DePaul University College of Law

DePaul University
College of Law
25 East Jackson Blvd
Chicago, IL 60604

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Cheryl D. Price, J.D.
Director, Pro Bono and Community Service Initiative
DePaul University College of Law
25 East Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604
P: (312) 362-6202

Category Type

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

Description of Programs

The Pro Bono and Community Service Initiative

A project of the Center for Public Interest Law, the Pro Bono and Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) connects students with rewarding and flexible volunteer opportunities in both legal and non-legal settings. PBCSI works with six partner organizations but students are not limited to working with these sites. Past volunteers have staffed a guardianship help desk, taught lessons on the constitution to elementary school kids, hosted interview workshops for juveniles with criminal histories, tutored kids, educated at-risk youth about their legal rights, worked at legal clinics, and helped individuals transition from homelessness. In 2011, PBCSI developed The Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project, a pro bono help desk staffed by law student volunteers to assist the homeless with expunging and sealing their criminal records and obtaining state IDs. The number of opportunities presented and the number of students involved continues to grow every year. In 2009, the school approved an aspirational goal that each DePaul College of law student completes at least fifty hours of pro bono or community service during their time at the law school.

Location of Programs

The Center for Public Interest Law


PBCSI is a project of the Center for Public Interest Law. PBCSI is managed by a part-time attorney director and three students who are members of the Center for Public Interest Law Committee. University Ministry is also involved.


College of Law

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

The Pro Bono and Community Service Initiative matches students with pro bono and community service projects both in and out of the legal community. PBCSI works with six partner organizations that provide students with a positive, meaningful volunteer experience. Students are not limiting to volunteering with a PBCSI partner and PBCSI is committed to helping students find a pro bono or community service site that fits their interests and schedules. PBCSI also runs The Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project ("NLAP"), a pro bono legal help desk that assists the homeless with sealing and expunging their criminal records and obtaining state IDs and provides brief advice and referrals for other legal and social service issues. NLAP is staffed with law student volunteers and a supervising attorney. The Pro Bono "Staycation" is another PBCSI pro bono project. It takes place over spring break and gives students the chance to help low-income clients while gaining legal experience and making contacts with local public service organizations. Additionally, PBCSI offers at least one law student/alumni pro bono day where students and alumni work on teams to prepare advanced directives for low-income seniors. PBCSI also recruits students to assist with discrete pro bono projects for local legal aid agencies, such as research and writing assignments.

Although not managed by PBCSI, the College of Law also offers the following pro bono opportunities:

The Domestic Violence Project at the Cook County Domestic Violence Courthouse Student volunteers assist pro-se petitioners seeking Emergency and Plenary Orders of Protection. Law students gain valuable experience completing and filing all pleadings for the Order of Protection and accompanying petitioners to court. Additionally, students network with attorney supervisors, pro-bono attorneys, Cook County Judges and personnel, and the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic. This project is sponsored by the Schiller Ducanto & Fleck Family Law Center.

The Cook County Juvenile Detention Center Spring Break Project
DePaul law students spend 5 afternoons during spring break week participating in both the design and presentation of interactive workshops for juveniles residing in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center. Workshop topics include: juvenile records expungement, street law, school law, creative arts, negotiations, and job searches. This project is sponsored by the Schiller Ducanto & Fleck Family Law Center.

The U Visa Summer Pro Bono Project
For the past four summers DePaul's Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic has sponsored a volunteer project pairing law students with immigrant crime victims in need of assistance in pursuing immigration benefits. The Clinic partners with 26 community-based organizations (CBO) serving low-income immigrants throughout the Chicagoland area and assist clients potentially eligible for a U visa. In order to participate in the Project, law students must be willing to donate 40 hours over the course of the summer in order to assist undocumented immigrant victims of crimes under the supervision, training and support of law faculty. Law students are provided with training on client interviewing skills, legal writing, eligibility for the U visa, and professional responsibility to support their work. With the support of faculty, law students are responsible for meeting and interviewing the U visa applicant, developing evidence, drafting affidavits, indices of supporting documents and memoranda and completing submission of the U visa application.

Spring Break Border Project
Also sponsored by DePaul's Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic, the Spring Break Border Project provides law students with the opportunity to represent detained immigrants in their removal proceedings in Harlingen, Texas, near the US-Mexico border, over spring break. Students visit the detention facilities, interview clients, assist with factual and legal research, present cases in court and otherwise assisted the work of attorneys and paralegals at South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR), a not-for-profit organization dedicating to serving immigrants and refugees in detention.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

No pro bono requirement exists for faculty. Many, however, are involved in a variety of pro bono projects including: leadership with local social service-oriented agencies, immigration/asylumcasework and human rights projects.


