Directory

University of Saint Thomas School of Law (MN)

University of Saint Thomas
School of Law (MN)
1000 LaSalle Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403-2005
www.stthomas.edu/law/

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Joel A. Nichols
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
E-mail
P: (651) 962-4827

Scott Swanson
Director of Academic Achievement
E-mail
P: (651) 962-4857

Category Type

Community Service Graduation Requirement

Description of Programs

Recognizing that lawyers are in a strong position to effect positive institutional and social change, the School of Law expects and encourages all students to explore a variety of ways their interests, skills, and talents can best serve the public. The public service requirement does not need to be law-related. Students are encouraged to satisfy the requirement through a range of activities consistent with the School of Law mission and that draw upon their own faith and values in serving the public.

Law students must complete 50 hours of qualifying public service as a prerequisite to graduation. Transfer students shall complete a number of hours prorated to the number of semesters they will spend at the law school. All other members of the law school community (administrators, faculty, and staff) are strongly encouraged to complete a minimum of 50 hours of qualifying public service every three years. Many members of the community far exceed these expectations. Pro bono activities undertaken by faculty and staff include representing prisoners in federal appears, drafting briefs for appellate courts, including the U. S. Supreme Court, assisting in petitions for commutation, and representing clients in various clinics. UST Law clinics are involved in forming nonprofit organizations, assisting with immigration difficulties, helping with elder law matters, and representing clients in misdemeanor matters pro bono.

The Public Service Program exists for three reasons: 1) to ensure that law students remain members of the broader community with all of the accompanying responsibilities; 2) to foster students' commitment to pro bono work throughout their legal careers; and 3) to fulfill the law school's commitment to service as articulated in its Vision Statement.

Location of Programs

Public Service Board and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Staffing/Management/Oversight

The Public Service Board (PSB) administers the program. The PSB consists of two first-, five second-, and six third-year law students in good academic standing. The PSB maintains and distributes information about public service opportunities; oversees the maintenance of the Logging System; determines whether particular activities constitute qualifying public service; and maintains records of qualifying public service performed by law students.

The dean appoints a member of the faculty or administration to advise the PSB. The advisor is responsible for general oversight of the program, including assuring the program's compliance with the program policy; advising the PSB on policy issues; and considering (and, where appropriate, recommending to the faculty) revisions to the program policy. The advisor provides the faculty with an annual program report. The responsibilities necessarily entail attendance at PSB meetings and events.

An administrative staff member will initially review all log entries in accordance with program precedent. This staff member will direct all novel or questionable log entries to the PSB and perform other administrative tasks as requested by the PSB or dean. The staff administrator also will certify satisfactory completion of the program requirements by law students.

Funding

The Public Service Board is funded through the law school's operating budget.

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

American Constitutional Society
Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA)
Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
Christian Legal Society
Criminal Law Association (CLA)
Delta Theta Phi
Elder Law Society
Environmental Law Society (ELS)
Family Law Society
Federalist Society
Health Law Society
Immigration Law Society
Jewish Law Students Association (JLSA)
Journal of Law and Public Policy (JLPP)
Latino Law Student Association
Law Democrats
Law Republicans
Lawyer's Council on Social Justice (LCSJ)
Lex Vitae
Military Law Society
Minnesota Justice Foundation
Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society
Native American Law Student Association
Out!Law
Public Discourse
St. Thomas More Society
Student Animal Legal Defense Fund

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

Law students must complete 50 hours of qualifying public service as a prerequisite to graduation. Transfer students shall complete a number of hours prorated to the number of semesters they will spend at the law school. All other members of the law school community (administrators, faculty, and staff) are strongly encouraged to complete 50 hours of qualifying public service every three years. Faculty and staff engage in a variety of pro bono and community service activities including representing prisoners in federal appeals, assisting in petitions for commutation, forming nonprofit organizations, assisting with immigration difficulties, helping with elder law matters, and representing clients in misdemeanor matters.

