University of Maine School of Law
Law School Pro Bono Programs
Director of Career Development
Formal Pro Bono Program Characterized by a Referral System with Coordinator
Description of Programs
Maine Law’s faculty has enacted a voluntary pro bono legal service standard under which every student is strongly encouraged to provide a minimum of 80 hours of pro bono legal service prior to the time of graduation.
The Career Services Office publicizes pro bono opportunities available to students and provides a mechanism for students to report their pro bono hours. Students who meet the voluntary standard of 80 hours of public service are recognized during an annual luncheon and receive special mention at graduation.
Location of Programs
Career Services Office
The program is overseen by the Director of Career Development. Records of student reported pro bono hours are maintained in the Career Services Office.
Funding for special initiatives is provided upon application and request.
Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects
Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono
Maine Law faculty and administrators are active participants in the area of pro bono and public service. They provide direct service to clients, file amicus briefs, serve on rule-making committees, testify before the legislature, and advise policy organizations.
Third year students who have met the 80-hour pro bono legal public service standard are honored at a special pro bono/public service luncheon held during graduation week in the spring. Honorees are presented with a certificate.
The names of those students who have met the 80-hour pro bono standard are listed in a special section of the commencement program, and a notation is added to each of their diplomas.
Maine State Bar Association Pro Bono Student Award - This award is given to a student whose law-related service to the community, without compensation or academic credit, exemplifies the legal profession's tradition of pro bono service.
Rural Legal Aid Program
In 2017, the Law School launched the Rural Lawyer Project in response to the access to justice crisis in Maine. The justice crisis is the shortage of local legal service providers throughout Maine’s numerous rural communities. The Rural Lawyer Project pairs students with rural lawyers who serve as mentors, and provides students with direct exposure to rural practice to inspire them to consider pursuing careers in these communities. It is the result of a collaboration between the Law School and several non-profit partners.
More recently, the Law School is pursuing a new initiative through development of a satellite legal clinic in Aroostook County, which is Maine’s northernmost county. This pilot clinical program will bring students under the supervision of a licensed attorney to this region in order to expand free legal aid access and encourage students to establish legal practices in those areas.
Law School Public Interest Programs
Director of Clinical Programs and Clinical Professor
Environmental and Oceans Law Certificate - The Certificate in Environmental and Oceans Law is designed to prepare students for careers in important fields like environmental law and policy, energy law, global warming and renewable energy, oceans and coastal law, and many other related areas.
Public Interest Centers
Maine Center for Youth Policy and Law – The Maine Center for Youth Policy and Law (MCYPAL) supports Youth Justice Clinic students and faculty in their policy work. Through ongoing coordination of and collaboration with partners and stakeholders, the MCJPAL works to advance efforts to reduce harm to and increase positive outcomes for current and former system-involved Maine youth. In this coordinating role, the MCYPAL provides the platform for the practitioner work group, a core group of youth justice professionals and advocates who work to identify and examine youth justice policies, programs, and practices designed to reduce inappropriate detention and confinement and increase fairness in the youth justice system. https://mainelaw.maine.edu/academics/clinics-and-centers/maine-center-juvenile-policy-law/
Center for Oceans and Coastal Law - The Center for Oceans and Coastal Law is a teaching and interdisciplinary research center devoted to law and policy of the oceans. Center activities embrace a broad range of teaching and research, seeking to enhance the skills of lawyers and policy scientists as applied to oceans problems from the Gulf of Maine to the seas of Europe, Africa, and Asia. The Center focuses its work in several areas, including disadvantaged and landlocked states, the International Maritime Labor Convention, humanitarian law of at sea, maritime boundary disputes, marine microplastics, maritime security and counter-piracy, and the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea. https://mainelaw.maine.edu/academics/clinics-and-centers/center-for-oceans-coastal-law/
Public Interest Clinics
Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic - Established in 1970, the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic was one of the first law school clinical programs in the country. The Clinic provides free legal aid to more than 600 low-income individuals and families every year. It is a defining program of Maine Law, providing practical skills training for students and helping to fulfill the Law School’s commitment to social justice. All legal services are provided by law students who are enrolled in one of four clinical courses: General Practice, Prisoner Assistance, Youth Justice, and Refugee and Human Rights. Students enrolled in each of these courses also participate in the Clinic’s Protection from Abuse program, in which student attorneys assist victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking seeking civil protection orders. Student attorneys represent real clients in real cases. From intake meetings to filing court documents and standing up before a judge, students handle all aspects of client relations and case management under the close supervision of faculty who are leaders in their fields. https://mainelaw.maine.edu/academics/clinics-and-centers/clac/
General Practice Clinic - Each student in the General Practice Clinic maintains a caseload and represents several low-income individuals in various areas of the law. Student attorneys interview and counsel clients, develop case theories, conduct discovery, negotiate with opposing parties, prepare cases for court, and conduct hearings, trials and appeals. Students regularly brief and argue cases before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and participate in hundreds of matters before Maine’s federal, state and probate courts, and administrative agencies.
