University of Illinois College of Law
Law School Pro Bono Programs
Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program Characterized by Administrative Support for In-house and Collaborative Student Group Projects
Description of Programs
Pro bono service is encouraged through the offering of a pro bono notation which appears on the graduate's transcript, is noted in the graduation program, and appears in a letter to the student on behalf of the College of Law acknowledging their service. Service qualifying for the notation must be legal in nature, since it is designed to recognize the special needs of the community for legal services and the unique ability of law students and lawyers to provide those services. It must also be done on a pro bono basis. The College of Law has accepted the ABA Model Rule of Professional Responsibility 6.1 list of four categories of work that qualify as pro bono.
The promotion and facilitation of pro bono and public service opportunities is diverse and integrated into the College's daily activities. Depending upon the nature of the pro bono item, promotion of the activity could occur by the following and other methods: Academic Advising and Course Counseling Handbook, Clinic Office, Curricular Dissemination, Daily Docket, Dedicated Bulletin Boards, eAttorney, E- mail listserv, Handouts, Individual Communications (electronic, verbal, or written), Internet and Intranet Web Pages, Law Bulletin, Mail Boxes, Promotional Tables in the Pedersen Pavilion, and in the Public Interest Center.
One avenue of facilitation for community involvement is the Volunteer Fair which features representative from many community groups.
Location of Programs
Office of Student Affairs and Office of Career Services
The pro bono notation program is supervised and directed by the Associate Dean and the Assistant Deans for Student Affairs and Career Services. They are not compensated separately for this activity.
Administrative support is provided for every aspect of the pro bono activities at the College of Law. The nature of the support is dependent upon the requirements of each function. The student organizations are provided with supplies, funding, secretarial assistance, mailing, administrative guidance, and many other forms of assistance. Upon request, any pro bono activity is provided with a wide variety of other administrative assistance and support.
The College of Law faculty are provided with a professional expense allowance which can be used to satisfy their service obligations, which may involve pro bono service.
Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects
Prisoners' Rights Research Project - Indigent prisoners incarcerated across the country write to the Project requesting answers to specific legal problems. Working under a student supervisor and faculty adviser, volunteers hone their research skills and gain significant insight into our corrections system by answering these complex questions.
The Society for Legal Assistance to Abused Women -- This is a community service based organization established to provide legal support for people in abusive relationships.
Welfare Rights Clinic -- Clinic volunteers represent public aid applicants and recipients having disputes with the Illinois Department of Public Aid. The clinic maintains an office staffed by student volunteers who provide advice to people about public aid generally. Volunteers interview clients, research the law, gather evidence, and negotiate with caseworkers.
Process: Requests for new pro bono organizations and projects are considered by the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, who in conjunction with the Student Bar Association, will assess the feasibility of the proposal and will assist in the creation of the program or project.
Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono
There is no formal faculty policy requiring specific types of pro bono endeavors; however, the faculty are advised of the College's expectations that they become engaged in service activities within the community which can include pro bono legal services.
Each student organization has a faculty advisor.
The College of Law offers an optional pro bono notation on its transcripts for students who perform 60 hours of pro bono service during their three years of law school. The notation will appear on the official and unofficial transcripts of qualified students. It will also appear on the report card for the semester in which the Pro Bono Notation is earned and in the graduation program. In addition, students receive a letter acknowledging their service.
The Rickert Award, one of several awards established in memory of Joseph W. Rickert, a distinguished local lawyer, recognizes annually the achievements of third year students who have demonstrated an outstanding degree of commitment to work in the public interest. Up to four awards may be made each year. Rickert Award winners are honored at a dinner, identified in the graduation program, and given monetary and commemorative recognition of their achievement.
Students participate in a wide variety of community service in the Champaign-Urbana area on both individual and organizational levels. Law students tutor at local schools, assist in preparing tax returns for low-income people, give time at a battered women's shelter, and coordinate an Angel Tree during the holiday season for the benefit of children whose parent(s) are incarcerated.
Law School Public Interest Programs
Donna L. Miller
Director of Career Services
P: (217) 333-6345
While there is no specific public interest curriculum or certificate program, the College of Law offers a variety of courses that focus on legal areas and skills of use and interest to the public interest minded student. In addition, there are many individual courses on issues applicable to public interest practice. The College of Law also recommends providing at least 60 hours of pro bono service during three years of law school.