Awards/Recognition

Each spring, the UST School of Law has a Mission Awards Ceremony in which it recognizes students, staff, and faculty who have exemplified the law school's mission and vision. One category of award focuses on community and service. In addition, one member of the first-year class, the second-year class, and the third-year class is recognized with a Living the Mission Award which recognizes students with the highest level of commitment to the Public Service aspect of the Mission of UST. In addition, as part of graduation, the commencement program recognizes all graduates who have logged more than 150 services hours – three times our graduation requirement.

Community Service

The student-run Public Service Board works independently and with student organizations to infuse the law school culture with a commitment to public service by developing non-legal public service opportunities for students, including a Public Service Day each semester in which faculty, staff and students all are encouraged to participate. In addition, over the last year, the Public Service Board has developed relationships with a number of organizations with whom the law school now sponsors regular service projects. These include Habitat for Humanity and Feed My Starving Children. Moving ahead, the Public Service Board expects to develop a regular after-school mentoring program with at least one inner city school.

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Kendra Brodin
Director, Career and Professional Development
E-mail
P: (651) 962-4865

Monica Gould
Assistant Director, Career and Professional Development
E-mail
P: (651) 962-4862

Megan Sheppard Volk
Minnesota Justice Foundation Staff Attorney
E-mail
P: (651) 962-4859

Virgil Wiebe
Professor and Director of Clinical Education
E-mail
P: (651) 962-4976

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

While UST does not have a concentration in public interest or social justice, the registrar provides information to students about the array of courses most appropriate for students interested in pursuing a public interest or social justice emphasis. UST Law offers a variety of courses preparing students to work in careers directly serving the common good or providing representation to the disadvantaged. These courses cover public-interest-related subjects in both the criminal and civil contexts.

Public Interest Centers

The Public Service Board (PSB), described above, works independently and with student groups to infuse the law school culture with a commitment to public service by developing non-legal public service opportunities for students, including a Public Service day each semester in which faculty staff, and students are encouraged to participate.

In addition, students have the opportunity to volunteer with the Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF). An independent nonprofit organization, MJF creates pro bono opportunities for law students. Launched during the 1999-2000 school year, the MJF program enables law students to volunteer with legal services providers, government entities and law firms to help homeless and low-income clients and public interest agencies.

Public Interest Clinics

The Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services (IPC)is among the first of its kind in the country through which faculty and students from the disciplines of law, psychology, and social work collaborate to help clients in need. The Legal Services Clinic of the IPC oversees law clinic offerings: Appellate Clinic, Bankruptcy Litigation Clinic, Consumer Bankruptcy Clinic, Community Justice Project, Elder Law Clinic, Federal Commutations Clinic, Immigration Law Clinic, Immigration Appellate Clinic, Nonprofit Organizations Clinic, and Criminal Misdemeanor Clinic.

In the IPC, law students in several of the clinics frequently work side by side with students from the University of St. Thomas School of Social Work and Graduate School of Psychology. Under the guidance of the Center faculty, law students provide representation and assistance to the underserved populations of the Twin Cities on problems ranging from health care issues to political asylum to issues of social justice.

Over the past several years, UST has dramatically expanded its clinical offerings, going far in meeting demand from students and employers for training in practice ready competencies in a rapidly changing legal environment.

Externships/Internships

Public Interest externship offers students an opportunity to learn about public interest practice while engaging in significant hands-on legal work in a field placement at a public interest organization or government agency. Students will be challenged to discuss complex issues of ethics, access to justice, and professional growth through personal and group reflection exercises. Externship logs will serve both as a record of tasks accomplished and a reflection tool for the group project. The externship requires 150 hours of work from the student, between the field-placement and classwork components. Agencies will provide the extern with an appropriate workload designed to challenge the student while serving the mission of the organization.