Student attorneys take on a wide range of case types in the General Practice Clinic, from criminal defense to family law to consumer law. For criminal cases, students might represent clients charged with crimes such as drug trafficking, assault, or theft. Within the realm of family law, students help solve disputes involving parental rights and responsibilities, divorce, guardianship, protective custody, and other matters. For civil matters, students have the opportunity to represent consumers, victims of financial exploitation, or a family trying to keep their home. The legal issues are very real, and they are life-changing for the clients and also for the graduates of our program.
Prisoner Assistance Clinic - The Prisoner Assistance Program, part of Maine Law’s Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, helps inmates at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham in the Men’s, Women’s, and Pre-Release Units. Inside the walls of a prison, our students are able to practice law while still in law school. Third year law students, who have been sworn in as student attorneys, meet with their clients in the prison to assist them with their civil legal matters. The student attorneys manage large caseloads and engage in the same full range of civil legal work as lawyers. The incarcerated are a population often forgotten by society. But we all have rights, responsibilities, and legal needs, whether we are incarcerated or not. Through the vital work of the Prisoner Assistance Clinic, students at Maine Law ensure that the civil justice system remembers those rights and responsibilities. https://mainelaw.maine.edu/academics/clinics-and-centers/clac/prisoner-assistance/
Youth Justice Clinic - The Youth Justice Clinic provides students the opportunity to address the needs of troubled children in a number of diverse settings. Students in the Youth Justice Clinic frequently collaborate with local agencies to assist clients in meeting educational, mental health, and housing needs. With guidance and instruction from a faculty supervisor, student attorneys meet with clients and their families, attend school meetings, file motions, appear in court, and take the lead in developing programs for their clients designed to avoid both incarceration and recidivism. Students also work with other legal aid attorneys at the collaborative ‘Tuesdays at the Teen Center’ project, which involves weekly meetings with homeless teens at the Preble Street Teen Center to provide free legal advice, resource referrals, and an occasional pizza.
The Youth Justice Clinic provides opportunities for some students to pursue broader juvenile justice policy issues. For example, students often work with Maine’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Group and Criminal Law Advisory Committee to research, draft, and edit proposed legislation. Other students may work on ongoing youth advocacy projects in Maine and around the country. https://mainelaw.maine.edu/academics/clinics-and-centers/clac/juvenile-justice/
Refugee and Human Rights Clinic - In the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic, students serve as the attorneys assisting low-income immigrants through a broad range of cases and projects. The course targets a critical gap in access to justice – providing direct legal representation and broader advocacy to immigrants and refugees seeking political asylum and similar protections under federal law, while training future attorneys on how to best serve the legal needs of immigrants. Clients include, for example, asylum applicants who have fled human rights abuses in their home countries and are seeking refuge, immigrant survivors of domestic violence, and abandoned or abused children seeking legal status in the U.S.
Under faculty supervision, student attorneys not only develop their substantive knowledge of immigration law and human rights laws and norms, but they also build core legal skills relevant to the general practice of law. Clinical work for students includes: interviewing clients and witnesses and preparing testimony, working with interpreters and translators, conducting factual and legal investigation and marshaling of evidence, analyzing and presenting human rights documentation, developing case strategies, writing legal briefs, and appearing in administrative hearings. Students also have opportunities to collaborate with local nonprofit organizations and community groups on a range of advocacy projects. https://mainelaw.maine.edu/academics/clinics-and-centers/clac/refugee-and-human-rights/
Protection from Abuse Program - Most students enrolled in Clinic courses also participate in the Protection from Abuse Program, where they represent victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Student attorneys attend at least one or two days of the protection from abuse (PFA) docket calls in Lewiston District Court. The Clinic’s work in this program is highly valued by the courts, as the PFA proceedings are often highly contentious and emotional.
