Directory

University of Texas at Austin School of Law

University of Texas at Austin School of Law
727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
www.utexas.edu/law

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Tina Fernandez
Director, Pro Bono Programs
E-mail
P: (512) 232-6170

Elena Yujuico
Pro Bono Administrator
E-mail
P: (512) 232-1989

Category Type

Formal Voluntary Program Characterized by a Referral System with Coordinator

Description of Programs

The vision for The University of Texas School of Law's Pro Bono Program is that students at The University of Texas School of Law will engage in pro bono work to increase access to justice and develop a lifetime commitment to providing legal services to those in need.

The Pro Bono Program supports this vision by working with bar groups, legal service providers, pro bono attorneys, and the law school community to:

  • Develop a wide range of opportunities for students to engage in pro bono work;
  • Increase the delivery of much-needed legal services to low-income individuals and communities;
  • Create pro bono projects that allow students to build lawyering skills and career networks through hands-on experience;
  • Cultivate a commitment to pro bono within the law school community; and
  • Increase the number of our graduates who engage in pro bono work throughout their careers.

Location of Programs

The Pro Bono Program which was formerly launched during Fall 2009 is a division of the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law, which was created in April 2004.

Staffing/Management/Oversight

The Pro Bono Program is staffed by a Director and an Administrator. The Pro Bono Director manages the day-to-day operations of the program, sets policy for developing pro bono projects and engaging student volunteers, and interfaces with the law school community, legal services providers, bar groups and members of the private bar.

The Pro Bono Administrator maintains the Pro Bono Program's data, contacts, and communications and handles all administrative functions of the program.

In addition to the Pro Bono Program, the Office of Student Life at UT Law works closely with the Justice Center to encourage student groups to engage in community service.

Funding

The Pro Bono Program is a part of the William Wayne Justice Center, an endowed center. In addition, the William Wayne Justice Center actively seeks financial support earmarked for the Pro Bono Program.

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

There are many student run pro bono opportunities at UT Law. Below is just a sampling of some of these:

Street Law Street Law sends law students into local schools to teach practical, participatory lessons about law, democracy, and human rights.

Pro Bono in January (PB in J)-Winter Break Service Trips PB in J works in concert with the Pro Bono program to organize and facilitate a service trip during the winter break to provide legal assistance to underserved communities. PB in J's vision is that through these trips, UT Law students will have the opportunity to engage in meaningful pro bono work.

Texas Law Veteran's Association-Helpers for Heroes Law Clinics TLVA strives to be an advocate for veterans, disseminate information on veterans' benefits, and create a networking forum for students who support veterans. As part of its work, TLVA co-sponsors periodic "Helpers for Heroes" veterans law clinics with Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas. TLVA members assist volunteer attorneys at these clinics by interviewing veterans and helping veterans complete their intake forms.

Law Students for the Arts- "Ask An Attorney Law Clinics" Law Students for the Arts was founded in 2009 with the primary goal of aiding Austin-area artists, arts organizations and pro-bono legal referral service groups. LSftA is currently working on plans to hold an "Ask An Attorney" clinic where local artists can receive free legal advice.

J. Sutton Society – Earned Income Tax Credit Project In past years, students have been trained by the IRS and assisted low income families complete their tax returns.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

While the Pro Bono Program does not currently track the pro bono service of its faculty and staff, many members of the UT Law Faculty and Staff engage in pro bono work throughout the year. This includes working alongside students during the winter break service trip and student run law clinics, helping nonprofits and legal service organizations with various legal issues, and direct representation of clients.

Awards/Recognition

Texas Law Fellowships, a student organization, presents annual Excellence in Public Interest Awards to students, faculty and attorneys at a reception each spring.

The William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law presents annual public service awards to graduating students in the spring.

Community Service

Entering students participate in the First Year Initiative for Public Service, sponsored by the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law and the Office of Student Life. An orientation speaker introduces students to pro bono and public service as expected parts of every lawyer's career. Students then attend special classes on increasing access to justice, with presentations by a professor, a judge, a private attorney and a public interest attorney. Each of the eight student "societies" participates in community service projects.