The award-winning Mentor Externship program is one of the most distinctive and innovative components of the School of Law. It combines hands on experience with thoughtful reflection and gives each student a truly personal view of the legal profession.

Each year of law study, students are paired with a respected lawyer or judge in the community. Mentors introduce students to the work of lawyers and judges, through observation and hands on experiences with a range of legal tasks and activities such as depositions, client meetings or appellate arguments. Beyond introducing students to lawyering responsibilities, mentors share the traditions, ideals and skills necessary for a successful law career. Mentors also help students understand professionalism in ways that traditional classroom lecture cannot capture.

Over the course of three years, students build meaningful relationships with members of the bench and bar. More than 550 lawyers and judges currently volunteer as mentors in the program, and as a group they reflect the diversity of the profession in all its forms, including age, gender, ethnicity, practice area, geographic location and religion. Mentors also represent all sectors of the profession: private practice (solo to large firm), all levels of government, nonprofit and public interest organizations, in-hose counsel, prosecutors, public defenders, and nearly all levels of the judiciary.

The law school offers additional externship opportunities including Judicial Externship and Business Externship.

Classes with a Public Service Component

Equal Justice Applied Research seminar - Students choose research topics from the Legal Scholarship for Equal Justice (LSEJ) research topic list – a project of the Minnesota Justice Foundation - and work singly or in small groups to produce research papers that advance equal justice. Classroom sessions focus on the development of project topics, research skills needed for equal justice issues, policy analysis and problem solving, working collaboratively, the role of the public interest lawyer, and additional topics of interest to the participants. Class members are linked with the attorneys whose legal issues generated their projects. These attorneys serve as "field contacts" to help supervise the project. In addition, students spend approximately twenty hours on field work (either with their field contacts or other local public interest practitioners) to gain an understanding of public interest practice in general, the legal issues involved in their individual projects, and the real world implications of their topics. Students' completed works are presented before a CLE audience of lawyers at the end of the semester and are made available to practitioners, students, faculty and others on the LSEJ website.

Catholic Social Thought and International Law - Class readings and materials introduce the legal framework that governs international relations among nation states, with a special emphasis on the United Nations and its relationship to the domestic law of states, and also emphasize the Catholic Church's teachings on the role of international law. Students experience the process of international legal development through attendance, lobbying, and consultation with foreign delegations at an annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Each year representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to consider a particular theme related to gender equality, and identify challenges, propose global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women's empowerment worldwide. Prior to attendance at the meeting students will study Church teaching and international agreements or statements related to the theme of the meeting.

Public Interest Journals

None listed

PI Career Support Center

The Office of Career and Professional Development (CPD) publishes the "CPD Weekly", an electronic newsletter that informs students of public interest volunteer opportunities, employment opportunities, and networking events. In addition, CPD continually updates Symplicity, our student information database, so that we can easily identify students interested in public interest work and quickly disseminate information to those students when public interest employment/volunteer opportunities arise by sending personalized emails to those students. CPD also assists students with their application materials when applying for fellowships and other public interest and public sector opportunities. Additionally, the "CPD Weekly" announces the various programs offered by CPD, including all programming specifically targeting students seeking public interest or public sector employment.

CPD works with the Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF) to ensure students are seeking and obtaining volunteer experience with a long list of public interest organizations and legal aid agencies in Minnesota. CPD also works jointly with MJF to encourage qualified students to apply for local MJF fellowships and supports them in their application process.

CPD assists students in applying for UST Law's competitive clinic program, which has programs in appellate work, bankruptcy, consumer bankruptcy, immigration, federal communications, nonprofit organizations, misdemeanor law, elder law, and the Community Justice Project. CPD also assists students in applying for competitive national public interest positions and fellowships.

