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Appalachian School of Law

Appalachian School of Law
P.O Box 2825
Grundy, VA 24614

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Jina M. Sauls
Director of Community Service
P: (276) 935-4349, extension 1228

Category Type

Community Service Graduation Requirement Program

Description of Programs

ASL's mission is to develop professionals who will serve as community leaders and community advocates. ASL provides a unique opportunity for mandatory community service that students may complete in a variety of ways. A community service fair is held at the law school each fall. Representatives from civic groups or organizations attend this fair and provide information to the students about opportunities to volunteer with their organizations. Students are required to attend the service fair. Written descriptions of community service opportunities also are distributed to the students. In addition, students also may request approval of alternative projects in the local community or their home communities. The program is promoted to prospective students through ASL's catalog and website.

All students are required to complete 25 hours of community service per semester, for a total of 150 hours prior to graduation. Students may perform law-related pro bono work as part of their community service requirement.

Location of Programs

The community service program is administered by Ms. Jina Sauls, the Director of Community Service.


The Director of Community Service, Ms. Jina Sauls, provides oversight of the program at ASL. Ms. Jennie Clevinger is an Assistant to the Office of Community Service. Each project is managed by a community leader, a student or an employee, who communicate directly with Ms. Sauls.


The community service program is funded as part of the law school's annual operating budget. The budget includes salary for the Director plus an additional amount for miscellaneous expenses associated with operating the program.

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

In the past, students participated in a conflict resolution program in the Buchanan County elementary schools, using the curriculum designed by Streetlaw, Inc. Peer mediation was a large part of the conflict resolution program. The program provided training in the skills necessary for children and adults to resolve interpersonal conflicts in a peaceful manner. Law students selected for the program received 14 hours of formal training in conflict resolution and teaching skills.

Students have also assisted the Town of Grundy.Law students worked on projects of interest to the local government. Projects included an analysis of the economic impact of the Law School; review of the Army Corps of Engineers Proposal for Grundy Non-Structural Flood Control Project; research on the path of the proposed bike trail to determine property acquisition and/or easements; assistance with national media coverage; and review of Industrial Development Authority contracts. These students worked with the County Treasurer's office, the Commissioner of Revenue's office, and the Clerk of the County Court's deed records and abstracts. Students learned to research deeds and abstract property.

Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens. ASL students have provided assistance to the Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens, ("AASC"). AASC, a private, nonprofit agency, was established in 1975 to serve the region's older adults and their caregivers. AASC helps older adults remain independent and strives to improve seniors' health and quality of life. Law students assisted AASC in the development of a Legal Services Resource Guide for older adults and their loved ones. The Guide provided valuable information about legal issues involving personal autonomy. ASL students also organized an Elder Law Project with the help of AASC. The students provided law-related educational programs on Medicare and Medicaid fraud, living wills and powers of attorney to senior citizens in Buchanan County. This student-centered project won the ASL Community Service Award in 1999.

Court Appointed Special Advocates ("CASA"). ASL students volunteer to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates for abused or neglected children in Virginia and Kentucky. CASA is a national organization managed on a state and local basis through the court system. CASA volunteers are selected to watch over and to advocate for abused and neglected children and make sure that the children don't get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or suffer in an inappropriate group or foster home environment. The 29th Judicial District CASA program encompasses Buchanan County and employees two case managers that supervise volunteers from the community. A majority of these volunteers are from ASL. ASL students spend 30 hours in intensive training to prepare them to advocate for children in court.

Legal Aid: ASL students are provided with the opportunity to work with legal aid organizations that provide free or low cost legal assistance to individuals and groups who cannot afford to hire a private attorney to advocate for their rights. Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky, Inc., ("AppalReD"), and the Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society, ("SVLAS") are both approved organizations that provide ASL students with the opportunity to assist low-income individuals. The Director of Community Service at ASL has been working with the Executive Director and the Managing Attorney of the SVLAS to implement an intake project involving ASL students. ASL students will earn service hours on campus by assisting SVLAS with client interviews and intake. Attorneys from SVLAS oversee the project and provide extensive training to the participating students.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

ASL's Faculty Personnel Policies provide that faculty evaluation and promotion shall include review of "the faculty member's service to the School, the legal profession, and the community at large. This shall include the level of participation in the School's community service program as well as other service activities." The criteria used in tenure decisions include "dedicated service to the School, the profession, and the community at large." All faculty members participate in a variety of community service projects.


The "Sam Weddington Little Red Wagon Award" is presented annually to a student who demonstrates a desire to accomplish the goals of a service project, performs duties with an energetic, positive, and heartfelt attitude, and provides feedback about ways to improve services. The award is named after the late Sam Weddington who graduated from ASL in 2004. Sam and other members of the musical group, "The Law Revue," won the "The Little Red Wagon Award" three consecutive years at ASL. The original wagon award is derived from a donation to the Law school of a handmade red wagon by an elderly, poverty-stricken gentleman. The gentleman heard about the Law School's community service program and asked that we distribute the wagon to a "deserving child" because he "heard we gave a lot back to the community." The gentleman exemplified the attributes that a volunteer needs: one who gives from the heart.

