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Widener University Delaware Law School

Widener University
Delaware Law School
4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19803

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Cathy Zwolak Kilian, Esquire
Adjunct Professor
Clinic Attorney, Delaware Civil Law Clinic
Director, Public Interest Resource Center
[email protected] 302-477-2705


Category Type

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


Description of Programs

The Public Interest Resource Center (PIRC) is dedicated to connecting students with public interest information and volunteer opportunities. PIRC locates volunteer placements throughout the tri-state area and beyond. PIRC also monitors student and placement satisfaction, and tracks hours of service in order to administer the pro bono distinction graduation recognition program and nominate students for other pro bono recognition awards. Information regarding Delaware Law’s pro bono programs may be found at .


Location of Programs

The Public Interest Resource Center is a stand-alone program. It works cooperatively with other offices and departments such as career development, the clinics, and the externship program, but it is an independent entity with its own director.



Cathy Zwolak Kilian, Esquire
Adjunct Professor
Clinic Attorney, Delaware Civil Law Clinic
Director, Public Interest Resource Center
[email protected] 302-477-2705



The Public Interest Resource Center is funded by the school.


Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

Youth Court - Youth courts provide an alternative intervention to the regular school disciplinary system through which respondents be heard and judged by their peers. Working in schools in Chester, PA and in Wilmington, DE, the Delaware Law School students train middle school students to serve as jurors, youth advocates, judge, bailiff, or other officers of the court. After the 7-week training, the Youth Court hears real cases referred by the school’s disciplinary officer.


Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

Similar to our student policy, rather than require faculty pro bono service, we encourage and reward it. Our school has adopted a formal voluntary recognition policy for faculty pro bono service. Faculty members who report at least 30 hours of pro bono service for the academic year are distinguished with a red cord at graduation. In its first year, the 2005-2006 academic year, 18 faculty members received this distinction for performing a total of over 2500 hours of pro bono service.



In the spring of each semester, there is a student awards ceremony that serves to recognize students for service and academic achievement. At this ceremony awards are given to students based on a high level of commitment to public interest. At graduation, students who have earned pro bono distinction are noted in the graduation program and wear an honorary red cord.


Community Service

The Student Bar Association supports a number of service initiatives that give you the opportunity to practice your legal skills and give back to the community. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides free income tax help. Through other student organizations, you can also participate in the Breast Cancer Awareness Walk, Adopt-a-Family, and The Jared Box Project.  

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Cathy Zwolak Kilian, Esquire
Adjunct Professor
Clinic Attorney, Delaware Civil Law Clinic
Director, Public Interest Resource Center
[email protected] 302-477-2705


Certificate/Curriculum Programs

Although no formal certificate is offered, a sequence of courses are recommended for students interested in public interest law. These courses include: Disability Law; Employment Discrimination; Equal Protection Law; HIV, AIDS & the Law; Immigration and Naturalization, Crime & Punishment in the United States; Dignity Law; Federal Civil Rights Litigation; Domestic Violence Seminar; and Education Law.

Public Interest Centers

The Public Interest Resource Center - The Public Interest Resource Center (PIRC) serves as a centralized source of public interest information for students. PIRC keeps all students informed of public interest volunteer opportunities, advises students regarding public interest coursework, and counsels students and alumni who seek public interest legal careers. PIRC also administers the pro bono recognition program for students and faculty.


Public Interest Clinics

Delaware Civil Law Clinic - The Delaware Civil Law Clinic (“DCC”) provides free legal services to survivors of domestic violence seeking civil legal protection from abuse, as well as child custody, visitation and divorce matters. Legal representation also includes preparing wills, powers of attorney, and health care directives for elderly and terminally ill clients. The DCC operates in conjunction with Delaware Volunteer Legal Services, Inc. (DVLS), the pro bono arm of the Delaware State Bar Association. Third year students are admitted to the limited practice of law pursuant to Delaware Supreme Court Rule 56 and represent clients in Family Court. More information may be found at:

Environmental & Natural Resources Law Clinic – provides free legal representation to individuals and organizations confronting environmental issues arising out of federal, state and local laws. The Clinic handles cases such as appeals of regulatory decisions and enforcement of environmental laws, as well as advising client who seek advice or educational or legislative assistance. More information may be found at:

Innocence Delaware Legal Clinic- partners with the non-profit organization Innocence Delaware that provides legal representation to people unjustly incarcerated in Delaware for crimes they did not commit. More information may be found at:

Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Clinic – provides representation to people in Chester County who are indigent and charged with misdemeanors in state court. Clients are referred to the Clinic by the Chester County Public Defender. Students are certified by PA Supreme Court to represent clients in court under direct supervision of Clinic Director and Clinic Professor.