Public Interest Centers
Public Interest Clinics
The Civil Clinic
This Clinic offers students the opportunity to represent clients under the supervision of law professors in a model law office setting in numerous areas, including litigation, transactional, and international human rights matters. In addition to representing clients, students participate in the related seminar, which meets weekly.
The Appellate Defender Clinic
This Clinic involves attorneys from the Fourth District Office of the State Appellate Defender, who supervise law students preparing criminal appeals for clients of the office. Each student receives a transcript in a felony jury trial and will be primarily responsible for preparing an appellate brief in the case. Students who qualify for licenses under Supreme Court Rule 711 generally wil be able to argue their cases orally before the Illinois Appellate Court for the Fourth Judicial Circuit if oral argument is granted in that case.
This clinic provides students with the opportunity to work on projects with the Illinois State Legislature. Students in this class spend a number of hours in Springfield, Illinois, working with legislative workshops.
Clinical Externships offer students the opportunity to receive law credit for uncompensated work for a non profit organization, government agency, or judicial experience. In addition to meeting houly work requirements with the sponsoring agency, the students must also submit periodic reports, a skills analysis and a final evaluation of the experience. The work must be legal in nature and conducted under the supervision of an attorney.
South African Human Rights Commission Internship
Under the supervision of a dedicated faculty member, student at the College of Law may participate in an intership with the South African Human Rights Commission. This internship, funded by the College, allows the students to participate actively in the Commission and to be assigned cases of their own. In the past, assignments have also included investigations into the actions of the Department of Justice.
Classes with a Public Service Component
The Civil Clinics offer students the opportunity to represent clients under the supervision of law professors in a model law office setting in numerous areas including litigation, transactional, and international human rights matters. In addition to representing clients, students participate in the related seminar which meets weekly.
The Appellate Defender Clinic has attorneys from the Fourth District Office of the State Appellate Defender supervise law students preparing criminal appeals for clients of the office. Each student receives a transcript from a felony jury trial and is primarily responsible for preparing the appellate brief in the case. Students who qualify for licenses under Supreme Court Rule 711 generally will be able to argue their cases orally before the Illinois Appellate Court for the Fourth Judicial Circuit if oral argument is granted in that case.
Clinical Externships offer students the opportunity to receive law credit for pro bono work for a nonprofit organization, government agency, or judicial experience. In addition to meeting hourly work requirements with the sponsoring agency, the students must also submit periodic reports, a skills analysis and a final evaluation of the experience. The work must be legal in nature and conducted under the supervision of an attorney. Legislative Projects allows students to work on projects with the Illinois State Legislature. Students in this class spend a number of hours in Springfield, Illinois, working with legislative leadership. Internship/Independent Study opportunities with the South African Human Rights Commission, which are funded by the College, allow the students to participate actively in work of the Commission, under the supervision of a dedicated faculty member. Law of Professional Responsibility includes a pro bono element as a way of reinforcing the ABA commitment toward pro bono efforts. In the course of this class, students can receive extra credit for strictly volunteer community service. Students present a proposal, provide the service, and complete a written report detailing their experience and what they learned from the pro bono service.
Children and the Law also includes a pro bono component. Students are encouraged to serve as judges in the Vermilion County Juvenile Peer Court. This Court is where children are tried and sentenced for misdemeanor and other minor offenses by a jury of their peers (other minors). Trained minors also serve as the attorneys. The court personnel use local lawyers and law students as the judges. The adjudications and sentences are real.
Public Interest Journals
The Elder Law Journal
The Journal is an academic publication published twice annually by the students of the University of Illinois College of Law. The Elder Law Journal is the only scholarly publication addressing elder law issues in the country. The Journal publishes manuscripts that not only address policy decisions, but also serve as guides to attorneys practicing in the field. The members of The Elder Law Journal are also quite active in bringing leading experts to the College of Law to address significant topics in this area.
The Comparative Labor Law Journal
The Journal was founded in 1976 to provide a venue for the very best scholarship in the comparative analysis of labor law, employment policy, and social security issues. In 1997, the Journal moved to the University of Illinois where it was renamed Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal and its Editorial Advisory Board broadened better to reflect its mission.
With an extensive world-wide circulation, the Journal has become a major international forum for research, theoretical and applied, in an area of growing importance to the developed and in the developing world.