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Eden Harrington
Director
William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law
E-mail
P: (512) 232-7068

Mary Crouter
Assistant Director
William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law
E-mail
P: (512) 232-7855

Mary Emma Civins
Director of Public Service Programs, Government Career Counselor
Career Services Office
E-mail
P: (512) 232-1162

Nicole Clark
Public Interest Counselor
Career Services Office
E-mail
P: (512) 232-1160

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

The Law School does not offer specializations. The Law School participates in a university-wide interdisciplinary Graduate Portfolio Program in Nonprofit Studies, as well as a Graduate Portfolio Program in Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Public Interest Centers

The Law School has a number of academic centers that bring together faculty, students and outside experts to study public interest issues.

Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice - www.utexas.edu/law/academics/centers/humanrights/

Capital Punishment Center - http://www.utexas.edu/law/academics/centers/capitalpunishment/

Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution - http://www.utexas.edu/law/academics/centers/cppdr/

William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law - www.utlawjusticecenter.com

Public Interest Clinics

The Law School has one of the largest clinical programs in the country, with sixteen separate clinics focused exclusively on public interest issues.

Actual Innocence Clinic – Students investigate claims by inmates that they are actually innocent of the offenses for which they are incarcerated.

Capital Punishment Clinic – Students assist in the representation of indigent defendants charged with or convicted of capital offenses.

Children's Rights Clinic – Students represent children as attorneys ad litem in cases where the state seeks custody or temination of parental rights.

Community Development Clinic – Students represent nonprofit organizations and individuals involved in community development and economic development in low-income communities.

Criminal Defense Clinic – Students represent indigent defendants charged with misdemeanors.

Domestic Violence Clinic – Students represent victims of domestic violence with a variety of civil legal problems.

Environmental Clinic – Students work with low income communities on projects to improve environmental quality.

Housing Clinic – Students represent low-income families in their housing-related legal problems.

Human Rights Clinic – An interdisciplinary group of law students and graduate students work on human rights cases and projects.

Immigration Clinic – Students represent low-income immigrants before the immigration courts and the Department of Homeland Security.

Juvenile Justice Clinic – Students represent indigent juveniles charged with a range of criminal offenses.

Legislative Lawyering Clinic – Students represent nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and political subdivisions in policy matters.

Mediation Clinic – Students mediate cases in the Justice of the Peace courts in Travis County and surrounding areas.

Mental Health Clinic – Students represent persons facing commitment to a mental hospital.

National Security Clinic – Students work on projects and cases related to the government's anti-terrorism efforts domestically and abroad.

Transnational Worker Rights Clinic – Students represent low-income immigrant workers to recover unpaid wages and also advocate for worker rights.

Externships/Internships

The Law School has an extensive field placement program, with seven separate courses regularly offered (and other courses occasionally offered):

  1. Access to Justice Internship – placements at remote legal service providers in Texas
  2. International Internship – placements at international courts, government agencies, and non-govermental organizations
  3. Judicial Internship - placements at state appellate courts and federal courts in Austin and around the country
  4. Legislative Internship - placements at the Texas Legislature in Austin
  5. Non-Profit/Government Internship - placements at nonprofit organizations and government agencies
  6. Prosecution Internship - placements at the Travis County District Attorney's Office
  7. U.S. Attorney Internship - placements at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Austin

Classes with a Public Service Component

The Law School offers an ever-changing assortment of courses each semester, a number of which have a public service component although they are not classified as clinics or internships. Students in such courses typically partner with faculty and courts, agencies or non-profit organizations to conduct research, draft reports, and develop policy recommendations.

