Albany Law School
Law School Pro Bono Programs
Nic Rangel, Esq.
Post-Graduate Pro Bono Fellow
P: (518) 445-2304
Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program Characterized by a Referral System with a Coordinator
Description of Programs
The Law School's Pro Bono Program provides a broad range of law related service opportunities to Albany Law School students. Last year over 200 law students participated in the program with community partners including the NYCLU, New York State Attorney General's Office, Legal Aid of Northeastern New York, the Legal Project, the Rural Law Center, and Prisoners' Legal Services. The program has expanded to include several statewide initiatives including work on reentry issues for prisoners and veterans; legal education workshops for rural seniors and youth; and a NYSBA Leadership Program through which students work with taskforces and sections on statewide pro bono initiatives including Elder Law, Environmental Law, and Dispute Resolution.
Students are offered the following trainings through the Pro Bono Program:
Legal Advice vs. Legal Information: Avoiding The Unlicensed Practice of Law
Ethics & Professional Responsibility
Professionalism & Best Practices
The program has a detailed practice manual for both students and supervisors which includes details about the administration of the program and suggestions for supervision and information about confidentiality, conflicts of interest, and unauthorized practice of law. In addition, the Program will offer CLE trainings for community partners on Best Practices for Supervision of Pro Bono Interns.
Location of Programs
Pro Bono Program Office, Department of Student Affairs
The Post-Graduate Pro Bono Fellow develops and implements new pro bono programs, oversees projects, and supervises student volunteers. The Pro Bono Program includes two work-study students.
The Pro Bono Fellow is primarily funded through the Office of Student Affairs, but projects are co-produced by community partners and additional funding is provided by the community.
Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects
Access to Legal Information (LawHelp) Project - Students act as online LawHelp operator specialists by providing "know your rights" materials and referral information about free or low cost legal services for indigent New Yorkers through an instant messaging live chat program.
Albany County Family Court Help Desk - In conjunction with the Albany County Bar Association, students provide assistance to those conducting business with family court. Animal Law Project - This project provides research to a broad range of organizations devoted to animal law, and is involved with the Attorney General's initiative to prevent domestic/ companion animal abuse.
Anti-Human Trafficking Project – Students engage in community grass-roots organizing and outreach to build support for better anti-trafficking legislation as part of the NYS Anti-Trafficking Coalition, assist the Attorney General's office in its efforts to combat trafficking in the capital region, and build community support to end trafficking.
Attorney for the Day – In conjunction with the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern NY students attend landlord/tenant hearings to provide assistance to an attorney by conducting initial client intake interviews.
Child Custody & Kinship Care Project – Under the supervision of the Office of Child and Family Services of Rochester, Kinship Program student research grandparents and relatives rights in relation to child custody and support issues including the rights of incarcerated parents. Students in this program have the opportunity to attend meetings relative to these issues and help draft new policies for various agencies.
Community Education Workshop Project - Students assist National Lawyers Guild attorney-members with "Know Your Rights" workshops and legal information presentations in the community.
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Project – Students work with attorneys to ensure that courts do what is best for the children involved in juvenile, civil and criminal proceedings.
Elder Law Project - Following a full-day training with Rural Legal Center, students educate low income rural seniors throughout the State of New York about issues including Medicaid, Advance Directive Documents, Avoiding Senior Scams, and Estate Planning.
Family & Child Benefits Project - Students assist in various child care benefits efforts, including updating the "Patchwork of Policies" report by Empire Justice Center. This report is used extensively in EJC's lobbying efforts to move the state to creating a uniform statewide child care subsidy system.
Immigration Assistance Project - In conjunction with community partners, including the Empire Justice Center and the Office for New Americans, students will be serving the needs of immigrants who wish to apply for deferred action under DACA, citizenship and other status changes. Students will conduct research, and develop educational material for both practitioners serving clients who may qualify for deferred action, as well as for the community.
The Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) - IRAP organizes law students and attorneys to provide legal representation for Iraqi refugees and their families who cannot otherwise afford it.
Labor Law & Worker's Rights – Under the supervision of an attorney students are developing a presentation and resource brochure around worker's rights and protected concerted activity.
LGBT Rights Project – Students provide legal research and assistance to attorneys, advocacy groups, and legal service providers on matters related to LGBT rights including; free name change clinics for transgender people, free legal assistance on matters of family law, wills, and advanced directives for same-sex couples, drafting police protocols for encounters with the LGBT community, and building support for GENDA.