Prisoners' Rights Research Project
Indigent prisoners incarcerated across the country write to the Project requesting answers to specific legal problems. Working under a student supervisor and faculty advisor, volunteers hone their research skills and gain significant insight into our corrections system by answering these complex questions.
Illinois Law & Economics Papers
Faculty members at the College of Law have published their recent scholarly papers online through the Legal Scholarship Network of the Social Science Research Network. Many of the submissions by the faculty include cutting edge analysis of topics of critical public interest value.
The Bushong Student Award The Award is a writing competition wherein College of Law students will compete for the scholarship based on a written article or other paper dedicated to presenting topics relating to gay and lesbian legal rights issues.
Other well respected publications at the College of Law, including the University of Illinois Law Review, generally regarded as one of the preeminent law reviews in the country, and the Illinois Law Update, frequently address emerging issues and critical analysis of laws relevant to the field of public interest.
PI Career Support Center
The Office of Career Services is dedicated to assisting students in their pursuits of public interest opportunities. Whether the student is genuinely committed, generally interested, or even just curious, the Office is available to assist in providing information, tools, and options for consideration and use by students and alumni. Some of the primary resources include:
- On-Line Job Posting Board
Career Services solicits and receives information regarding part-time, summer, or full-time positions. These job openings are listed on the on-line Job Posting Board system. Jobs on the Job Posting Board can be sorted by type, including public interest and government positions.
- Public Interest Employer Files
In the Public Interest section of the Career Services Resource Center, there is a system of file cabinets containing information about organizations and offices offering Summer internships or employment upon graduation. These files are not a complete listing of all public interest or government employers, but include organizations that typically hire law students or look for graduating law students. The files are an excellent resource on programs and projects offered by various employers. Students will find contact information and application instructions in many of the files. This information is now being compiled into a database cross-referenced by employer and topic.
- Programs, Panels, and Workshops
Throughout the year, Career Services hosts a wide array of programs on public interest practice and navigating the public interest job search process. Speakers often are practitioners and other experts involved in the public sector. These programs provide students with opportunities to learn about the legal profession, network, and enhance their employability. The public interest schedule culminates with Public Interest Month, a series of programs emphasizing the diversity of public interest law.
Past Public Interest Months programs have included topics such as pro bono work in the legal field, legal aid and clinics, environmental law, criminal justice, government practice, and summer internship panels.
- Career Fairs and Conferences
Career fairs and conferences provide opportunities to learn about legal fields, network with employers, and sometimes interview for jobs. There are an endless number of public interest career fairs and conferences that occur each year. A few examples of career fairs that College of Law students are invited to include:
- University of Illinois College of Law Alumni-Student Career Conference
At this annual event, approximately fifty alumni come to campus to discuss a wide variety of career issues including public interest related opportunities. Usually held in late January, this event provides students with excellent opportunities for networking and advice.
- Equal Justice Works Public Interest Career Fair
Each year in the Fall EJW hosts an annual public interest law conference, career fair, and awards dinner to broaden, support, and recognize the efforts and participation of public interest minded law students, lawyers, and advocates. Students are given the opportunity to interview with employers and to chat formally with practitioners representing a variety of interests.
- Midwest Public Interest Law Career Conference
This career fair, typically conducted during the Winter months, brings together law students and public sector employers. Opportunities for formal interviews and "table talk" are available. This program has been described as the way to get a public interest job in the Midwest.
The Book Room located in the Career Services office contains an extensive library of books related to public interest law and finding public interest employment. New books are often being added and can be checked out. Career Services also makes available a Public Interest Handbook, which provides students with an introductory basis from which they can then personalize their individual public interest career path. This handbook includes an introduction into public interest law, general job search resources, web based job resources, information on fellowships, funding, academic credit, and tips for locating and securing public interest employment.
- Career Counseling
The Assistant Dean for Career Services, Director for Career Services, and Public Interest Coordinator are available by appointment to discuss any career planning and employment concerns relating to public interest. Students can obtain assistance in the areas of resume and cover letter writing, interview techniques, job search strategies, and career alternatives.
Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)
The establishment of a loan repayment assistance program (LRAP) is currently under investigation at the College of Law as a way to help alleviate the debt burdens of its graduates pursuing careers in public interest or public service work. The College of Law LRAP Exploratory Committee has called for the implementation of a loan repayment assistance program to ensure that every student who wishes to enter public service may do so, without being hindered by educational finances.