With the assistance of counsel most cases are settled without a trial. If an agreed resolution of the case cannot be reached through negotiation, the student attorney represents the client at trial. Clinic student attorneys work closely with court advocates from Safe Voices, a non-profit organization based in Lewiston-Auburn. This collaboration ensures that every client not only receives legal representation in the protection order case but also receives the necessary support and resources to escape violence in the long-term. Every Clinic student also receives training on the dynamics of domestic violence and on the legal remedies available to victims.
Field placements are available through our Externship program, which gives students the opportunity to gain legal experience in the community and simultaneously receive feedback on their work from seasoned professionals with guidance and support from a faculty member. An externship enables selected second- and third-year students to apply the theories and skills gained in the classroom to a real-life legal setting. Through an externship a student may deepen their knowledge of a particular substantive area already explored in the classroom or broaden their understanding of the practice of law in a setting in which they might not otherwise work. A concurrent seminar taught by the Program Director facilitates the students' integration of the experience and encourages the extern to become a reflective practitioner and self-directed learner.
Students are selected for the program based upon application and earn up to twelve credits for participation. Some externships require prerequisite coursework. Public service placements are available nationally, with many offered locally at organizations such as Pine Tree Legal Assistance (ptla.org), Disability Rights Maine, Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, Legal Services for the Elderly, Maine Attorney General's Office, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Conservation Law Foundation.
Students are encouraged to intern with public interest organizations during the school year and summer. Maine Law works with organizations to promote opportunities to students, including by connecting organizations with students through On Campus Interview programs run twice a year.
Students securing qualifying internship placements are encouraged to apply for funding through the MAPIL Fellowship Program and from other sources. Students completing an internship for which they are not compensated (nor receiving credit through the externship program) may be allowed to count their time worked towards their pro bono hours goal.
Classes with a Public Service Component
Mediation Practicum - The Mediation Practicum provides students with the opportunity to learn and practice mediation skills. In the Mediation Practicum, students learn basic skills of mediating and go to the courthouse to mediate Small Claims cases in Maine District Court (with supervision). In class meetings, students also analyze their mediation experiences and discuss best practices and ethical challenges for mediators.
Guardian Ad Litem - This course will satisfy most of the training requirements to allow students to serve as CASA Guardians or to apply to be a rostered Guardian ad litem in Title 22, Title 18-C and Title 19-A cases upon admission to the bar provided the student is admitted to the bar within 18 months of completing the training.
Public Interest Journals
Ocean and Coastal Law Journal - The Ocean and Coastal Law Journal (OCLJ) is dedicated to facilitating discourse on legal issues related to domestic and international use of the sea and seashores. It is published by second and third year students at the University of Maine School of Law. Volumes include articles by practitioners and scholars, as well as comments and case notes written by students addressing issues of marine resource regulation, coastal zone management, marine environmental protection, and other topics of importance in the field of ocean and coastal law. https://mainelaw.maine.edu/academics/journals/ocean-coastal-law-journal/
PI Career Support Center
Maine Law welcomes the opportunity to help students interested in public interest work realize their career goals and provides a number of resources to assist students. These include guides describing opportunities in different fields, externship and internship hiring programs, and subscriptions to resources like Equal Justice Works and handbooks listing government, public policy, and public affairs positions.
The Career Services Office works to ensure all students are aware of these resources, develops programming to educate students about different career paths, and highlights opportunities and career fairs through targeted emails to students. Maine Law takes an individualized approach to student career assistance: the Director of Career Development meets with students to discuss their particular interests and provides advice on job search strategies, networking, interviewing, and resume and cover letter preparation. The Career Services Office also supports alumni who are interested in pursuing public interest careers after graduation.
Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)
Maine Law offers loan repayment assistance to recent graduates who are pursuing a career in public interest and who satisfy other specific criteria including salary and number of years since graduation.
Law School Funded:
Graduate Student Funded:
Other Funding Sources:
Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships
Law School Funded:
Economic Justice Fellowship - The Economic Justice Fellowship is awarded annually to an incoming first year student at the University of Maine School of Law who demonstrates academic excellence, a commitment to work in the public interest, and a keen interest in economic justice and community development. The Economic Justice Fellow works closely with faculty in curricular and career planning, research, and placement in field opportunities with organizations engaged in affordable housing, community economic development, or development finance. Fellows are granted a stipend for a full-time summer internship with such institutions and may also arrange for part-time placements for credit during the academic year.