Matrimonial and Pro Se Divorce Project - Following a four-hour substantive training by the Legal Project - Capital District the Women's Bar Association, students provide legal assistance to low-income individuals seeking to file for pro se divorce. Student assistance is particularly vital in determine the proper grounds for divorce, and writing a convincing application of why those grounds apply. Through participation in this project, the students are exposed to a broad range of topics including: custody/visitation, support and equitable distribution.
NYSBA Leaders Program - Through this program, students work with select Chairs, Sections, and Taskforces of the New York State Bar Association.
Prisoners' Rights Project - Through this project, students provide assistance to Prisoners Legal Services. Projects include research and writing and assisting with administrative hearings including disciplinary hearings. Students may also have the chance to conduct administrative appeals for prisoners who are challenging disciplinary hearings, as well as draft and file Article 78 Petitions.
Prisoner Reentry Project - In collaboration with several organizations, students provide legal education to prisoners on issues that will impact their reentry including how to find housing, employment and seek benefits.
Veterans Legal Assistance Project - provide free legal services to the men and women who have served in our armed forces and now need legal assistance in a variety of areas. In particular, the Project focuses on assisting homeless military veterans in the Albany region.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program - During the tax season, student volunteers provide free income tax assistance to the disadvantaged.
Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono
A number of Albany Law faculty are involved in pro bono work and in many instances work closely with student pro bono interns. The following is a sampling of faculty involvement by interest area:
Professors Ray Brescia and Connie Mayer: Poverty Law
Professor Laurie Shanks: Criminal Defense
Professor Joe Connors, Alexandria Harrington and Alicia Ouellette: Health Law
Professor Mary Lynch and Professor Melissa Breger: Domestic Violence and Family Law
Professor David Pratt and Danschera Cords: Tax Law
Elizabeth Renuart: Consumer Law
Keith Hirokawa: Environmental law
Steven Gottlieb and Vincent Bonventre: Supreme Court Practice and Civil Rights
Professor Paul Finkelman: Native American Indian Law
Professors Donna Young, Paul Finkelman and Christian Sundquist: Race and the Law
Peter Halewood: International Law
Professors Nancy Ota and Stephen Clark: LGBT Law
Professor Pratt: Succession and Probate Law
The Free Private Attorney Student Support (FreePASS) program offers an opportunity for students to provide direct assistance to an attorney by researching law, drafting documents, or writing legal briefs for a portion of the attorney's pro bono case. By completing a portion of an attorney's pro bono case students enable attorneys to take on more pro bono cases, thereby increasing the availability of pro bono legal services in the community.
We host an Annual Recognition Event for Students, Faculty Advisors, and Community Partners who do exemplary pro bono work. We also participate in Pro Bono Week/ Month with a series of concerted efforts on and off campus to expose students to the importance of pro bono work.
In addition to law related opportunities, we have a range of community service projects. For example, students have worked with Habitat for Humanity, participate in the Susan G Komen Foundation Race for The Cure, and collect considerable donations for various local non-profits. Hackett Middle School Tutoring Program: Law students work with school teachers at the local junior high school. Members of the administrative staff, non-clinical faculty, and other students serve as supervisors.
Albany School District Mentoring Program: Law students mentor children attending public schools in the City of Albany under the supervision of the program administrators.
Law School Public Interest Programs
Susan J. Feathers, Esq.
P: (518) 445-3376
ALS Students can focus their field of study on particular areas of interest including: Civil and Constitutional Rights, Civil Litigation, Criminal Law, Environmental Law, Family and Elder Law, and Governmental Administration and Regulation. The concentrations include required courses, elective courses, field placements, moot court competitions and clinical projects.
Public Interest Centers
The Government Law Center (GLC) - introduces students to methods of policy analysis and to public service. In operation for a quarter of a century, the GLC's programs and publications educate law and policy makers on the growing number of societal challenges they must address. Students are encouraged to participate in all GLC activities, including law-related employment and internship opportunities, and to initiate and develop new and exciting projects. The GLC sponsors programs on a wide range of topics, as well as public service career seminars, a community educational event for seniors, and exclusive opportunities to meet prominent government leaders.
