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Wayne State University Law School

Wayne State University Law School
471 West Palmer
Detroit, MI 48202

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Diane H. Fears, J.D.
Director, Wayne Law Student Voluntary Pro Bono Program
[email protected]
(313) 577-8039


Category Type

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


Description of Programs

The Wayne Law Student Voluntary Pro Bono Program encourages enrolled students to provide a minimum of fifty (50) hours of pro legal services to under-served individuals, communities and causes by working with eligible legal services providers, public sector entities, licensed attorneys, and members of the Wayne Law Faculty engaged in pro bono work. Participating students may select from published pro bono opportunities or propose other eligible work. Students who successfully render and properly document a minimum of fifty (50) pro bono hours during their law school careers are eligible for the Warrior Pro Bono Award and formal recognition upon their commencement.


Location of Programs

The administration of the program occurs within the law school. However, participating students render pro bono legal services under the supervision of licensed attorneys at various locations primarily within the metropolitan Detroit area.



A Director of the Pro Bono Program manages and oversees the administration of the program. Licensed attorneys pre-approved by the Director directly supervise student work during pro bono projects and/or pro bono work performed on an on-going basis.



Funding for administration of the pro bono program is derived from the law school budget.


Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

There are no known student run pro bono groups. However, students teach law to Detroit high school students in the Teaching Law in High School Program and assist local public interest organizations such as the ACLU and National Lawyers Guild in offering Know Your Rights presentations. In the Damon J. Keith Summer Pre-Law Institute, students and faculty introduce legal concepts and the prospect of studying law to undergraduate juniors and senior who reside in Detroit or are graduates of Detroit Public Schools Community District.


Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

The Wayne State University Law School faculty and administrative staff provide pro bono legal assistance and community service to a variety of organizations and causes. Services include direct legal services to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, drafting amicus briefs in impact litigation, and lending their expertise as board members for nonprofit entities, community development organizations, professional legal organizations, and educational institution affiliates.



Since the inception of the pro bono program, well over one hundred (100) students have fulfilled their pledge to devote fifty (50) hours of pro bono legal services and earned the Warrior Pro Bono Award. Graduates who have fulfilled the pledge and earned the award are celebrated in their commencement program and provided an honor cord in recognition of their devotion to pro bono legal services.


Community Service

The pro bono program, several student organizations, law school clinics, faculty, staff, and students routinely engage in community service projects. For example, the pro bono program has raised funds to support construction and operation of a shelter for pets of those fleeing domestic violence. The Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer sponsors an annual Winter Wishes gift drive for families impacted by cancer.


Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Rebecca Robichaud
Assistant (Clinical) Professor
Director of Clinical Education
Wayne State Law School
471 Palmer Street
Detroit, MI 48202
[email protected]
(313) 577-9991


Certificate/Curriculum Programs

Wayne Law’s robust public interest curriculum offerings allow students to immerse themselves in the Detroit community.   While there is not a certificate program, the curriculum contains a variety of options to prepare students for roles in public interest law advocating on behalf of marginalized or underserved individuals, communities, and causes.  Located in the heart of Detroit, Wayne Law students have opportunities to select courses, seminars, clinics, and externships focused on the local, regional, national, or international populations and issues that matter most to them.


Public Interest Centers

The Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights addresses the civil rights needs of southeast Michigan and beyond. The Keith Center's mission is to promote the educational, economic and political power of underrepresented communities in urban settings. The Keith Center strives to be a hub for civil rights teaching, research and action, and a place that fuels the next generation of civil rights leaders.

At the Keith Center, stakeholders gather to analyze policy, law students teach a civil rights curriculum to high school students, and leaders dive into the equity issues of the day, such as tax foreclosures, water shutoffs and police-community relations. We welcome the public for lectures by civil rights icons, we support community-based organizations, and we publish scholarship about how the law and social justice impact one another.

The Levin Center at Wayne Law's mission is to strengthen the integrity, transparency, and accountability of public and private institutions by promoting and supporting bipartisan, fact-based oversight; advancing good governance, particularly with respect to the legislative process; and promoting civil discourse on current issues of public policy.


Public Interest Clinics

Appeal and Post-Conviction Advocacy Clinic; Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic; Community Advocacy Clinic; Business and Community Law Clinic; Disability Law Clinic; Immigration Appellate Advocacy Clinic; Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic



Wayne Law offers a robust externship program that includes the following components:

Judicial Externship: students extern with judges, federal and state, trial and appellate.

Lawyering in Washington D.C.: students spend a semester in Washington D.C. externing with a government or non-profit organization focused on government oversight or civil rights. This program is offered in partnership with the Damon J. Keith Center and Levin Center.

Holistic Defense: in partnership with the Wayne State School of Social Work, students work at public defenders offices that provide a holistic approach to defending clients charged with criminal matters.

Public Interest: students extern with prosecutors and public defenders, federal and state; h federal, state, and municipal government agencies, with public interest law offices, and with nonprofit organizations.


Classes with a Public Service Component

Teaching Law in High School: students teach law in Detroit high schools


Public Interest Journals

Journal of Law in Society


PI Career Support Center

In 2007, the Law School announced the creation of the $3,100,000 Ziemba Scholarship Program, which will, beginning 2007-2008 provide approximately $150,000 annually in scholarships to students with a demonstrated commitment to careers in the public interest.

The Wayne Law Office of Career and Professional Development has a career advisor dedicated to public interest careers. The office hosts an annual Public Service Fair for students featuring local and national employers. It also sponsors or supports a wide variety of external career fairs including the nation’s largest public interest job fair, the annual Equal Justice Conference and Career Fair and the Midwest Public Interest Conference and Career Fair. Public interest and public sector employers also routinely take advantage of on-campus recruiting events and other recruitment tools including a dedicated jobs board.

The Office of Career and Professional Development is also the administrator of several public interest student fellowships including the Peggy Browning Fund Fellowships as well as Rural Summer Legal Corps and other fellowship opportunities offered by Equal Justice Works (EJW). The office also provides guidance and support for students pursuing postgraduate fellowships such as EJW and Skadden Fellowships.

Wayne Law is a member of Equal Justice Works and the PSJD, the Public Service Jobs Directory, providing Wayne Law students direct access to job opportunities as well as valuable information and resources regarding public interest careers.


Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)


Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:


Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:


Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:


Graduate Student Funded

The Law School has exchange programs with the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands and Warwick University in England. Students selected for these programs pay tuition at Wayne State.


Other Funding Sources:


Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

Law School Funded: Public Interest Law Fellowship (PILF)

Annually, the law school invites students pursuing unpaid or low-pay public interest or public sector summer positions to apply for limited summer funding to defray summer expenses.

The Freeman Fellowship funds one law student to enroll in the International Law Program each year at the University of the Hague in the Netherlands each summer.


Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:


Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Free Legal Aid Clinic


Student Public Interest Groups

American Civil Liberties Union (student chapter)

Animal Law Society

Conference on Anti-Trafficking Legal Advocacy

Environmental Law Society

FLAC (Free Legal Aid)


Keith Center for Civil Rights

Levin Center Students at Wayne Law

National Lawyers Guild

Voting Rights and Election Law Society

Wayne Law Diversity Coalition