Directory

University of Massachusetts School of Law - Dartmouth

University of Massachusetts
School of Law - Dartmouth
333 Faunce Corner Road
North Dartmouth, MA 02747
www.umassd.edu/law/

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Leslie Becker Wilson
Director of Legal Career Services
E-mail
P: (508) 985-1168

Category Type

Pro Bono Graduation Requirement Program

Description of Programs

The Pro Bono Program graduation requirement is part of the law school's integrated approach to producing practice-ready, justice-centered lawyers. To graduate, every student must complete at least 30 hours of law-related pro bono service under the supervision of an attorney, between the completion of the student's first two semesters of law school and the end of the third month of the student's last semester of law school. Students are encouraged to seek out opportunities that address the unmet legal needs of the surrounding community.

The program is intended to cultivate and enhance the habit of pro bono service, as well as to expose students to careers through which they can serve the public. As part of the requirement, students sign a pledge that stresses the importance of public service as part of the legal profession.

Performing pro bono work is also a means for students to gain practical legal experience and build a professional network. The Career Services Office encourages students to perform their pro bono hours at organizations that fit with their individual interests and career goals. Students have performed pro bono volunteer hours in a variety of settings, including pro bono projects for private practices, nonprofits, academia, legal service providers, and public defender offices, as well as for numerous local, state and federal governments in the executive, judicial and legislative branches.

The Pro Bono Program is administered through the Career Services Office, which provides guidance to students on securing pro bono placements though a wide variety of resources. The Career Services Office conducts outreach to potential placements in order to develop new opportunities for students to satisfy the requirement. All placements must be approved by the Career Services Office before the students accrue hours that count toward satisfying the program.

Location of Programs

The Pro Bono Program is located within the Career Services Office, which is part of the law school's Office of Student Engagement and Professional Development.

Staffing/Management/Oversight

The Director of the Career Services Office manages the Pro Bono Program, including approving each student's placement, reporting each student's satisfaction of the requirement, and planning the annual Pro Bono Volunteer Fair at which students learn about pro bono opportunities with the participating organizations.

Funding

The Pro Bono Program budget is part of the budget of the Career Services Office within which the program is located, which is funded through the law school's operating budget.

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

  • ADA Note-Taker/Scribe Program: selected students serve as note-takers/scribes in any course offered by the law school for students with documented disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Alternative Spring Break: students traveled to the Dominican Republic and Haiti to investigate human rights violations in the border regions
  • Dean's Fellow Program: selected students volunteer 2-3 hours per week for a semester to provide tutoring and peer mentoring to law students in academic difficulty
  • Durfee High School Pilot Program: students introduced high schoolers to basic legal concepts
  • Street Law Clinics: student led workshops in Brockton, New Bedford, and Taunton

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

  • Board Member, National Center for Law and Economic Justice
  • Board Member, Pro-Life Legal Defense Fund (and supervised students conducting legal research for the organization as research assistants and in connection with earning Pro Bono Program credit)
  • Board of Directors, Bristol County Bar Association
  • Board of Directors, New Bedford Bar Association
  • Co-Editor, ABA Business Law Section Committee on Community Economic Development E-Newsletter
  • Founding Member, MA LGBTQ Task Force on Youth in Courts
  • Member, ABA Children's Litigation Subcommittee
  • Member, Massachusetts Advocacy for Children's Education Law Task Force
  • Presenter, Know-Your-Rights Workshops on Citizenship, Immigration and Naturalization
  • Review Panel, Southeastern Regional Transit Authority
  • Volunteer, National Employment Law Project
  • Volunteer, New Bedford Workers Center/Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores (CCT)
  • Volunteer, Special Education Surrogate Parent Program
  • Volunteer Moot Court Appellate Judge, Committee for Public Counsel Services Post-Conviction Panel

Awards/Recognition

The law school recognizes students who perform pro bono service that significantly exceeds the 30 hours required by giving the following awards at the time of graduation: the "Servant of Justice Award" for performing at least 100 hours, and the "Leader for Justice Award" for performing 200 or more hours.

Community Service

  • Advisor, New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School Library
  • Associate Member, Town of Lexington Zoning Board of Appeals
  • Black Law Students Association, holiday party for local needy families
  • Board Member, Folk Arts Center of New England
  • Board of Directors, ArtWorks
  • Board of Directors, Kingston Public Library Foundation
  • Board of Directors, YMCA Southcoast
  • Board President, Bristol Good Neighbors Soup Kitchen (and invited two law students to join the board as Directors)
  • Chair, Middleboro School Committee
  • Delta Theta Phi Legal Fraternity, blood drive
  • Leader, Preserve Brookline
  • Library Trustee, Kingston Public Library
  • Member, Brookline Town Meetings
  • Member, Greater New Bedford Allies for Health and Wellness' Domestic Violence Subcommittee
  • Member, South Coastal Friends of Legal Services
  • Mentor, Boston College Law School
  • Volunteer, Christ Community Church of East Taunton
  • Volunteer, Gold Star Wives of America
  • Volunteer, Golden Tornado Club of Malden
  • Volunteer, Linden Public School
  • Volunteer, political campaigns
  • Volunteer Teacher, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD)
  • Volunteer Teacher, Saturday enrichment program for high school seniors

