Directory

Southwestern University School of Law

Southwestern University School of Law
3050 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
www.swlaw.edu

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Robert Mena, Ed.D.
Director of Student Affairs
E-mail
P: (213) 738-6716

Laura Dym Cohen, JD
Clinical Professor of Law
Director, Street Law Clinic and Community Outreach
E-mail
P: (213) 738-5737

Category Type

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

Description of Programs

Southwestern is committed to public service. Law students have many opportunities to work with nonprofit organizations that provide free or low-cost legal assistance to low-income or underserved communities.

Public Service Program - Southwestern encourages all students to perform at least 25 hours of pro bono public service each academic year. The Director of Community Outreach administers the Public Service Program and assists law students with finding volunteer opportunities in law related public service work through on-campus programs and in the community.

The Southwestern Public Interest Law Committee, comprised of students, faculty, and staff, furthers the goals of Southwestern. The Committee works to enable law students to obtain summer grants to provide legal services to the underserved members of society. The Committee also sponsors events each year to raise awareness of the importance of providing legal services to the community, including speaker's programs and various activities to raise funding for summer public interest law grants.

The Student Affairs Office, Public Service Program, Career Services Office, Legal Clinic and Externship Office are available to provide information to students interested in law-related and public service volunteer opportunities.

Location of Programs

The Student Affairs Office, Public Service Program, Career Services Office, Legal Clinic and Externship Program assist with and coordinate pro bono and public interest opportunities.

Staffing/Management/Oversight

The staff and faculty of the Student Affairs Office, Public Service Program, Career Services Office, Legal Clinic and Externship Program work in collaboration with the Public Interest Law Committee, which is comprised of students, faculty, and staff.

Funding

There is not a separate budget. Administrative support and funding is provided to support pro bono and public service programs. The same is provided for faculty pro bono projects.

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

GRAP - The General Relief Advocacy Program works with a local nonprofit law firm, Public Counsel, and its Staff attorneys to serve individuals at multiple offices of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS), where impoverished, hungry and homeless individuals are in need of advice and advocacy assistance. Each year, hundreds of volunteer law students and attorneys assist clients with obtaining shelter, food, health, transportation and social services. Without these volunteer advocates, many individuals would not receive the benefits and services to which they are legally entitled, and which play a vital role in preventing chronic homelessness by helping people stay off the streets and move towards self-sufficiency.

Tax Law Society - The Tax Law Society is comprised of students, professors, and practitioners interested in the law of taxation. It sponsors the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program that provides free income tax return preparation assistance for the elderly and low-income taxpayers of the Los Angeles area.

Teen Court Student Association - The Teen Court Student Association participates with the Los Angeles Teen Court juvenile diversion and prevention program to reduce recidivism of first time offenders. Law student members volunteer at local high school Teen Court programs to assist with jury instructions and deliberations, and to help hearing officers, probation officers and youth offenders. In addition the Teen Court Student Association hosts diversity pipeline programs on campus for inner city high schools to encourage high school students to pursue higher education and a legal career.

Public Interest Clearinghouse Justice Bus - Law students participate on a weekend service-learning trip with PIC staff to provide legal services to a rural community as part of their REAL Project, Rural Education and Access to the Law. This trip is of no cost to the law student volunteers, as it is a supported partnership between PIC and Southwestern Law School.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

The Public Service Program is administered by the Director of Community Outreach. In addition, through the Faculty Public Interest Law Committee, faculty oversee the activities of the student-run Public Interest Law Committee.

Awards/Recognition

The Southwestern Public Interest Law Service Award is given annually to a graduating student or students in recognition of demonstrated extraordinary dedication to public interest law activities while at Southwestern.

The Public Service Policy encourages all students to perform at least 25 hours of pro bono public service each academic year. Students who complete 25 hours of pro bono public service in a year receive a formal letter of recognition from the Dean. Furthermore, students who perform at least 75 hours of public service throughout their law school experience are recognized at commencement ceremonies and a notation is placed on their law school transcript.

All law students who are involved in public service are recognized at the annual Spring Public Interest Awards Luncheon.

Community Service

Public Interest Law Committee - The Public Interest Law Committee coordinates and sponsors the annual Public Interest Law Week which includes a variety of events such as: Keynote Speaker; Practitioner's Career Panel; Public Interest Employer Fair; Silent and Live Auction; Bake Sale; and Basketball Tournament to raise money for summer public interest law grants.

Student Bar Association Community Affairs- The SBA Community Affairs coordinates many community service and outreach programs. Southwestern has adopted Hoover Street Elementary School for over 20 years. Southwestern's outreach efforts at Hoover are designed to help youth develop a better understanding of the legal system, learn a sense of responsibility, and to encourage them to consider careers in the legal profession. Southwestern hosts a 'Mock Trial Program' for the fifth graders on our campus, and our students conduct an Alternative Dispute Resolution activity involving the 'Three Little Pigs' with the third graders at Hoover. The SBA along with other student groups have projects that include collecting Christmas presents, back to school items, as well as food and clothing drives to help the Hoover students and their families. The SBA is expanding their outreach to include other schools in our community.

Student Bar Association Minority Affairs - The SBA Minority Affairs organizes activities and programs that enhance the experience of a diverse student body. In the past, they have hosted conferences, cultural food fairs and diversity events.

