University of Connecticut School of Law
Law School Pro Bono Programs
Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program Characterized by a Referral System with Coordinator(s)
Description of Programs
The Office of Career Services, in conjunction with the Public Interest Law Group (PILG), promotes and facilitates pro bono and public service opportunities and placements through the Pro Bono Program. The Pro Bono Program, which was started in 2000, provides support to legal professionals in serving the community and educates students about their legal and ethical responsibilities. Through the Program, the Law School underscores the role of public service in an attorney's life and makes students aware of the critically unmet needs in the community. The Pro Bono Program gives students the opportunity to perform valuable community service while fostering a tradition of pro bono work that will accompany them throughout their professional careers.
The Pro Bono Program relies heavily on the feedback from participating students and their supervising attorneys and/or agencies to evaluate the quality of pro bono placements.
Location of Programs
Office of Career Services
The Public Interest Law Group (PILG) assists the Office of Career Services with the Pro Bono Program. PILG is involved in promoting the program and encouraging students to undertake pro bono placements.
The Pro Bono Program is funded through a Law School Foundation endowment. The annual budget is in excess of $5,000.
Approval for administrative support for pro bono group projects is made on a case by case basis depending on the link between the particular project and the overall mission of the school.
Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects
[Students have the option of getting credit for some of these opportunities.]
The Center for Children's Advocacy - Students represent abused and neglected children and on class action litigation as well as testimony to be given to the state legislature. An adjunct faculty member supervises the students.
Hartford Superior Court (Family Court) - Students assist with domestic violence restraining orders.
Connecticut Urban Legal Initiative (CULI) - Students work on community economic development and revitalization projects and assist in advising non-profit groups in Hartford and Waterbury. An adjunct faculty member supervises the students.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) - Students volunteer to assist low-income taxpayers with preparing their income tax returns.
Connecticut Unemployment Action Center - Students represent unemployment insurance claimants in the greater Hartford area. Faculty members supervise.
Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono
The Law School formally adopted a statement of faculty responsibilities in December 2001. It contains the following provision:
"The School prepares its students for a profession with substantial obligations of community service. Accordingly, faculty members are encouraged to participate as fully as their teaching and scholarly obligations permit in the work of bar association, other professional groups such as the American Law Institute and learned societies in their fields of specialization. In addition, faculty members are encouraged to lead by example in projects that help meet the unmet legal needs of the community."
All student organizations and pro bono group projects have faculty sponsors/supervisors.
Students receive recognition certificates for outstanding service based on number of hours worked in pro bono projects. The Law School also recognizes student commitment to public service through individual awards at graduation including the Honorable M. Joseph Blumfeld Prize, the National Association of Women Lawyers Award, the Joseph F. Noonan Memorial Award, and the Women Law Students Association Award.
In addition to its other work, PILG manages and promotes its own community service projects.
Law School Public Interest Programs
The Law School offers a great variety of coursework and clinical opportunities dealing with public interest and public service. There is no formalized certificate program, nor required curriculum. Students may, however, structure a study program focused on public interest law under the guidance of faculty academic advisors. The curriculum includes more than enough offerings to facilitate such a program through a combination of clinical-based and advanced study courses, including by way of example: Advanced Civil Procedure (Class Actions), Advanced Constitutional Law, American Indian Law, Civil and Political Rights, Comparative Constitutional Law, Structural Limitations in Constitutional Law, Due Process Clauses, Federal Courts, Family Law, Problems in Family Law, First Amendment Law Freedom of Religion, Housing and Civil Rights, Advanced Individual Income Tax Law, International Conception of Rights, Church and State, Poverty Law, Social Welfare Law, and The Supreme Court. In addition to our many clinics offered, the Law School often offers a Poverty Law Clinic that involves direct student representation of indigent clients and an explicit focus on the needs of the poor.
Public Interest Centers
The Office of Career Services is home to the Law School's Public Interest Resource Center. In this regard, the Office maintains extensive public interest/public sector job resources and position postings and organizes various job fairs and programs throughout the academic year dedicated exclusively to public interest and government opportunities. The Office also administers a Pro Bono Program in response to student interest and commitment to public service in the community.
The Law School is home to two major not-for-profit centers, which are intimately connected to student work and the curriculum. They are the Center for Children's Advocacy directed by Martha Stone ([email protected]) and the Connecticut Urban Legal Initiative directed by William Breetz ( [email protected]).
Public Interest Clinics
The Law School offers the following clinical programs:
- Advanced Administrative Fieldwork
- Administrative Clerkship
- Children's Advocacy
- Civil Rights
- Advanced Civil Rights
- Criminal Appellate Division
- Advanced Criminal Appellate Division
- Employment Discrimination Law
- Health Law
- Human Behavior
- Judicial Clerkship
- Legislative Clerkship
- Poverty Law
- Poverty Law Fieldwork
- Tax Law
- Advanced Taxation
- Women's Rights
- Criminal Trial Division
- Political Asylum
- Civil Appellate (Juvenile Justice/Child Protection)
- Urban Legal Development.
The Law School offers students the opportunity to develop an extensive array of externships for academic credit in public interest settings that are directly related to their individualized interests. Most recently, Law School students have earned academic credit for externships with organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, Connecticut Legal Services and Western Massachusetts Legal Services.
Classes with a Public Service Component
The Law School regularly offers courses that involve formal classroom teaching and real-world service to the community. The following opportunities meet that standard and are regular course offerings:
Center for Children's Advocacy – Martha Stone, Director, [email protected]
Connecticut Urban Legal Initiative – William Breetz, Director, [email protected]
Street Law – This course has been taught by various professors. The Registrar's Office can provide information about the current instructor(s), [email protected].