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Professor Margaret Drew
Director of Clinical Programs and Experimental Learning
E-mail
P: (508) 985-1126

John Quinn
Director of Public Interest Law Programs
E-mail
P: (508) 910-6602

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

None listed

Public Interest Centers

Public Interest Law Fellows: Approximately 20%-25% of the members of each incoming class receive the law school's Public Interest Law Fellowship (PILF) scholarship. PILF participants are selected at the time of admission to the law school and receive a waiver of half of all tuition and academic fees. In exchange, PILF participants agree to pursue full-time careers as attorneys in public interest law for at least four years following admission to the bar.

The PILF program offers a comprehensive, integrated program which is designed to train law students for careers in public service. This program provides specialized counseling, frequent exposure to public interest lawyers and policymakers, and numerous opportunities for "hands on" experience in public interest law internships.

Justice Bridge Incubator: The law school opened the doors of Justice Bridge, Massachusetts' first legal incubator, in August 2014 in Boston and in March 2015 in New Bedford. It is fitting that the Commonwealth's only public law school has made a commitment to an access-to-justice incubator that has at its core the fundamental principles of justice, fairness, accessibility and service. UMass Law is committed to improving access to justice in Massachusetts and preparing students to practice as justice-centered lawyers who use their legal education for the greater good.

Since its launch, the fifteen (15) attorneys currently participating in the program are meeting the previously-unmet legal needs of individuals who do not qualify for free legal services but who are also unable to pay market rates for legal services. The Justice Bridge attorneys are exploring ways to serve clients within their budgets, including using limited assistance representation, flat fees, and unbundling. The Assistant Director of Career Services, who has over 20 years of small and solo firm practice and teaches our Law Practice Management course, is actively involved in the attorney selection process to support the substantial number of our graduates who regularly choose to go into solo and small firm practice.

Justice Bridge has a dozen regular mentors who rotate in residence at the Justice Bridge offices and over three dozen on-call mentors with expertise in the areas most common among the clients we are serving: family law, housing, elder law, employment law, immigration law, and consumer law. Justice Bridge provides training in the areas of practice its lawyers are most likely to encounter, in ethics, and in the business of practice. Justice Bridge has developed partnerships with over 20 community organizations in Boston and on the South Coast who have referred over 800 clients to Justice Bridge lawyers in the past year. The goal is to help deliver quality, affordable representation, while reducing the growing number of low and moderate income individuals representing themselves in family, housing and probate courts.

Public Interest Clinics

The law school's public interest clinics are the: (I) Community Development Clinic; (II) Criminal Prosecution Clinic; (III) Immigration Law Clinic; and (IV) Mashpee Wampanoag Legal Services Clinic. In all of these clinics, students are actively involved in providing pro bono legal services to community clients under the supervision of faculty and licensed attorneys.

Externships/Internships

The law school believes it is important that students acquire the skills and values necessary for satisfying careers, while at the same time wants to ensure that the members of the neighboring community who are unable to afford private attorneys access the justice system. Thus, the law school has adopted a "practical skills" requirement, which mandates that all students take at least six credits of skills courses; since three of the six practice credits must be satisfied through a clinic or field placement course, it ensures that all students will have a real professional practice experience.

The law school's public interest externships and internships are offered in the Field Placement Program, through which students are placed at a nonprofit organization, government agency, or judicial office, and the Coordinated Field Placement Program, through which students are placed at a nonprofit organization, government agency, or judicial office as a supplement to a doctrinal class in which they are concurrently enrolled.

Classes with a Public Service Component

The Community Research Project (CRP) is the third semester of our required Legal Skills Program. Students work in teams of four or five to solve real-world problems for legal services agencies in this project-based collaboration-focused course. They perform research and analysis for a representative of the agency, but do not engage in direct client representation. The CRP advances UMass Law's mission by integrating skills training and public service. In addition, the program answers calls for reform in legal education by teaching skills and values in a real-world context, and by developing skills in problem solving, collaboration, and organization of legal work.

At the start of each project, the class interviews a representative of the agency. The teams then draft project outlines and research plans. They then conduct the necessary legal and factual research, and produce several drafts of the written work product, usually a traditional predictive memorandum. Next, the teams make oral presentations to the faculty member teaching the course. The team that makes the best presentation then presents to the agency representative. Based on the representative's questions and feedback, the teams do additional research and revisions, and submit their final memoranda. The best memorandum is presented to the agency.