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Robert Mena, Ed.D.
Director of Student Affairs
E-mail
P: (213) 738-6716

Laura Dym Cohen, JD
Clinical Professor of Law
Director, Street Law Clinic and Community Outreach
E-mail
P: (213) 738-5737

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

Southwestern has developed a rich variety of opportunities for students looking to emphasize public interest law within their course choices and co-curricular experiences. Mentoring and counseling regarding public interest careers and courses are offered through Faculty Table Days by area of law, the Alumni Resource Network, Public Interest Career Fair, public interest law panel presentations, and on and off campus public service volunteer work.

Public Interest Centers

The Office of Student Affairs - oversees student activities. For information, contact Robert Mena Ed.D. , Director of Student Affairs.

The Public Service Program - The Director of Community Outreach administers the Public Service Program and assists law students with finding volunteer opportunities in law related public service work through on-campus programs and in the community.

The Career Services Office - hosts various career panels, workshops and employer fairs to allow our students the opportunity to explore careers in public interest. The Career Services Office also publishes a "Guide to Public Interest Opportunities in California".

Public Interest Clinics

With a longstanding commitment to public service and excellence in skills-oriented legal education, Southwestern houses three clinics on campus. The Children's Rights Clinic, Street Law - Youth in Transition, and the Immigration Law Clinic offer valuable services to the community while giving students hands-on experience helping indigent and otherwise underrepresented individuals.

Externships/Internships

Southwestern's Externship Program offers students the opportunity to gain real-life practical experiences by externing at a select number of approved off-campus placements with government agencies, state and federal judges, the legal departments of select organizations, including the entertainment industry and in public interest agencies. The Program includes a wide variety of fieldwork opportunities for Southwestern students throughout the greater Los Angeles area including but not limited to Alliance for Children's Rights, Bet Tzedek Legal Services, Children's Law Center and Public Counsel. Externships can be done anywhere in the country and abroad. The Externship Program enhances the students' legal education through hands-on experience as well as observation of the practice of law, with structured and appropriate supervision. Externships are also a great opportunity for students to refine educational goals and test career goals.

Classes with a Public Service Component

Children & the Law - Each student assists a pro bono attorney with the adoption paperwork for children being adopted out of the foster care system. Adoptions are actual cases before the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Interviewing, Counseling & Negotiation - Students interview and counsel clients with Public Counsel, a nonprofit law firm in Los Angeles.

Clinical Program - The Children's Rights Clinic, Street Law - Youth in Transition, and the Immigration Law Clinic offer valuable services to the community while giving students hands-on experience helping indigent and otherwise underrepresented individuals.

Public Interest Journals

34 Southwestern Law Review 575

PI Career Support Center

The Career Services Office publishes and updates a "Guide to Public Interest Opportunities in California" each year. Additionally, workshops were offered on obtaining positions in the public interest. Individual counseling sessions are also available to discuss careers in public interest law. The Career Services Office Library also includes a wide variety of materials to assist students in evaluating and obtaining public interest careers.

In conjunction with other area law schools, Southwestern sponsors Public Interest Career Day and Government Career Day. Each event contains a large networking and interviewing component. Southwestern hosts its own Public Interest Employer Fair in conjunction with Southwestern's Public Interest Law Week.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

None listed

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

None listed

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

Southwestern awards several Silbert Public Interest Fellowships each year. This Fellowship Program permits students who are selected as Silbert Public Interest Fellows to receive grants that enable them to work and gain legal experience at non-profit public interest organizations. Southwestern also offers a Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Issues (GLBT) Fellowship that funds students to work in a legal setting that serves the GLBT population.

Yanase Scholarship - Memorial Scholarship for evening students interested in public interest and government work.

Irwin Bloom Scholarship- Memorial Scholarship for students interested in public interest and government work.

Douglas Salem Scholarship - Memorial Scholarship for students interested in public interest law.

Dino Hirsch Scholarship - Memorial Scholarship for students interested in public interest law.

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

None listed

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

The Student Public Interest Law Committee coordinates and sponsors the annual Public Interest Law Week that raises money to award students summer grants to work with nonprofit organizations that provide free or low-cost assistance to low income or underserved communities.

In addition, Southwestern awards several Silbert Public Interest Fellowships each year. This Fellowship Program permits students who are selected as Silbert Public Interest Fellows to receive grants that enable them to work and gain legal experience at nonprofit organizations. Southwestern also offers a Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Issues (GLBT) Fellowship that funds students to work in a legal setting that serves the GLBT population.

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Public Interest Law Week - The Public Interest Law Committee coordinates and sponsors the annual Public Interest Law Week to raise money for summer grants.

Treusch Public Service Lecture Series - The Paul E. and Phyllis Treusch Public Service Lecture Series bring national leaders in the public interest field to campus to share their unique experiences with the Southwestern community.

Student Public Interest Groups

Asian-Pacific-American Law Student Association

Black Law Students Association

General Relief Advocacy Program

Immigration Law Students Association

Latino Law Students Association

Native American Law Students Association

OUTlaw

Public Interest Law Committee

Student Bar Association

Tax Law Society

Teen Court Student Association

Women's Law Association

August 6, 2018