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Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Yeshiva University
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
55 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Leslie Thrope
Director, Center for Public Service Law
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
55 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1128
New York, New York 10003
[email protected]
(212) 790-0360
Fax: (212) 790-0232

Azaleea Carlea
Assistant Director, Center for Public Service Law
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
55 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1126
New York, New York 10003
[email protected]
(212) 790-0337
Fax: (212) 790-0232


Category Type

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


Description of Programs

The Cardozo Center for Public Service Law initiates and coordinates Cardozo activities in the areas of public service and public interest, including panels and symposia, clinics, career opportunities, internships, clerkships, public interest stipends, post-graduate fellowships, and the loan repayment assistance program, along with new and creative initiatives. Our mission is to increase public service employment opportunities for students and alumni; to foster a supportive atmosphere in the law school for public service activities and programs; and to encourage all students to participate in pro bono and community service activities, as we believe there is nothing more important for lawyers, law students, and law professors than serving the greater public good. The Center for Public Service Law helps immeasurably in emphasizing the Law School's commitment to this ideal and in helping students find meaningful ways to engage in public service.

During First Year Orientation, The Center encourages students and provides them with information to become involved in the school's various Pro Bono Projects (Cardozo Youth Advocates, Courtroom Advocates Project, Cardozo Advocates for Battered Women, the Uncontested Divorce Program, the CONNECTing Survivors to Citizenship Program, the Cardozo Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, the Unemployment Action Center, the Suspension Representation Project, and the Housing Court Resolution Assistance Program). The Center also directs students to consult, legal services providers, and local and state bar associations for additional city-wide pro bono projects. Additionally, during Public Law Advocacy Week, many local organizations attend the Volunteer Fair where students can speak with representatives and sign up for various community service and/or pro bono projects. We also issue a weekly Newsletter with public service happenings including events and trainings, and provide assistance to all students interested in pro bono projects at organizations throughout the New York City area.


Location of Programs

The Center for Public Service Law



The Director and the Assistant Director are both full-time, paid positions.



Funded by the Law School/University as part of the Career Services budget. The Law School provides office space, computers and some funding for pro bono group projects.


Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

Cardozo Advocates for Battered Women
CABW is a student-run club that brings to the Cardozo community a variety of domestic violence advocacy programs. Programs include the Courtroom Advocates Project, the Uncontested Divorce Program, and the CONNECTing Survivors to Citizenship Program. CABW hosts several community events, including a holiday toy drive and the Valentine's Day/National Condom Week Condoms & Candy fundraiser. The group also hosts several panel discussions each year on issues like incorporating domestic violence advocacy into a legal career, the rights of incarcerated women who fought back against their abusers, and other issues that are important to raising awareness.

Courtroom Advocates Project
Students receive training to provide legal assistance to battered women seeking protective orders. Student advocates interview domestic violence victims and then help them draft and file their petitions, advocate for them during court appearances, educate them about their legal rights and remedies, and provide them with safety planning and referrals to community resources such as shelters and counseling.

Uncontested Divorce Program
Students receive training to provide legal assistance to survivors of domestic violence seeking uncontested divorces throughout New York City.

Cardozo F.I.R.E. (For Immigration Rights and Equality)
Students assist immigrants who can apply for the new Deferred Action Childhood Arrival Program (DACA).

Unemployment Action Center
Students receive training to help laid-off workers navigate the regulatory maze of unemployment benefits and to advocate on behalf of their clients before administrative hearing officers.

Cardozo Youth Advocates
Students visit Washington Irving High School, a public school near Cardozo, to teach a weekly class to high school students called Law Talk. The class covers a variety of topics—law students facilitate conversations about such legal issues as the death penalty, same-sex marriage, the First Amendment and children's rights. This program is intended to get young people thinking and talking about the law.