Energy and Environmental Law Fellowship - The Energy and Environmental Law Fellowship (E&E Fellow) is awarded annually to an incoming first year student who has demonstrated both academic excellence and a commitment to the pursuit of work in the public interest. The E&E Fellow will be granted a fellowship during their first summer involving energy, environmental and/or land use issues, academic advising by the faculty advisor of the Energy and Environmental Law Society, a 3 credit seat in one of the environmental-related seminars or practicums, as well as invitations to meetings and workshops in these subject areas in the Portland area.
Immigration Law Fellowship - The Immigration Law Fellowship is awarded annually to an incoming first year student who has demonstrated both academic excellence and a commitment to immigration issues. The Immigration Law Fellow will be invited to policy meetings, be assured placement in Maine Law’s Refugee and Human Rights Clinic for a semester in the 2nd or 3rd year of law school, receive academic advising by Clinical Professor Anna Welch who oversees the Refugee & Human Rights Clinic as well as guaranteed independent writing supervision on topics relating to immigration issues by Clinical Professor Welch.
Refugee & Human Rights Fellowship - The Refugee & Human Rights Fellowship is awarded annually to an incoming first year student who has demonstrated both academic excellence and a commitment to Refugee & Human Rights issues. The Refugee & Human Rights Fellow will be invited to policy meetings, be invited to a special reception concurrent with our Justice For Women Lecture Series, be assured placement in the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic for a semester in the 2nd or 3rd year of law school, receive academic advising by Clinical Professor Anna Welch who oversees the Refugee & Human Rights Clinic as well as guaranteed independent writing supervision on topics relating to immigration issues by Clinical Professor Welch.
Susan Calkins Public Interest Fellowship - The Susan Calkins Public Interest Fellowship is named for retired Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Susan Calkins. The Susan Calkins Public Interest Fellowship is awarded annually to an incoming first year student at the University of Maine School of Law who demonstrates both academic excellence and a commitment to the pursuit of work in the public interest. The Calkins Fellow will be granted a summer public interest fellowship during their first summer, academic advising by the Director of the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic (CLAC), invitations to public interest policy meetings, and access to loan repayment funds for qualifying post-graduate employment.
Youth Justice Fellowship - The Youth Justice Fellowship is awarded annually to an incoming first year student at the University of Maine School of Law who demonstrates a high level of commitment to, and interest in, juvenile justice studies and policy. The Fellowship provides you with access to youth justice policy meetings throughout the state under the supervision of Clinical Professor Christopher Northrop who oversees Maine Law’s Youth Justice Clinic.
Graduate Student Funded
Women's Law Association Fellowship - The Women’s Law Association at Maine Law offers a Fellowship to an incoming first year student who has a demonstrated interest in advancing women’s rights and gender inclusivity. The WLA Fellow will be granted a stipend and receive academic advising from Professor Jessica Feinberg whose legal scholarship focuses on gender and sexuality law.
Other Funding Sources:
Law School Funded:
Cushman D. Anthony Fellowship - The Cushman D. Anthony Fellowship gives a student an opportunity to work on child-based policy issues and to develop general practice litigation skills. It is named in honor of Cushman Anthony, Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic’s founder and first director. Students apply during the fall of their second-year. A committee of law faculty selects one Fellow each year, based on a commitment to public service, interest and aptitude in policy work, and a desire to develop trial skills. The Fellow spends time representing plaintiffs in Protection From Abuse proceedings at the Lewiston District Court and juveniles in the capacity of “Lawyer of the Day” in Juvenile Court proceedings at the Biddeford District Court. The other Fellowship hours are designated for policy work, and the Fellow assists Professor Christopher Northrop with ongoing juvenile policy projects. In addition, the Fellow is encouraged to pursue a child focused project of his/her choosing. The Cushman D. Anthony Fellowship is awarded annually by the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic.
James M. Roux Fellowship - The James M. Roux Fellowship was established by Arnie Macdonald and Liza Moore for the benefit of the Summer Intern Program at the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic. During their second year of law school, a Roux Fellow will be selected through a highly competitive process for work as a summer intern at the Clinic. Every year the Roux Fellow will have the opportunity to get invaluable experience representing clients in every phase of litigation. They will assist prisoners with civil issues, youth struggling in their communities and their schools, victims of domestic violence, and many others throughout Maine who likely would not have an advocate for their legal issues without the Clinic.