Lastly, CPD regularly conducts outreach with public interest and public sector employers to ensure they think of our law school when hiring needs arise and post available positions with us, given our multitude of bright, capable students interested in public interest work.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

The Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) of the School of Law will provide up to $6,000 in annual assistance for up to 10 years for qualifying applicants. In general, graduates who undertake public service jobs providing legal services to the poor and under-served will be eligible to receive assistance. Covered student loans are those loans taken out to pay for law school tuition. The amount of assistance will be based on an applicant's income, which takes into account salary, marital status, and child care costs.

Graduates in qualifying employment are also eligible to apply to Minnesota Loan Repayment Assistance Program.

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

The Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services provides an opportunity for UST School of Law graduates to further careers in public service by serving as postgraduate fellows. Fellows work as staff attorneys and supervise student work in collaboration with the faculty and staff of the center.

The fellowship positions are designed for recent graduates of the University of St. Thomas School of Law who have shown a demonstrated commitment to public service and social justice. Appointments are for one year, with the expectation that appointments will be renewed for a second year. Successful candidates should have previous experience in public interest law, strong communication and interpersonal skills, and excellent oral advocacy and writing skills. Prior participation in the Interprofessional Center is not required. Fellows will receive a salary competitive with entry level legal aid attorneys in Minnesota, an excellent benefits package, and substantial loan repayment.

University of St. Thomas Law graduates who are awarded fellowships will have an opportunity to gain significant legal practice experience, develop ties to other public interest lawyers and organizations serving the Twin Cities, and assist in the supervision of law students participating in the Legal Services Clinic. Fellowship recipients are expected to work closely with faculty and students in all three practice areas. Fellowship applicants must be eligible to practice law in the state of Minnesota and are expected to sit for the July bar exam following acceptance into the program.

http://www.stthomas.edu/law/admissions/financingyoureducation/

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

The John R. Roach Fellows receive a substantial loan from the School of Law to be applied toward their tuition costs with the understanding that they will undertake public service upon graduation. If a fellow works in a public service job for three years after graduation from law school, the fellowship loan is forgiven in its entirety.

The Roach Fellowships fall under the umbrella of the School of Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program and follow the same policies on the issue of qualifying employment.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

The UST Law Chapter of the Minnesota Justice Foundation, the law school annual fund, and the graduating class have joined together to support law students in their desire to work in non-profit, legal aid and public service professions. Students at the School of Law have the opportunity to participate in a competitive process to design their own summer fellowship in the public interest legal field. Each student must submit an application form, a ballot statement and provide a letter of commitment from the agency they intend to work for. Students have won fellowships to work for a variety of public interest agencies such as: the Council on Crime and Justice, ICLAD-Iraq Constitutional Project, Legal Services Advocacy Project, Tenth Judicial District Public Defender's Office, Youth Law Project @ Legal Aid, Friends of the BWCA, St. Paul City Attorney's Office, Center for Biological Diversity, Legal Aid of Oregon, and FAA – Airports & Environmental Law.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Vocation Retreats - The law school offers a weekend Vocation Retreat at the start of each semester which focuses, in part, on helping students reflect on how God is calling them to use their gifts to be of service to those in need, both as a law student and, in the future, as a lawyer.

In addition, as part of Orientation and as part of all Admissions Open Houses, we take time to talk with students about the Public Service Requirement and the importance of pro bono service.

Student Public Interest Groups

American Constitutional Society
Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA)
Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
Christian Legal Society
Criminal Law Association (CLA)
Delta Theta Phi
Elder Law Society
Environmental Law Society (ELS)
Family Law Society
Federalist Society
Health Law Society
Immigration Law Society
Jewish Law Students Association (JLSA)
Journal of Law and Public Policy (JLPP)
Latino Law Student Association
Law Democrats
Law Republicans
Lawyer's Council on Social Justice (LCSJ)
Lex Vitae
Military Law Society
Minnesota Justice Foundation
Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society
Native American Law Student Association
Out!Law
Public Discourse
St. Thomas More Society
Student Animal Legal Defense Fund

August 7, 2018