National Lawyers Guild
The National Lawyers Guild is an association dedicated to the need for basic change in the structure of our political and economic system. The organization seeks to unite the lawyers, law students, legal workers and jailhouse lawyers of America in an organization that functions as an effective political and social force in the service of the people, to the end that human rights shall be regarded as more sacred than property interests.

Cardozo NLG represents the Cardozo School of Law chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

Prisoner's Rights Projects
Through the Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS) Incarcerated Mothers Law Project, students are trained to counsel incarcerated mothers on Riker's Island. Students provide one-on-one legal counseling to mothers on child custody and visiting issues and help conduct legal information sessions for groups of mothers on their rights and responsibilities as to their children while incarcerated.

Resolution Assistance Program
Students receive training to assist unrepresented tenants and owners/landlords who are appearing in the Resolution Part of Housing Court as parties to nonpayment proceedings.

Disaster Relief Projects
Students provide legal assistance to residents in areas affected by natural disasters. For example, following Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, many students participated in the Student Hurricane Network, traveling over spring break to areas along the Gulf Coast to assist residents with storm-related legal issues. The Cardozo Sandy Relief Network is a current project that trains students to work with clinics and other legal organizations established throughout the metro area to assist those affected by Superstorm Sandy.

Suspension Representation Project
Students advocate for New York City public school students in superintendents' suspension hearings and help safeguard their right to education. Students are trained and supervised by experienced student mentors.

Veteran's Rights League
Students assist military veterans with general legal issues.

See more at:


Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono



During Public Law Advocacy Week, Cardozo hosts its Annual Public Service Recognition Ceremony, INSPIRE! The event honors students, faculty, staff, and alumni in our community who INSPIRE us to serve the public good.

During graduation ceremonies, the Law School recognizes outstanding public service law students through a variety of awards, including:

  • E. Nathanial Gates Award: for outstanding academic work or public advocacy that contributes to the achievement of equal justice under law.
  • Jonathon Weiss Award for Public Interest Law: for commitment to public interest law during the student's law school career.
  • Stanley H. Beckerman Public Interest Award: for outstanding commitment to assisting less fortunate persons in need of legal representation by virtue of excellent performance in a clinic, exceptional qualities, and career choice.
  • Archie A. Gorfinkel Award: for the most promising and accomplished graduate entering the field of criminal law.


Community Service

Passover Food Drive, Annual Holiday Toy Drive, Annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) street homeless survey, AIDS Service Center, Disaster Relief Projects, including Superstorm Sandy relief and the Haitian earthquake response.


Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Leslie Thrope
Director, Center for Public Service Law
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
55 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1128
New York, New York 10003
[email protected]
(212) 790-0360
Fax: (212) 790-0232

Azaleea Carlea
Assistant Director, Center for Public Service Law
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
55 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1126
New York, New York 10003
[email protected]
(212) 790-0337
Fax: (212) 790-0232


Certificate/Curriculum Programs

Each year, a small group of competitively selected students are admitted to Cardozo as Public Service Scholars. During the admissions process, the law school identifies and provides three-year scholarships for up to twenty in-coming students per year who demonstrate a commitment to public service and a high level of academic achievement. The Public Service Scholars Program provides a unique opportunity for committed students to share and explore their interest in public service law throughout their three years of law school. They are offered a range of programs to stimulate intellectual discussions on public service and to expand their social and professional networks in the public sector.

Through a mixture of benefits, including tuition assistance, a mentoring program, specialized academic and social events and help with securing summer internships, Public Service Scholars are given the opportunity to learn the practical and academic aspects of public service law along with a cohesive group of fellow colleagues throughout their studies in law school.


Public Interest Centers

Center for Public Service Law - The Cardozo Center for Public Service Law initiates and coordinates Cardozo activities in the area of public service and public interest law, including panels and symposia, clinics, career opportunities, internships, clerkships, public interest stipends, post-graduate fellowships, and the loan repayment assistance program, along with new and creative initiatives. The Director and the Assistant Director of the Public Service Law Center work closely with the Burns Ethics Center, the Public Service Scholars Program, the Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal, public interest student groups including Public Interest Law Student Association (PILSA) and the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), and members of the faculty. The Center develops programs and outreach to government agencies, federal and state judges and courts, and not-for-profit agencies.

The Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies - Established in 2003, the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies is one of the first of its kind at any law school in the United States. Initially funded by a Holocaust claims settlement award, the Program is dedicated to the memory of all victims of the Holocaust, and strives to illuminate the past while acting on behalf of the victims of genocide and other human rights violations wherever they are found. The Program mission is to engage in legal education, scholarly research and publication, and advocacy on issues related to the Holocaust, genocide prevention, and international human rights.

Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy was established in 2000 through a generous gift from Dr. Stephen Floersheimer. Its goal is to better understand, and to assist in improving, the functioning of constitutional democracies, both at home and abroad. The Center supports research by scholars and policymakers, hosts speakers and conferences, issues publications, and provides financial support for visiting scholars as well as student projects. Topics of particular concern include civil liberties in an age of terrorism, the structures of democratic government, and the relationship between church and state.

The Jacobs Burns Center for Ethics in the Practice of Law sponsors courses, programs, and events that provoke dialogue and critical thought on ethical and moral issues of professional responsibility. The Center helps prepare students to face, with integrity, the difficult and important questions that arise in all areas of legal practice.

The Howard M. Squadron Program in Law, Media and Society offers many opportunities for students interested in communications law and policy. With a strong focus on transnational studies and the application of new technologies, the program offers study-abroad opportunities at Oxford, seminars in media law taught by visiting professors from Hungary, and a focus on research involving the impact of the Internet. The Program sponsors symposia and panels of interest to students of media law, art and entertainment law.


Public Interest Clinics

Alexander Fellows Program
In this selective program, students work as full-time law clerks for federal judges in the New York City area.

Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic
Students represent elderly clients or those with disabilities in civil matters, including cases involving entitlement to government benefits, housing issues, consumer matters, family problems and wills.

Consumer Rights Field Clinic
Students extern in consumer rights projects at selected legal services offices with advocates who are at the forefront of city- and state-wide consumer protection reform. Students assist in protecting the rights of low-income consumers against improper practices by the burgeoning third-party debt collection industry.

Criminal Appeals Clinic
Students receive intensive training in appellate advocacy, learn New York State criminal procedure, and argue an appeal in court.

Criminal Defense Clinic
Representing defendants charged with misdemeanors in the Manhattan Criminal Court, students work with clients from their initial interview through trial and sentencing.

Divorce Mediation Clinic
Divorce mediation has become an accepted alternative to litigation in the resolution of the complex issues raised in family restructuring. This course is designed to provide both practical mediation experience and theoretical insight into divorce mediation and family law practice.

Family Court Judicial Clinic
Students are placed for one-semester with a Family Court judge or with an attorney representing clients in Family Court.

Family Defense Clinic
The field clinic examines child welfare law and policy, and offer students litigation experience in high-stakes child neglect proceedings.

Holocaust Claims Restitution Practicum
The first of its kind at an American law school, this one-semester clinic has students investigate and pursue claims made by Holocaust survivors and their heirs.

Housing Rights Clinic
Students assist in providing advice to unrepresented litigants in Housing Court and may work with the clinical supervisor on housing law reform projects, an intensive lawyering experience that includes litigation and public policy.

Human Rights and Genocide Clinic
A one-semester introduction to international human rights litigation and advocacy in coordination with nongovernmental organizations and United Nations offices here and abroad.

Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic
In this year-long clinic, students represent immigrants facing deportation in immigration court and in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Innocence Project
The model for similar programs in law schools around the country, this innovative clinic was founded and supervised by Prof. Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld. Students represent convicted prisoners in their claim of innocence through post-conviction DNA testing.

Intensive Trial Advocacy Program (ITAP)
A two-week intensive practicum in which second- and third-year students learn and practice litigation skills in a simulated courtroom experience.

