting applications for the inaugural group of recipients beginning mid-January of 2013.
Applications for the John R. Clark Endowment Program are now available. Due February 21st
If you are interested in donating or or supporting the John R. Clark Loan Repayment Assistance Endowment, contact Jeff Geldien.