The Willard Owens Award for Excellence in Community Service is presented annually to all 3L students who have performed a minimum of 300 hours of community service. The "Willard Owens Award" is named after the late Mayor of Grundy who dedicated many years of his life to the service of others.

Each spring ASL holds an awards banquet. Awards have been presented to students who have especially distinguished themselves in the community service program.

Upon graduation, a notation is made on the student's transcript as to whether or not the student has completed the community service requirement.

Community Service

County Mapping Project. A few years ago, Buchanan County worked to create a computerized mapping system to show the location of all county roads and all county water, sewer and natural gas lines. There were over 2,000 unmapped parcels of land in the county. Law students were taught to examine and use public land records in order to determine the ownership, location and description of the unmapped parcels. Students worked with the County Treasurer's office, the Commissioner of Revenue's office, and the Clerk of the County Court's deed records and abstracts.

The Buchanan County Humane Society. ASL students provide assistance to the local Humane Society. The goals of this Humane Society are to initiate an aggressive and active spaying/neutering campaign to reduce the overall number of unwanted animals in the County, to facilitate improvement of the conditions at the County Animal Shelter, to make the Animal Shelter more accessible, to increase the number of shelter animals adopted annually and to provide vital animal education to the community.

Home repairs and improvements for low-income residents through Buchanan Neighbors United, a grassroots community organization. Work usually is performed between March and November with volunteers who come from other regions of the country and participate in cultural exchange activities during their one- or two-week stay in Grundy.

Halloween Carnival: Each year Phi Alpha Delta, ("PAD"), sponsors a Halloween Carnival for all of the children in the community. The Carnival provides a one-stop opportunity for children to go Trick-or-Treating, get candy and play various games to win prizes. Games at the Carnival include a football throw, a treasure chest hunt and a fishing game. In addition, the children may participate in a cupcake walk, corn-hole toss, bowling and duck cauldron. Approximately 200 children participate each year from as far away as Kentucky and West Virginia. Students helping with this event are required to dress in an age-appropriate costume and volunteer over 30 hours of their time to make the event a success.

The ASL 5K Memorial Walk/Run: The annual race is held to commemorate the lives of Tom Blackwell, Tony Sutin and Angela Dales and to build a stronger community through their memory. The race raises money for endowed scholarships at ASL


Race weekend has become an anchor weekend on the spring calendar with several other campus activities scheduled around this extraordinary event including the Awards Banquet and the Barrister's Ball. Student organizers involved in this service project spend their time preparing for the almost 300 participants on race day.

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Sandra Keen McGlothlin
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

None listed

Public Interest Centers

None listed

Public Interest Clinics

None listed


All students at ASL complete a six week, three credit hour, Externship during the summer after their first year of law school. Students work approximately 200 hours in a judge's chambers, public law office, or public interest organization under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney. Each student is assigned a faculty coordinator, and the faculty conducts an orientation and a debriefing session before and after the externships.

Externship placements for students have included federal magistrate, district court, and circuit judges; state Supreme Court justices in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina; state trial judges in Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky; U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency; Virginia Attorney General's Office; Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky Legal Services offices; Tennessee District Attorneys; Virginia Commonwealth Attorneys; West Virginia District Attorneys; North Carolina District Attorneys; Kentucky County Attorneys; Georgia District Attorney; South Carolina Solicitor's Office; and the Air Force Legal Office.

Extern student experiences typically include a combination of the following: observe court proceedings, research legal issues, perform factual investigations, draft pleadings and legal memoranda, draft judicial opinions, update law libraries, and assist with trial strategy and problem solving.

Classes with a Public Service Component

A number of our Practicum courses have included service components. For example, students have had the opportunity to take part in service components in Professor Sandra McGlothlin's Family Law & Mediation course.

Public Interest Journals

The Appalachian Journal of Law's mission statement focuses, in part, on scholarship related to community service. The Appalachian Natural Resources Law Journal promotes the understanding of issues in the field of natural resources law.

PI Career Support Center

ASL's Director of Career Services, Ms. Denise McGeorge, maintains an active listing of public interest career opportunities.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

None listed

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:

None listed

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

None listed

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

ASL's Introduction to Law course features a number of speakers from public interest organizations; all new law students participate in this course. ASL and student organizations also sponsor luncheon speakers who address various areas of public interests work.

Student Public Interest Groups

ASL is a member of Equal Justice Works and the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation. ASL students are active in a variety of public interest organizations including the Sutin Public Interest Association, ("SPIA") and the Environmental Law Society, ("ELS").

August 7, 2018