Veterans Law Clinic – Provides free legal representation to low-income, disabled veterans and their dependents for appeals to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The Clinic handles cases regarding disability compensation, needs-based pension, Section 1151 claims (malpractice-type claims against the VA), VA overpayment waivers, and dependency and indemnity compensation (survivor benefit). The Clinic also handles discharge upgrade applications and wills and related documents. More information can be found at:



PUBLIC INTEREST EXTERNSHIP PRGORAM: Every year Delaware Law place students who are enrolled in the Externship Program to government and public service law offices, where they spend the full year receiving academic credit while learning and working alongside attorneys carefully chosen for their skill, dedication and qualities as mentors. Students produce reflection papers on their observations and assess their field experiences in three case journals. In Wilmington, students have been placed with a variety of offices/agencies that include the following:

Camden County (NJ)Prosecutor

Chester County (PA) District Attorney's Office

Delaware County (PA) Domestic Abuse Project

Delaware County (PA) District Attorney's Office

Delaware County (PA) Public Defender's Office

Federal Public Defender (Wilmington)

Internal Revenue Service - Office of Chief Counsel (Philadelphia)

Mercer County (NJ) Prosecutor

Montgomery County (PA) District Attorney's Office

New Castle County (DE)(various offices/civil law)

Office of Senator Joseph R. Biden (Delaware)

Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General - Consumer Protection

Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General - Torts Litigation

Philadelphia Municipal Court Mediation Program

Philadelphia Regional Port Authority

South Jersey Legal Services (Camden)

State of Delaware, Department of Justice

State of Delaware, Public Defender's Office

Supreme Court of Delaware, Office of Disciplinary Counsel

U.S. Department of Justice - Office of U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee

U.S. Department of the Navy - Counsel for the Naval Inventory Control Point (Phila.)

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Administration Offices

Pennsylvania Department of State - Office of Chief Counsel

Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General

Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General

Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

JUDICIAL EXTERNSHIP PROGRAM (JEP): One-semester or full-year clinical legal field placement experience. Students are placed as part-time clerks for academic credit in the chambers of judges in State and Federal trial and appellate courts in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, including Federal Circuit, District and Magistrate Courts; State Supreme, intermediate appellate, and trial courts, and various other courts including U.S. Tax Court, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, state courts of equity and administrative law courts.

Delaware Law students work closely with judges who have graciously agreed to serve as mentors. The judges help the externs with objectives for their placements and careers, provide challenging research assignments, help externs hone their legal writing, and offer a unique perspective on the work of the courts. These placements often result in contacts and references for future employment. Through the prestigious Josiah Oliver Wolcott Fellowship, five students are annually placed with the Justices of the Delaware Supreme Court or Delaware Court of Chancery and includes a scholarship to addition to academic credit.

More information can be found at:

Classes with a Public Service Component


Public Interest Journals


PI Career Support Center

The Public Interest Resource Center (PIRC) work with the Career Development Office (CDO) to provide specialized counseling to students seeking public interest careers. Our offices collectively offer the following services:

  • resume review
  • mock interviews
  • fellowship/scholarship information
  • assistance with the competitive fellowship application process
  • information regarding opportunities for public interest work
  • preparation for public interest job fairs
  • workshops regarding interviewing, resume-writing, and networking.

< p>Each office maintains active communication with students via email in order to keep students informed about public interest opportunities. In addition, PIRC engages in continuous outreach with public interest agencies throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey in order to promote the Delaware Law student workforce and to develop new opportunities for students to engage in public interest work. 

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:


Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:

Public interest awards are given to graduating students who demonstrate a commitment to public interest law. These are funded by local bar associations.


Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

Students who qualify for work study may be paid throughout the school year for working in public interest externships, as long as they are not receiving academic credit.


Graduate Student Funded


Other Funding Sources:


Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Student Public Interest Groups

Delaware Law student organizations find ways to incorporate public interest into their activities from educating each other and the community, to encouraging members to participate in public interest opportunities.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Society

American Association of Justice

Black Law Students Association

Constitutional Law Association

Environmental Law Society

Food and Drug Law Association

Health Law Society

Intellectual Property Society

International Law Society

Latin American Law Student Association

Military Law Society


Phi Alpha Delta

Public Interest Law Alliance

Real Estate Law Society


Sports and Entertainment Law Society

Transactional Law Competition Team

Women’s Law Caucus

Youth Court League