Public Interest Clinics
Clinical Legal Studies Program - Albany Law School's Clinical Legal Studies Program includes six specialty law projects: Domestic Violence, Litigation, Health Law, Civil Rights & Disabilities, Low Income Taxpayer and Securities Arbitration that combine classroom education with hands-on legal experience while providing a free public service to the abused, discriminated against and disadvantaged in the community. Legal presentation by law students under supervision by faculty attorneys is provided to the victims of domestic violence, disabled children denied access to appropriate health care or education, HIV/AIDS infected parents planning for their children's future, the unemployed and low income taxpayers. Albany Law School's Clinical Program consists of in-house projects, field placement programs, and one-hour practicum courses. A combined maximum of 12 credit hours may be selected from Clinical courses
Albany Law School offers the following field placement programs:
- Government Program - This field placement program, a joint initiative of the Clinical Legal Studies Program and the Government Law Center, is available in the spring semester. Students spend time in the office of counsel to one of New York's state agencies, executive departments, or in the NYS legislature. Depending on the particular placement selected, students may assist in drafting legislative initiatives, legal research and writing projects, policy analysis, bill negotiations, and/or litigation. A course in government ethics is required.
- Semester in Government Program- Students spend time working in the office of counsel to a federal government agency in Washington DC, performing the legal work of a judicial, governmental, or public interest office under the direct supervision of experienced attorneys. A course on government ethics also is required.
- Semester in Practice - Second and third year students will be afforded a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in exceptional judicial, governmental, and public interest offices for an intense semester long placement experience. Under the direct supervision of highly experiences mentor attorneys, students will spend time participating and conducting the legal work of their chosen office including, depending on the placement, witness interviewing, trial preparation, legal research and writing, drafting opinions, fact investigation, taking depositions, and the conducting of full trials or hearings.
Classes with a Public Service Component
Mediation Assistance Program - Mediation Assistance Program provides 25 hours of training equivalent to the NYS Unified Court System training program for community mediators. It prepares students to serve as court-affiliated mediators and to counsel clients more effectively.
Public Interest Journals
The Government Law & Policy Journal is a scholarly, yet dynamic, periodical covering issues of importance to attorneys working in government and for non-profit organizations. It is published twice yearly by the NY State Bar Assn Committee on Attorneys in Public Service and is produced by ALS's Government Law Center. Several students serve on the Journal's editorial board under the direction of ALS professor and editor-in-chief Vincent Bonventre.
PI Career Support Center
There is dedicated public interest career support staff.
Career support assistance includes the following:
The annual Public Interest Legal Career Fair provides Albany Law School students and alumni with an opportunity to learn about legal careers in public interest and government through career panel discussions and information tables. Past career fairs have included representatives from more than 150 public sector organizations and interviews for summer and entry-level positions.
Public Interest/Public Service Jobs Forum - This Career Center program developed exclusively for Albany Law School students is a "how-to" on developing a lifelong commitment to working on behalf of under-represented individuals, communities and causes.
Annual Career Center panel entitled "Fellowships, Internships, and more. (How to Launch a Public Interest Career)" gives students an opportunity to explore and learn about the resources available to help advance a public law career directly from an Equal Justice Works representative.
Annual program co-sponsored by the Career Center and the Government Law Center of Albany Law School on "Finding the Perfect Job in State/Local Government-Practical Strategies and 'Nuts and Bolts' Advice" helps students explore different career options, and make contacts with alumni working in the public sector.
Albany Law School's Career Center sponsors a series of Career Education Programs including public service related topics such as: "Careers in State Legislative," "New York State Civil Service Opportunities," "Judicial Clerkships," and Employer Information Sessions featuring, for example, the U.S. Attorney's Office, and state agencies.
For more information, visit www.albanylaw.edu/careers.
Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)
Albany Law School has always been committed to making rewarding public interest careers move viable to its graduates. To further this commitment, the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) was launched in December 2004. This program is designed to help alleviate the financial burden of educational loan repayment upon students who wish to pursue careers in public interest law, as well as city, county and state attorney's offices, and agencies operated by a city, county or state.
Law School Funded:
Graduate Student Funded:
Other Funding Sources:
Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships
Law School Funded:
Graduate Student Funded:
Other Funding Sources:
The Margaret and Edgar Sandman Fellowship Program
Established in 1992 by Morris Silverman, class of 36, and the children of Edgar and Margaret Sandman, up to two second-year students are selected each year to participate in this initiative. Fellows immerse themselves in a topic of law, host a roundtable discussion with key policy makers and advocates involved with the issue, and publish a report which is disseminated nationwide.