Labor and Employment Law Clinic
Students in this year-long clinic represent clients of various labor and employment law matters arising under the wage and hour laws, collective bargaining agreements, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Unemployment Compensation Law.

Mediation Clinic
The centerpiece of Cardozo's Alternative Dispute Resolution Program, this clinic is where students learn to become problem solvers and develop communication, negotiation, and drafting skills. Students mediate disputes between landlords and tenants, family members, neighbors, community groups, business partners, and teachers and students.

New York City Law Department Appeals Division Practicum
students work in the Appeals Division of the New York City Law Department (also known as the Office of the Corporation Counsel ) . The Law Department serves as attorney and counsel for the City of New York and City agencies in all legal matters.

Prosecutor Practicum
Students in this full-time internship work as student assistant district attorneys at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

Securities Arbitration Clinic
Students serve as advocates for claimants in securities arbitration and mediation cases.

Tax Clinic
Students have primary responsibility in representing clients with tax controversies.

Youth Justice Clinic
The Youth Justice clinic provides a unique opportunity for an in-depth experience working with youth and their communities in New York's criminal justice and education systems. Students will represent young people in the Bronx in school suspension hearings where that student is also charged with a criminal offense.



Students gain invaluable real-world experience when they participate in one of Cardozo's externship programs. Credit is awarded for working in the public sector for a judge, nonprofit organization or government agency. Students work under the direct supervision of an attorney for a semester and take a co-requisite seminar taught by an experienced practitioner in the field. - See more at:

Public Sector Credited Internship Program
The credited internship program allows for students who secure semester internships with a public interest organization, governmental agency, or a judge's chambers to apply for 2 credits for 12 hours per week of work.

New York City Law Department Internship Program
Students who participate in the New York City Law Department's Internship Program can receive 2 credits for working in one of the Law Department's divisions during a semester.


Classes with a Public Service Component

Classes with a Public Service Component

Animal Law
Appellate & Certiorari Practice
Children's Law
Civil Rights
Advanced Constitutional Law
Advanced Criminal Law
Domestic Violence Law
Election Law; Voting Rights
Environmental Protection; Natural Resources
Ethics in the Public Interest Context
Government; General Public Policy & Legislation
Health Law
Human Rights; Humanitarian Law
Immigration and Asylum Law
International Policy & Development
Low-Income Taxpayer
National Security; Community Safety
Non-Profit Organizations
Prisoners' Rights
Racial Justice/Race Theory
Sexual Orientation and the Law
Worker's Rights; Corporate Responsibility


Public Interest Journals

Cardozo Public Law, Policy, and Ethics Journal examines how lawyers can advocate in the public interest, how legal issues affect the commonwealth, and how ethical choices affect the law and public at large.

Cardozo Journal of Law and Gender offers challenging and alternative perspectives on such subjects as health care, family law, and civil rights. It was the first journal to publish a women's annotated legal bibliography.

Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution focuses on topics in alternative dispute resolution and mediation and sponsors the annual International Advocate for Peace Award.


PI Career Support Center

The Director and the Assistant Director of the Center for Public Service Law provide individual counseling and guidance to all students and alumni interested in public service careers. They organize career symposiums, panels, and workshops to assist students in learning more about public service careers. The school also maintains the Public Interest Resource Center, which is part of the Office of Career Services, which includes numerous publications and guides to assist students and alumni in their job search.

Other Career Related Services:

Many government and public interest employers participate in the fall and spring recruitment programs. They interview students for both post-graduate opportunities as well as semester or summer internships. Numerous on campus informational sessions and panels are held on public interest career related issues, for example: Public Sector Job Search, Summer Funding Programs, Interviewing in the Public Sector, Post-Graduate Fellowship Informational Session, Post-Graduate Clerkship Panel, Working for the Government Panel, Annual Practice Area Symposium, Government Practice Area Symposium, Judicial Internship Panel and Informational Session. The Center for Public Service Law and the Office of Career Services host a number of annual networking events for students to interact with alumni, including the Annual Public Interest Networking Event held during the Public Law Advocacy Week.


Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

In September 2008, prominent philanthropist, Laurie M. Tisch made a $5 million gift to establish the Laurie M. Tisch Loan Repayment Assistance Program at Cardozo. This endowment strengthened and expanded the existing LRAP program to provide annual forgivable loans to graduates working in public service up to five years post-graduation to assist them in overcoming their educational debt. In 2012 a total of $310,000 was awarded to 81 alumni who graduated in the prior 5 years were provided awards ranging from $1,000 - $11,000. - See more at:


Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

Bridge to Practice Fellows. Cardozo launched its Bridge to Practice Postgraduate Fellowship program in 2005. The fellowship provides financial assistance to selected graduates who seek to contribute to the public good through legal work in the public sector before they commence permanent employment.

Fellows must secure an unpaid position in the public service law sector that consists of legal work under the supervision of an attorney. They are awarded $3,000 for a ten week period of employment in the public law sector, with a minimum requirement of 20 hours per week.


Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:


Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

Public Service Scholars. During the admission process, the law school identifies and provides three-year scholarships for up to twenty in-coming students per year who demonstrate a commitment to public service and a high level of academic achievement.


Graduate Student Funded


Other Funding Sources:


Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

Cardozo Public Interest / Public Service Stipend: Awarded to first and second-year Cardozo students who have secured voluntary public interest/public service, government, or judicial legal internships during the summer. Funding for some of these stipends is provided through the David Berg Public Interest Summer Fellowship and the David Rudenstine Fellowship, which are awarded to students with a demonstrated commitment to working with underserved communities.

Cardozo Federal Work Study Program: This federal program provides funding to students for public service internships.

Cardozo International Human Rights Fellowship: Awarded to first and second-year Cardozo students who demonstrate a commitment to International Human Rights and working abroad.

Summer internships in the public sector are frequently uncompensated. To encourage first- and second-year students to explore public interest law and to meet the demands of these interested students, Cardozo provides grants to all students who complete a rigorous qualification process. In summer 2013, the law school provided 244 grants of $4,000 each to qualified students.


Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:


Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Examples of recent public service workshops, symposiums, lectures and events at Cardozo:

The Fight for Education Equality

A Deeper Look Into Human Trafficking: Contemporary Slavery, The Sex Trade, And Beyond

Hurricane Sandy Relief Training

Where are We Now? Abortion Access in America Today

Defense and Prosecution Panel Event

Mind the Gap: Addressing Disproportionate Environmental Damage in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

The Cardozo Journal of Law and Gender presents: By the People, For the People...But Which People?

Practice Profile Lunch Series Throughout the year, practitioners meet informally with students to discuss their area of practice. One-half of these lunches are dedicated to public sector practitioners.

Public Law Advocacy Week An annual event that provides students with a week of daily panels, working lunches on issues related practicing as public interest lawyers. Panels have included: Connecting Survivors of Domestic Violence to Citizenship,From Public School to Prison: Students Imperiled Rights and Freedoms, School Segregation Today, How to Get the Most Out of the Public Interest Legal Career Fair, Legal Spanish, Investing in a Greener Future: Buying Carbon Credits under Kyoto, Gay with Straight: Fostering a Society Beyond Labels, Debunking the Myths of Illegal Immigration, and Challenges and Alternatives to Public Housing.


Student Public Interest Groups

Cardozo Advocates for Battered Women

Cardozo Advocates for Kids

Cardozo Law Students for Reproductive Justice

Cardozo National Lawyers Guild

Cardozo Students for Human Rights

Cardozo Unemployment Action Center

Cardozo Youth Advocates

Labor and Employment Law Society

Outlaw, Gay and Lesbian Law Students Association

Public Interest Law Students Association

Student Animal Legal Defense Fund

Suspension Representation Project