Public Interest Journals

Texas Environmental Law Journal, http://www.texenrls.org/publications_journal.cfm

Texas Hispanic Journal of Law & Policy, http://www.utexas.edu/law/journals/thjlp/

Texas International Law Journal, http://www.tilj.org/

Texas Journal of Women and the Law, http://www.tjwl.org

Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights, http://www.utexas.edu/law/journals/tjclcr/

PI Career Support Center

The UT Law Career Services Office (CSO; http://www.utexas.edu/law/career) supports students interested in public service careers by informing them of career options, providing job search strategies and resources, and connecting them with potential employers. With experienced counselors, including two dedicated to public service careers (public interest and government), the CSO offers one-on-one career counseling, organizes on-campus and off-campus job fairs, sponsors resume workshops, invites speakers to address students on public service career-related topics, publishes the Public Service Career Development Handbook, and coordinates a variety of programming for students seeking careers in public service. Some of the programming we present each year includes: Introduction to Public Service Law, Public Interest Job Search Workshop, Equal Justice Works Fellowship Workshop, Skadden Fellowship Workshop, 3L Public Service Job Search Information Session, International Public Service Internship Opportunities, Careers in Government Panel, Careers in Criminal Law Panel, Department of Justice Honors Program Brown Bag, Presidential Management Fellowship Information Session, Foreign Service Information Session, FBI Brown Bag, CIA Brown Bag, Attorney General Information Session, Debt Management for Careers in Public Service Workshop, and How to Finance a Public Service Career Workshop.

The CSO also provides opportunities for students to network with other public service-minded students and employers. In the fall, the CSO hosts Public Service Table Talk http://www.utexas.edu/law/depts/career/public/pstt.html. Representatives from dozens of public interest organizations, as well as federal, state and local government agencies come to UT Law and host informational tables, which provide an excellent opportunity for students to network and find out about current volunteer opportunities, summer internships and postgraduate positions. In addition to the Table Talk, the CSO, in collaboration with UT Law's William Wayne Justice Center and the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center, hosts a Public Service Fall Party, where members of the law school's public service community gather to network and celebrate public service at UT Law. Students can also attend the CSO's annual Mentor Reception to meet and network with UT Law alumni and friends working in various sectors, including public interest and government.

Each spring, the CSO, in conjunction with the Texas Law Consortium, organizes and hosts Public Service Career Day ( http://www.utexas.edu/law/depts/career/employer/pscd.html), the largest public service legal job fair in Texas. During the two-day fair, public interest and government employers conduct interviews for paid and unpaid summer and permanent positions. Employers may request to interview first, second, third-year and LL.M. students and/or alumni up to one year after graduation from all nine participating Texas law schools. On the first day of the fair, employers may also host informational tables in UT Law's Susman Godfrey Atrium.

Student career exploration is further supported through a number of public service career resources the CSO provides, which include a UT Law Public Service Listserv, through which members receive daily e-mails regarding public service law events and job opportunities; PSLawNet, a national database of public service jobs, employers and career resources; extensive government and public interest career path Web sites, which detail information relevant to the public sector job search and include links to various resources ( http://www.utexas.edu/law/depts/career/public/index.html http://www.utexas.edu/law/depts/career/govt/index.html); and the CSO Resource Library, which houses numerous publications regarding public interest and government careers.

The CSO also provides students with information regarding a wide array of funding sources and opportunities including, but not limited to, Texas Law Fellowships, which sponsors public service fellowships for UT Law students; William Wayne Justice Center scholarships and fellowships, which are awarded on the basis of financial need, commitment to public service and academic credentials; UT Law Justice Corps Postgraduate Fellowships, which fund two years of postgraduate work in public service; and a variety of other summer, project-based, and organizational fellowships.