Law School Funded:
Honorable Con G. Cholakis Fellowship - Albany Law School has established The Con G. Cholakis Public Service Fellowship as an endowed fund to provide underwriting support for law students working in public offices during the summer months. By establishing this fellowship, the law school recognizes that frequently there are no funds to compensate law students for their important efforts in the public interest and, given today's costs of a legal education; many are forced to turn away from the beneficial experience afforded by such service. As Chalices Fellows, Albany Law School students will have the opportunity to assist in providing crucial legal services to the public and in so doing will encourage those students to pursue public service careers. The fellowship recipient will demonstrate compassion and commitment to public service through prior public service, volunteer work, or other indicia of such commitment, be in academic good standing, and provide evidence of the recipient's independence, individualism, integrity and other strengths of character.
Summer Public Interest Stipend Program - For several years Albany Law School has offered a stipend program to encourage students to pursue public interest and public service opportunities. Each summer, the program provides modest stipends to approximately 50 Albany Law School students who intend to work for public interest and public service organizations during the summer months. The awards range from $700 to $1,000.To be considered for awards, student applicants must be planning to: (1) perform legal work for a federal, state, or local government agency; or (2) provide legal services (criminal or civil) through a not-for-profit tax-exempt organization qualified under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Applicants must demonstrate that they will work a minimum of 200 hours at their qualified organizations during the summer months. Moreover, student applicants must be uncompensated or receive reduced compensation. The Summer Public Interest Stipend Program is funded, in part, through the Dean's Public Interest Auction, an annual event made possible through donations by members of the ALS community and local businesses.
Graduate Student Funded:
Joseph C. Foiadelli Public Service Stipend - The families and friends of Joseph C. Foiadell, Esq. established a stipend in his honor in 2000. Joe was a member of Albany Law School's Class of 1997 who tragically lost his life in a car accident on November 28, 1998. Joe was a gifted student with a unique ability to befriend anyone, whatever the circumstance. He worked tirelessly in the AIDS Clinic going the extra mile for each and every client he represented. He was devoted to the public service aspect of the legal profession and was working as an Assistant Public Defender for Columbia County, New York at the time of his death. To honor Joe for his outstanding character and for his extraordinary devotion to the practice of law, a $1,500 stipend is offered to a law student who will be working in public legal service during the summer. The fellowship recipient must be in good academic standing and have any interest in and commitment to public interest service.
Other Funding Sources:
The Dan Dwyer Law Fellowship Program
Established in 2001, this fellowship program provides a stipend to a law student to work as an intern in the Albany County District Attorney's Office. The intern assists in the prosecution of DWI cases. The fellowship recipient must be in good academic standing, have a demonstrated interest in criminal law, and have a demonstrated interest in pursuing a public interest career.
Edward Cameron Jr. Public Service Fellowship
The Lyric Foundation has established this $1,000 fellowship to be awarded to a first or second year law student who will service as an intern with a legal public service provider over the summer. The fellowship recipient must be in good academic standing with a demonstrated interest in pursuing a career in public service.
The Marty Silverman Internship Program at the New York Legal Assistance Group
The New York Legal Assistance Group has established this fellowship in honor of Marty Silverman. This $3,500 fellowship funds a summer intern to obtain experience working with NYLAG's various public interest projects such as the Elder Law Project, The HIV Project, the Holocaust Compensation Assistance Project and the Child Advocacy Project. The Fellowship recipient must be in good academic standing and have a demonstrated interest in public service work.
Joseph C. Foiadelli Public Service Stipend
The families and friends of Joseph C. Foiadell, Esq. established a stipend in his honor in 2000. Joe was a member of Albany Law School's Class of 1997 who tragically lost his life in a car accident on November 28, 1998. Joe was a gifted student with a unique ability to befriend anyone, whatever the circumstance. He worked tirelessly in the AIDS Clinic going the extra mile for each and every client he represented. He was devoted to the public service aspect of the legal profession and was working as an Assistant Public Defender for Columbia County, New York at the time of his death. To honor Joe for his outstanding character and for his extraordinary devotion to the practice of law, a $1,500 stipend is offered to a law student who will be working in public legal service during the summer. The fellowship recipient must be in good academic standing and have any interest in and commitment to public interest service.
Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs
Speaker series - Established by ALS professor Tim Lytton in 2001, this town hall style program promotes the exchange of ideas between ALS Student, faculty, and staff, and the greater community. The free series features notable speakers who examine topics of great significance locally, in the country, and around the world, often focusing on public interest topics, such as the inaugural program on "Searching for Justice on Death Row: Administration of the Death Penalty."
Student Public Interest Groups
- Women's Law Caucus (WLC)
- National Lawyers Guild
- Public Interest Law Society
- Environmental Law Society
- Health Law Society
Updated: August 6, 2018