There is a recognition reception for students completing at least fifty hours of pro bono or community service hours at the end of each academic year. Students also receive awards for completing 100 and 200 hours of service and graduating students who have completed 200 or more hours of service receive the Benjamin Hooks Distinguished Public Service Award.

Community Service

1L Service Day
Held directly after Orientation, the 1L Service Day gives incoming students the chance to "hit the ground running"when it comes to service at DePaul while raising awareness of social justice issues. Students volunteer for the day at a variety of sites throughout the city, including schools, parks, homeless shelters, and community centers. College of Law staff, faculty, and students serve as site leaders for this service day.

Donate-a-Day Program
Students are provided with one-time volunteer opportunities that support local non-profit organizations or schools. Each volunteer event - which typically lasts 4 to 6 hours - allows students to gather and get to know one another in a relaxed social setting while working with underserved or at-risk individuals or groups or providing much-needed labor for building or beautification projects.

Service Immersion Trips
To promote an understanding of the local and regional challenges that exist outside of Chicago, the College of Law offers two service immersion trips. These trips provide DePaul law students a unique opportunity to view social justice issues from a new perspective.

New Orleans Service Trip
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in January 2006, a group of committed law students spent a week in New Orleans engaging in physical labor to help clean-up neighborhoods and homes, attending meetings on plans to rebuild the community and supporting the outreach of various social justice agencies. DePaul students, in collaboration with DePaul University Ministry, have returned to New Orleans every year since as they continue to learn about and engage with the people of New Orleans. Today, our work still involves home rebuilding but has expanded to include outreach and services to the homeless, as well as meetings with legal professionals and civic leaders in the community.

Washington D.C. Service Trip
Since 2010, DePaul law students, with the support of University Ministry, have traveled to Washington D.C. for a week over Winter Break to learn about the realities of homelessness in America's capitol. During our time in the District, students visit with public interest attorneys, social justice lobbyists and educators to learn about policy and advocacy efforts on behalf of those on the margins. The week also involves significant direct service as students work, serve and stay in a homeless shelter. Tours at significant sites such as the Supreme Court, U.S. Capitol Building and the National Mall are also part of this immersive experience.

Just Us Girls Conference
Sponsored by the Schiller Ducanto & Fleck Family Law Center, the Just Us Girls Conferenceworks with over 500 at-risk teenage girls, ages 12-18. The conference, which is held at the College of Law, offers a full day of workshops led by community leaders, psychologists, legal professionals, and school personnel. The workshops focus on social and legal issues that the girls and their families face. DePaul law students help organize and run the event, interact with the girls, and participate in workshops.

Chiapas Human Rights Practicum
The Chiapas Human Rights Practicum allows students to travel to Chiapas, Mexico for ten days to meet with the major human rights and indigenous organizations in the community. Students stay primarily in San Cristobal where local human rights lawyers, activists and community leaders teach students about the local legal and political situation. Students will also spend time in the countryside, visiting communities where human rights workers are located. In the past, the group has visited Oventic which is one of the Zapatista centers (caracoles) and the village of Acteal, many of whose inhabitants were massacred by paramilitaries in 1997. Prior to departure, students must participate in a series of pre-trip orientation meetings scheduled for week-day afternoons. Students are eligible to receive two credit hours for the practicum. Spanish-speaking students are eligible for stipends to work the entire summer in a human rights office.

Law School Public Interest Programs 

Contact Information

Shaye Loughlin
Director, Center for Public Interest Law
P: (312) 362-7212

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

DePaul offers a Public Interest Law Certificate. The program entails required and elective coursework and an experiential and service component. Please visit for detailed information.

Public Interest Centers

Center for Public Interest Law - The Center manages all aspects of the public interest law program, including the Public Interest Honors Scholars program, public interest legal writing, a specialized section of the first-year Legal Analysis, Research & Communications course, the Pro Bono and Community Service Initiative, the Journal for Social Justice, a speakers and mentors program, a Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), and greatly expanded contacts with the public interest community. Please visit the Center website for more information:

Public Interest Clinics

All of the clinics at the College of Law are public service. Community-based service learning has a long tradition at DePaul University, and the College of Law exemplifies this practice through its clinical programs. Under faculty supervision and guidance, students sharpen their skills and knowledge while engaging in legal practice outside the formal classroom setting. They earn academic credit while concentrating on the problems faced by clients in seven distinct areas: Asylum/Immigration, Civil Rights, Criminal Appeals, Death Penalty, Family Law, Housing & Community Development, Misdemeanor, Poverty Law, Special Education Advocacy and Technology/Intellectual Property. Clinics are open to law students starting their second year, with programs lasting either one semester or an entire academic year. Please visit the Clinic website for more information:


An extensive externship program exists offering placement in many public interest fields. The program is open to upper level students and requires 180 hours field work per semester. Please visit for detailed information.