The course is taught in classes of 20 to 24 students. Most class meetings resemble workshop sessions. Although there are some set pieces and exercises, much of the class involves facilitation as the teams plan and organize their projects, conduct their research, plan their presentations, and write up their findings. The course's team-based learning model has generated high levels of student engagement.

CRP projects often involve traditional research memoranda. However, the course could also involve drafting training or compliance materials, community education materials, model briefs, or proposed legislation. In the four projects undertaken so far, the CRP has served three different divisions of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (the Massachusetts Public Defender's Office). The projects have involved the rights of mental health patients in involuntary and conditional voluntary commitment proceedings, the rights of parents and children in care and protection proceedings, and juveniles' right to counsel in delinquency proceedings.

Additionally, a service component is incorporated into the Domestic Violence doctrinal class.

Public Interest Journals

The law school's Law Review has a dual mission to: (I) provide a vehicle for meaningful engagement with legal scholarship through service; and (II) advance the study and development of law within the Commonwealth. Recently, the Law Review amended its mission to specifically include a commitment to access to justice. While the journal still provides a forum for traditional legal scholarship, the editors make a concerted effort to highlight articles identifying legal issues that impact those most lacking access to the justice system.

By focusing its efforts on publishing articles that address the legal challenges plaguing our more vulnerable populations and the critical role of access to legal representation, the UMass Law Review accomplishes two goals. First, the UMass Law Review can reach the legal community in such a way as to promote the law school's mission of advancing justice within the Commonwealth and beyond through scholarship. Second, by highlighting these articles, our students who serve on law review, through their research and the editing process, gain a much deeper understanding and appreciation of these issues and take that with them after graduation and into practice.

PI Career Support Center

The Career Services Office staff assists students interested in careers in public interest law with the development of strategies to secure employment meeting their career goals. The staff does so by providing resource materials, individual career counseling, assistance writing resumes and cover letters, development of networking skills, interview preparation, on campus interviewing opportunities, specialized public interest job fairs, public interest panels, and networking events.

The Director of Public Interest Law Programs works closely with the law school's Public Interest Law Fellows and other students interested in careers in public interest law, through one-on-one meetings as well as by engaging students in a wide range of public service events and projects in the community.

Additionally, as an Equal Justice Works and a PSJD member law school, the law school's students have access to an extensive array of public interest law career resources, as well as full access to other public interest resources regarding specific fellowship, judicial clerkship, public policy and other government positions to which the Career Services Office subscribes.

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:

The Career Services Office staff assists students interested in careers in public interest law with the development of strategies to secure employment meeting their career goals. The staff does so by providing resource materials, individual career counseling, assistance writing resumes and cover letters, development of networking skills, interview preparation, on campus interviewing opportunities, specialized public interest job fairs, public interest panels, and networking events.

The Director of Public Interest Law Programs works closely with the law school's Public Interest Law Fellows and other students interested in careers in public interest law, through one-on-one meetings as well as by engaging students in a wide range of public service events and projects in the community.

Additionally, as an Equal Justice Works and a PSJD member law school, the law school's students have access to an extensive array of public interest law career resources, as well as full access to other public interest resources regarding specific fellowship, judicial clerkship, public policy and other government positions to which the Career Services Office subscribes.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

The Public Interest Summer Stipend Program enables students to explore public interest law as a possible career path. Students are awarded stipends for working in full-time public interest legal internships for nonprofit or government organizations for an eight-week period during the summer. The awardees are selected though a competitive application process. The applications are distributed during the spring semester and are accompanied by a panel presentation on public interest summer funding opportunities.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

As part of its mission to foster a commitment to public service, the Career Services Office partners with the Director of Public Interest Law Programs on programming which provides students insight into a wide range of public interest law careers including working in criminal defense, environmental law, and municipal law, as well as in courts, the JAG Corps, and the legislature among others.

Additionally, monthly "Brown Bag" discussions focus on various practice areas including those within public interest law, such as children's rights, criminal law, and immigration law, and the occasional "View from the Bench" series brings judges from all levels of the state judiciary to discuss their careers in public service.

The Career Services Office regularly sponsors presentations to promote conversation about the opportunities available in, and the personal and professional rewards associated with, public service. Presentations include annual "Judicial Clerkships and Internships" and "Public Interest Summer Funding" panels.

Furthermore, the law school is a member of the Massachusetts Law School Consortium (MLSC) which is comprised of the eight ABA accredited law schools in Massachusetts. MLSC members collaborate to annually host several career-related programs highlighting different practice areas, including those focusing on careers in public service, which are open to students from all the member law schools.

Student Public Interest Groups

The law school's public interest student groups are:

  • Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA)
  • Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
  • Criminal Law Society (CLS)
  • Federalist Society
  • International Law Students Association (ILSA)
  • Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA)
  • Legal Association of Women (LAW)
  • OUTLaw
  • Student Veterans Association (SVA)

August 7, 2018