Law School Funded:
Graduate Student Funded:
Other Funding Sources:
Students have applied for a number of outside-funded fellowships, including the Skadden Fellowship, Fulbright Grant and George N. Lindsay Civil Rights Legal Fellowship by the Lawyers' Committee of Civil Rights Under Law.
Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships
Law School Funded:
Graduate Student Funded:
Other Funding Sources:
The Bushong student award, a memorial fund created by Larry Travis Bushong, a 1983 College of Law graduate, and friends, is a writing competition wherein College of Law students will compete for a scholarship based on a written article or other paper dedicated to presenting topics relating to gay and lesbian legal rights issues.
Law School Funded:
Graduate Student Funded:
The Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) is a student-managed organization dedicated to bringing public interest law careers to the attention of law students. Each year PILF raises money to provide grants to University of Illinois students undertaking public interest work over the Summer. In the past, students have been funded to work at a number of places including NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Legal Clinic for the Disabled, Midwest Center for Justice, Land of Lincoln Legal Services, Sacramento Child Advocates, Employment Law Center, President's Interagency Council on Women, Office of the Public Guardian, and U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The size of the grant awarded to each student varies.
Other Funding Sources:
Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs
Numerous public interest programs are available throughout the year. The following lists some primary examples:
Nationally Renowned Speakers
The College of Law and many student groups bring in nationally known speakers to discuss issues of importance to public interest. For example, each Fall and Spring semester, the College of Law presents the David C. Baum Memorial Lecture Series on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights. In spring 2002, the distinguished lecturer was Pamela S. Karlan, the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law at Stanford Law School.
Public Interest Programming
The Office of Career Services provides career-related public interest programming throughout the year, with November and February traditionally reserved for focusing on public interest information. In fall 2001, speakers from various public interest and public service employers came and spoke at the College of Law about their careers and employers, including persons from the Champaign County State's Attorney, the Office of the State Appellate Defender, and the Illinois Legislative Research Unit. In February 2002, Public Interest Law Month Programming was presented on four consecutive weeks. The programs included presentations concerning how law students can learn about, apply for, and fund summer internships dedicated to public interest law, advocacy and non profit organizations, and legal aid and legal clinics; careers in public interest from the perspective of practitioners in advocacy and non-profit organizations; and first-hand advice from students who have participated in public interest positions.
Public Interest Law Foundation
PILF is dedicated to bringing public interest law careers to the attention of law students. It raises money for a grant program that allows students to undertake public interest work over the summer. PILF also finances student participation in public interest career fairs throughout the country and facilitates information networking among students interested in working in public interest.
Prisoners' Rights Research Project
Indigent prisoners incarcerated across the country write to the Project requesting answers to specific legal problems. Working under a student supervisor and faculty advisor, volunteers hone their research skills and gain significant insight into the corrections system by answering these complex questions.
Members of the College of Law participate in a wide variety of community service in the Champaign-Urbana area on both individual and organizational levels. For example, law students tutor at local schools, assist in preparing tax returns for low-income persons, give time at a battered women's shelter, and coordinate an Angel Tree during the holiday season for the benefit of children whose parent(s) are incarcerated. One avenue of facilitation for community involvement is the Volunteer Fair, which featured representatives of the following groups in 2002: Red Cross; Big Brothers, Big Sisters; Champaign Park District; Urbana Park District; A Woman's Place; Generations of Hope; YWCA; Adult Daycare Center; Children's Home and Aid Society of Illinois; and Carle Hospice Care.
Student Public Interest Groups
The dynamics of the student body allow the College of Law to present a wide diversity of public interest groups which vary on an annual basis in light of student interest and demands. In addition to the following organizations which are annually made available to the student body, the College also entertains proposals for new groups previously not available or on new and emerging issues.
- American Civil Liberties Union-College of Law Chapter
- American Constitution Society for Law & Public Policy
- Disability Law Society
- Environmental Law Society
- Health Law Society
- Loan Repayment Assistance Program Exploratory Committee
- Prisoners' Right Research Project
- Public Interest Law Foundation
- Public Service Task Force
- Sexual Orientation & Legal Issues Society
- Society for Legal Assistance to Abused Women
August 6, 2018