In 2008, the CSO introduced the Long Career Launch Program, a public service internship program for UT Law graduates. The Career Launch Program is designed to make it financially possible for recent graduates to obtain legal work experience while awaiting bar results. Graduates who are selected to participate in the program receive a stipend to support work in an unpaid legal internship with a government agency or 501(c)(3) public interest organization. We are delighted to report that the response from employers has been unanimous and overwhelmingly favorable. The success of the program has made great strides in promoting public service among our graduates and increasing access to justice in the community.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

The UT Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program provides financial assistance to graduating students with educational debt who enter qualifying public service, beginning with the Class of 2008. UT Law places a high value on working for the good of society, and the LRAP is designed to make it affordable for our graduates to choose to accept public service employment.

http://www.utexas.edu/law/academics/centers/publicinterest/lrap/index.html

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

The UT Law Faculty Fellowship in Public Interest Law has provided a $50,000 stipend, for two years, for an outstanding graduating law student to work with a public interest legal organization. The Fellowship was created through contributions from members of the law faculty and the Law School.

The George M. Fleming Fellowship provides a $50,000 stipend, for two years, for an outstanding graduating law student to work with a public interest legal organization, focusing on health law and advocacy. The Fellowship is supported by a gift from George M. Fleming, '71.

The Julius Glickman Fellowship provides a $50,000 stipend, for two years, for an outstanding graduating law student to work with a public interest legal organization to provide legal services to underrepresented individuals or groups. The Fellowship is supported by a gift from Julius Glickman, '66.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

Baron & Budd Scholarships in Public Interest Law -Supports students to do pro bono work for at least 300 hours during the academic year for a non-profit public interest organization in central Texas. This program provided funding for 6 students in 2008-2009 and 4 students in 2009-2010.

Chris Marshall Endowed Presidential Scholarship - Supports students interested in public interest careers in Texas.

Equal Justice Scholarship – Provides full tuition and fees for three years to an entering student with strong academic credentials, demonstrated commitment to public service, and a specific intent to serve low-income individuals or groups following graduation. The scholarship recipient must commit to working after law school on a full-time basis for three years providing direct legal services to low-income individuals or groups at a non-profit organization in the United States.

Human Rights Scholars Program – The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice sponsors scholarships for students interested in working in and studying human rights. This program provided funding for 3 students in 2008-2009 and 3 students in 2009-2010.

Lois Donaldson Endowed Presidential Scholarship - Supp

orts students interested in public service careers.

Public Service Scholars Program – The William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law sponsors scholarships to support public service-oriented students. This program provided funding for 5 students in 2008-2009 and 5 students in 2009-2010.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

Texas Law Fellowships, a UT Law student organization, raises funds to provide students with $4,000 fellowships to work in public interest positions over the summer. Texas Law Fellowships funded 23 students in 2007, 38 students in 2008, and 29 students in 2009.

Gifts from George M. Fleming, '71, Scott, Douglass & McConnico, L.L.P., and the University Co-op provided funds administered by the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law to support public interest work by students. The Justice Center funded 5 students in 2007, 6 students in 2008, and 10 students in 2009.

Gifts from the Cain Foundation and the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation provided funds administered by the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice to support human rights work by students. The Rapoport Center funded 8 students in 2007, 9 students in 2008, and 9 students in 2009.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

There are extensive extracurricular and co-curricular activities at UT School of Law focused on public interest issues. Nearly every week there are public interest conferences, lectures, panel discussions, symposia, special classes, pro bono activities and community service projects sponsored by the Law School. Student organizations, academic centers, clinics, faculty and the Law School administration all participate in developing public interest activities. Information about many of these activities is available on the Law School website.

http://www.utexas.edu/law/

Student Public Interest Groups

Domestic Violence Survivor Support Network, http://www.utexas.edu/law/orgs/dvssn

Environmental Law Society

Human Rights Law Society, http://www.utexas.edu/law/orgs/hrls/

Law Students for Reproductive Justice

National Lawyers Guild - University of Texas Law School Chapter

Pro Bono in January, http://texaspbj.blogspot.com

Public Interest Law Association

Street Law, http://www.streetlawtexas.org

Student Animal Legal Defense Fund

Texas Law Fellowships, http://www.texaslawfellowships.org

August 6, 2018