Classes with a Public Service Component

A few courses have experiential public interest components. Such courses include Mediation, Chiapas Human Rights Practicum, (, Economic Justice, Domestic Violence.

Public Interest Journals

Journal for Social Justice - The Journal for Social Justice is a publication of the Center for Public Interest Law. It promotes discussion of public policy issues, encouraging submissions of interdisciplinary work. The journal offers legal practitioners, community leaders, academics and students, the opportunity to voice their concerns, share their unique experiences, offer radical viewpoints and propose solutions. Journal articles are meant to reflect the experiences of the author. The Journal also explores alternative publication formats and expands content options to broaden access and better engage readers.

Center for Public Interest Law Newsletter – The Advocate – The Center for Public Interest Law publishes a quarterly newsletter.

PI Career Support Center

Alisa M. Rosales, J.D.
Director for Public Interest Law, Law Career Services
P: (312) 362-8387

The Career Services office has a staff member dedicated to public interest career services. For more details, please visit

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

The LRAP is now in its eighth year. There are ten 2013 LRAP Recipients. Please visit for more information.

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:

Public Interest Honors Scholars - The Scholars program is a program for Dean's Merit Scholarship recipients with excellent credentials and a demonstrated commitment to the public interest. As part of the program, the College of Law guarantees the students a scholarship for public service work during the summer after their first year. The program also includes a number of special events and faculty and alumni mentors for the scholars.

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:

DePaul offers a number of summer funding opportunities for students dedicated to public service.

Helen M. Cirese Fellowship
The family of Helen M. Cirese family created this summer stipend for a student who is working in public interest law and has demonstrated high academic achievement, a commitment to public service and issues that impact women.

Cudahy Fellowship
The Patrick and Anna Cudahy Fund, a foundation which supports social service, youth, and educational organizations, has awarded several summer fellowships to students choosing to work the summer after their first year at a public interest agency of their choice.

Albert & Anne Mansfield Foundation Fellowship Program:
The Mansfield Foundation provides two stipends for students who wish to work for Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago.

Pusateri Fellowship
The Pusateri Fellowship is part of a larger grant to the College of Law by the family of the late DePaul alum Lawrence Pusateri. It is dedicated to the facilitation of working in public service.

Vincentian Summer Fellowships
The DePaul University Office of Mission and Values has created to stipends for students who are committed to public interest work and to learning more about the life and legacy of St. Vincent de Paul. These stipends are only available for students who work for non-profit organization.

Public Interest Law Association (PILA) Stipends
Every year, DePaul's student-run Public Interest Law Association hosts a benefit auction to raise funds for summer stipends to support students interested in working in public interest law for the summer. Stipends enable students to work at non-profit legal organizations. For the past three years, PILA has been able to provide about 15 stipends a year to DePaul public-interest law students.

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Lunchtime Speakers - CPIL, sometimes in partnership with various student groups, sponsors lunchtime events that feature speakers and presenters to discuss different public interest and social justice topics and issues.

Public Interest Honors Scholars - The Scholars program is a leadership program for students with excellent credentials and a demonstrated commitment to the public interest. The program includes a number of special events, the opportunity for alumni and faculty mentors for the scholars and the chance to be leaders in developing the public program at DePaul.

Public Interest Legal Skills Series – CPIL sponsors a series of skill based learning programs for students. Experienced practitioners create the syllabi and teach the non-credit course during the lunch hour. A broad number of transferable skills such as discovery are also taught. Students who attended all sessions in each series are given a Certificate of Completion. The Skills Series is not meant to be a casebook course, a clinic, or a classic skills course. Instead, each Series will focus on a discrete area of the law and use actual case files, including pleadings, depositions, documents, and judicial opinions – to immerse students in the laboratory of legal skills.

Receptions - CPIL sponsors evening receptions throughout the year. Specifically, there are receptions to mark the start and the close of the school year, to connect student with mentors in the public interest law community and to celebrate the LRAP recipients and program.

Vincentian Conference - CPIL sponsors an annual conference with a panel and key-note speaker presenting issues and topics related to public interest.

Student Public Interest Groups

American Constitution Society - Hosts speakers and panel events

National Lawyers Guild - Hosted speakers, film discussions. Trained legal observers. Sponsored trip to School of the Americas Protest for law students.

Outlaws- Hosts events to raise awareness about legal issues concerning the gay community

Public Interest Law Association - Hosted speakers and panels; raised and distributed money to students working in public interest fields

The Society for Asylum and Immigration Law - SAIL exposes law students to the area of asylum and immigration law through guest speakers, presentations, conferences, and more. SAIL accepts and encourages an exchange of ideas between different points of view in an effort to create a more complete and educated dialogue

August 7, 2018