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – Diana Leyden, Tax Clinic Director, [email protected]
Public Interest Journals
The Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal maintains a website at https://cpilj.law.uconn.edu/. The Journal is managed exclusively by students and is aimed at bringing greater attention to public interest legal scholarship.
PI Career Support Center
The Office of Career Services, as home to the Law School's Public Interest Resource Center, provides assistance to students seeking a career in public interest/public service. While the entire counseling staff is equipped to help public interest minded students, the Assistant Director serves as the primary contact for such students.
The Office of Career Services also administers a Pro Bono Fund designed to help defray the costs incurred by students attending public interest/public service job fairs. Since the Fund was established, the Office of Career Services has been able to host an annual public service job fair as well as many other events devoted exclusively to careers in public interest law.
Additional details about current career-related public interest/public service events can be obtained by emailing [email protected].
Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)
Students, with the support and guidance of Law School Faculty and Administrators, are currently working to craft a program which will provide meaningful financial assistance to students and graduates who decide to make a career in public interest/public service. A bill to fund such a program was passed by the Judiciary Committee of the General Assembly in the 2000-2001 general session but has not yet been adopted by the entire Assembly.
Law School Funded:
Graduate Student Funded:
Other Funding Sources:
The Law School, through programs hosted and resources maintained by the Office of Career Services, encourages students to apply for public interest fellowships. In recent years, Law School graduates have secured one and two year fellowships from organizations such as the Skadden Foundation and Equal Justice Works.
Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships
Law School Funded:
Graduate Student Funded
Other Funding Sources:
Law School Funded:
Graduate Student Funded:
The Public Interest Law Group funds summer grants each year for students who plan to work in low and non-paying jobs that serve the public interest. The number of grants available in any given year is dependent upon how successful the group's fundraising efforts have been. Over the last five years, the group has been able to fund between 8-12 grants each summer.
Other Funding Sources:
Similar to students' ongoing application for funding from outside programs on a post-graduate basis, students are encouraged to, and do, apply for a variety of public interest fellowships and stipends to support public service summer positions.
Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs
The Law School sponsors many different activities to promote public interest. Most recently the Law School hosted an event that included a lecture series, a film series, a symposium, and faculty presentations on Human Rights.
The lecture series featured the following presentations:
- "Images of Blacks in the Media" – a lecture featuring Robert Stephens, Director of the Institute for African-American Studies, and Ann-Marie Adams, a staff writer for The Hartford Courant
- "Business Responsibility for Promoting Human Rights in the Global Economy" – a lecture by Harold Koh, Professor of Law at Yale Law School and former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the United States, Department of State
- "Who's Qualified" – a lecture by Lani Guinier, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and author of "The Tyranny of Majority: Fundamental Fairness in Representative Democracy" and "Who's Qualified?"
- "Human Rights in South Africa" – Nasila Rembe, Professor at University of Fort Hare in South Africa and the UNESCO Oliver Tambo Chair for Human Rights
- "South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission" – a lecture by Justice Albie Sachs of the Constitutional Court of South Africa
- "Life, Liberty and Poverty: Do We Provide Equal Justice for the Poor in Capital and Other Criminal Cases?" – a lecture by Stephen Bright, Director of the Southern Center for Human Rights
- "When the State Kills: Capital Punishment and the American Condition" – a lecture by Austin Sarat, Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College
- "Reparations for Human Rights Violations" – a lecture by Rhoda Howard-Hassmann from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ohio
- "Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Discrimination Act of 2000" – a lecture by Judge Ralph Zulman of the Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa
The film series included:
- The viewing and discussion of the South African films "Long Night's Journey Into Day" and "A World Apart"; the Argentine film, "The Official Story"; the Italian film, "La Scorta"; the American film, "The Long Walk Home"; the Greek film, "Z"; and the Latin American films "Death and the Maiden" and "Kiss of the Spider Woman."
The symposium entitled "The Global AIDS Crisis: The Intersection of Human Rights, International Markets, and Intellectual Property" was hosted by the Connecticut Journal of International Law.
- It featured presentations by: Cesar Vieira, Coordinator of the Pan American Health Organization Regional Program of Public Policy and Health; Zita Lazzarini, Esq., MPH, Director of the University of Connecticut Health Center's Division of Medical Humanities; Jennifer Joni, Esq., with the AIDS Law Project in South Africa; Joanna Csete, HIV/AIDS Director at Human Rights Watch; Richard Adelstein, Ph.D., from the Department of Economics at Wesleyan University; Kaveh Khoshnood, Ph.D., from Yale School of Epidemiology and Public Health; Daniel Drexler, Esq., from Cantor Colburn, LLP; J. M. Spectar, Ph.D., Director of Rockefeller College at Princeton University; and Laurel E. Baldwin- Ragaven from Trinity College.
The Law School also recently hosted a Military Tribunals Panel and discussion. Captain Brain Baldrate, a criminal prosecutor for the US Army and a recent graduate of the Law School, moderated the televised event. Members of the panel included: Professors Laura Dickinson and Hugh Macgill from the Law School, Major Mike Lacey from the Army Judge Advocate General School, Lieutenant Colonel Denise Lind from the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, and Teresa Younger from the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union.
Student Public Interest Groups
The Law School has a Public Interest Law Group (the Law School's Equal Justice Works chapter) devoted to promoting public interest/public service. This group hosts an annual auction, funds numerous summer grants, and organizes various events highlighting public interest/public service topics throughout the academic year.
The Law School also has an emerging on-line journal, the Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal, whose first issue was published electronically in fall 2001.
The Connecticut Unemployment Action Center (CUAC) is another student group on campus that engages in public service activities. The CUAC represents unemployment insurance claimants in the greater Hartford area.
The Law School also has many other groups that host organized public service, including Amnesty International, the Women Law Students' Association, Phi Alpha Delta and the Student Bar Association.