Roger Putnam Fellowship - The Roger A. Putnam Fellowship gives a student an opportunity to gain experience in important dimensions of lawyering, including: client counseling, ethics, investigation, pre-trial practice, oral and written advocacy, case strategy, negotiation, document drafting, conducting trials, and appellate practice. The Putnam Fellow is selected in his or her second-year of law school through a competitive process and receives a modest stipend for work as a summer intern at the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic. The Clinic provides legal assistance to low-income residents of Maine. Its mission reflects the lifelong work of Roger Putnam, who has delighted in mentoring young lawyers in the art and skill of trial advocacy and who devoted a significant portion of his career to ensuring that all Mainers have access to our system of justice. The Putnam Fellowship is awarded annually by the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic.
Arctic Law Fellowship - In early 2020, augmenting its Ocean and Coastal program, Maine Law launched the innovative Arctic Law Fellowship program. This program provides opportunities for students to study the intersections of law and science coupled with field experiences at an Arctic location, such as Greenland or Norway. Charles H. Norchi, the Benjamin Thompson Professor of Law at Maine Law, supervises the Arctic Law Fellows.
MAPIL Fellowship Program - The Maine Association for Public Interest Law (MAPIL), a student organization, raises funds through a variety of events, including an annual Public Interest Auction. The funds raised, together with funds contributed annually by the law school's Alumni Association and other sources, are used to provide stipends for selected students who engage in public interest work during the summer months through the MAPIL Fellowship Program.
The Bernstein District Court Fellows Program - This fellowship program was established by the law school through a bequest from the estate of a long-time friend of the law school, and provides stipends to selected students who work during the summer as clerks for participating judges of the Maine District Court.
The Horace Libby Fund/Public Utilities Commission Fellowship - This endowed public interest fellowship was established in honor of Horace S. Libby, who served as Chief Counsel to the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for fourteen years. The Fund supports a student summer internship at the PUC.
Legislative Fellowship Program - The Law School's Legislative Fellowship Program provides students with a stipend and an opportunity to serve as summer interns (working in a non-partisan capacity) with the legislative branch of state government. The fellowships are funded by contributions from the law school's Alumni Association and other sources.
Graduate Student Funded:
Other Funding Sources:
Maine Law administers summer public interest fellowships on behalf of the Maine Women's Policy Center (the Linda Smith Dyer Fellowship) and the Cumberland Bar Association (the Cumberland Bar Association Public Interest Fellowship).
Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs
Student Public Interest Groups
Environmental & Energy Law Society - The Energy and Environmental Law Society (EELS) provides law students a forum to discuss, understand, and gain access to the fields of not only environmental and energy law, but also to the Maine lawyers and employers active in these and related fields. Environmental and energy law are remarkably broad and include areas often viewed separately. Such areas include land use, real estate, torts, state and local government, administrative law, food and animal law, climate change, ocean and coastal law, and marine law. EELS, in coordination with E2Tech, organizes fundraising opportunities, educational panel discussions, and community events to promote engagement.
Finch Society - The Finch Society focuses on connecting law students with rural and small town practitioners to provide a place for students to learn more about what rural and small town legal practice is like. The Finch Society’s goals are to encourage law students to pursue careers in rural and small town Maine. Access to legal resources is vital for all Americans and all Mainers, and the Finch Society hopes to increase this access by providing information and resources to students so that they feel confident practicing the law in rural, regional, and small town Maine.
If/When/How - If/When/How trains, networks, and mobilizes law students and legal professionals to work within and beyond the legal system to champion reproductive justice. In collaboration with communities, organizations, and movements, we work to ensure all people–especially those most likely to face reproductive injustice–have the ability to decide if, when, and how to create and sustain a family. The Maine Law chapter is one of over seventy law student chapters of the national If/When/How organization.
Maine Association for Public Interest Law - The Maine Association for Public Interest Law (MAPIL) is a group affiliated with the National Association for Public Interest Law (NAPIL). The group is committed to mobilizing the next generation of lawyers to be committed to equal justice. To achieve this we offer opportunities for pro bono hours and community service opportunities while in law school. MAPIL also engages with surrounding agencies that serve the poorest and most vulnerable populations and hosts an annual auction to raise money for fellowships.
Women's Law Association - The Women's Law Association (WLA) was developed in response to the increased awareness of the impact of the law on women and the impact of the growing number of women attorneys on the law. Through its educational activities, the WLA encourages the development of a network among women at Maine Law; women practitioners in all branches of the legal field; women in the judiciary; and organizations in the state that are concerned with the issues affecting women.