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South Texas College of Law Houston

South Texas College of Law Houston
1303 San Jacinto Street
Houston, TX 77002

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Catherine Greene Burnett
Associate Dean of Clinical Studies Director, Pro Bono Honors Program
Chair, Access to Justice and Public Service Committee
[email protected]
(713) 646-1831

Gladys Radetti [email protected]
(713) 646-1843

Category Type

Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program Characterized by a Referral System with a Coordinator

Description of Programs

The South Texas College of Law Pro Bono Honors Program is open to all students who have completed the first year of law school study. The Program has two components. First, it "matches" interested students with community public interest projects. Second, it monitors student participation and recognizes those students who contribute 50 or more hours of pro bono service. Although it is a "stand-alone" program, it operates closely with the Public Interest Process Clinic in keeping abreast of current service needs in the community.

Students can either select from a list of "pre-approved" placements, or students can propose their own placement with a lawyer or agency engaged in pro bono service. Each student and supervisor signs an agreement, and the law school tracks the hours worked and the final evaluation of the service by both the student and supervisor. Many of the pre-approved placements involve agencies with which the law school has had a multi-year relationship through the academic internships. The extensive list allows the law school to help the student in selecting a service opportunity that is commensurate with the student's lawyering skills level or addresses the student's subject matter interest.

The program is available to all interested second and third year students, whether or not the student intends to donate 50 hours of service in order to qualify for special recognition.

Location of Programs

The Pro Bono Honors Program is a freestanding department within the law school. It is housed with the Clinical Programs and the Director currently serves as Associate Dean of Clinical Studies.


The Program is directed by a member of the faculty. Administrative support is provided by the Clinical Studies Department. Faculty, staff and student oversight comes through the Access to Justice and Public Service Committee, a standing committee comprised of clinical and doctrinal faculty, senior administrators and student representatives.


The Pro Bono Honors Program is funded by general law school revenue.

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

As a condition of school support, each student organization is expected to perform at least one major pro bono or public interest project a year. Alternatively, student organizations may engage in a number of smaller projects spread throughout the year. Examples of larger projects include community justice education events such as the Hate Crimes Symposium or the Death Penalty Symposium both hosted by the Black Law Students Association and open to the public. This service requirement is overseen by Assistant Dean Wanda Morrow. The campus tradition of volunteerism is long standing.

Additionally, all students are members of the Student Bar Association, which has a designated officer serving as liaison to the Pro Bono Honors Program. This student helps coordinate campus awareness of special pro bono projects and direct individual student organizations to pro bono activities which may of particular interest or significance to members of that group.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

Each year faculty members prepare a self assessment that specifically asks, among other categories, for a review of pro bono and public interest service. That assessment forms the basis for annual individual conferences with the Dean and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.


Students donating 50 or more hours of service in the Pro Bono Honors Program qualify for special recognition. The special recognition takes two forms: a notation on the student's transcript, and a certificate presented during the awards ceremony at the May and December graduation luncheons.

Community Service

Assistant Dean Gena Lewis Singleton has as a significant portion of her responsibilities, the development of community service activities and special events. In that capacity she cooperates with business, civic, and other organizations to develop curricula to meet the needs and interests of South Texas College of Law Students and the community. Currently enrolled law students work in these projects, many of which involve outreach to historically under represented segments of the legal profession. A sample of recent community service activities include:

Annual Community Outreach Program - In a collaborative effort with area universities, the Law School hosts two hundred students in a program designed to increase the skills, knowledge and motivation of first and second year college students. The program began in the Spring 1995 and recently has expanded to include High School students as well.

Annual Communities In Schools Houston - Sponsoring a summer Legal Internship Law School Education Day.

Sponsorship of High School Pre-Law Club

Seventh Annual Upward Bound Program - Established in 1965, this program is aimed at ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders who are tutored, counseled, and exposed to different cultural events in preparation for entering college. While at the Law School, these high school students learned test taking strategies for the SAT-ACT, talked with college advisors, learned to apply for financial aid, and worked to hone their writing and oral communication skills. The goal of the program is to assist High School students who are working to become the first in their families to graduate from a four-year college.

In addition to these activities, other collaborative school-sponsored volunteer activities have included:

Partners in Youth Responsibility Volunteer Mediation-Mentor Project - A collaborative project of the Harris County Department of Education and the Law School, together with several non-profit organizations; the purpose of the volunteer mediator-mentor project was to demonstrate how specially trained volunteers from corporate and professional fields can help courts, schools, and youth facilities reduce the incidents of youth violence and other unproductive behavior. In a one-year pilot project, volunteers were taught how to use responsible dispute resolution protocols; they then worked with at-risk youth and their families to communicate more effectively and to resolve their disputes in a peaceful manner. Law school faculty and students served together in teams with members of the community.

"Adopt a Beach" weekend cleaning project or the Habitat for Humanity building weekend illustrates two smaller projects undertaken during the year by various student organizations. Similarly, the South Texas College of Law Student Bar Association hosts the Annual Food Drive, which has consistently placed the Law School the largest single provider to the Houston Food Bank.

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Catherine Greene Burnett
Associate Dean of Clinical Studies
[email protected]
(713) 646-1831

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

Public Interest Centers

Public Interest Clinics

General Civil Clinic - Represents low-income clients in social security disability, family law, and probate and guardianships. Students interview clients, perform needed fact investigation and legal research, draft and file any necessary documents, perform pre-hearing preparation of cases, develop case and hearing strategies, conduct actual client representation at administrative hearings, and attend state district court hearings with staff attorneys. Students enroll for three or four semester hours credit and perform a minimum of 150 to 200 hours of service.

Mediation Clinic - Students serve as third party neutrals in a variety of settings, primarily where one or more of the parties are indigent and have a pending civil dispute. Currently the clinic's focus is on child support litigation and on-line parenting.


Public Interest Clinic - Students serve with local non-profit agencies or charitable organizations. Placements include the Legal Aid Society, the Texas Defender Project, Catholic Charities, Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program, and many others. Students enroll for three or four semester credit hours, and perform a minimum of 180 to 240 hours of service.

Classes with a Public Service Component

Public Interest Journals

PI Career Support Center

All Public Interest Career support is coordinated through the Career Resources Center, under the direction of Assistant Dean Reginald Green. Typical programs include public interest job fairs as well as individual student counseling.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

As the result of a gift to the law school, South Texas College of Law has approved the Fred Parks loan repayment assistance project, which operates on a model similar to the Texas Access to Justice Commission's Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program. The program targets students pursuing a career in public interest law, particularly those recent graduates who help low-income Texans.

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

Graduate Student Funded:

Other Funding Sources:

Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

Graduate Student Funded

Other Funding Sources:

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

Graduate Student Funded:

Other Funding Sources:

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Death Penalty Symposium

Hate Crimes Symposium


Student Public Interest Groups