North Carolina Central School of Law
Law School Pro Bono Programs
Pro Bono Coordinator
Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program Characterized by a Referral System with Coordinator
Description of Programs
NCCU Law School established the Pro Bono Program in 1996 to promote law student involvement in public interest law and pro bono service. The Pro Bono and Public Interest Program seeks to inspire and recruit students to be the pro bono and public interest attorneys of the future and also to be a source of volunteerism for the North Carolina public interest law community. The program facilitates student placements with public interest organizations across the state; sponsors speakers and events on public interest law topics; and offers public interest career advising, recognition for student pro bono service, and support for student-led pro bono projects. The program also provides support for two ongoing law school-based, student-led pro bono projects, the NCCU Law Innocence and VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Projects, and for new student-led pro bono initiatives, such as the Just Democracy/Election Protection initiative of Fall 2004.
First-year students are encouraged to attend Pro Bono Program events such as panels and speakers during Fall semester and to volunteer on a limited basis during Spring semester. First-year students typically volunteer with the NCCU Law Innocence and VITA Projects and with the Durham County Teen Court program.
A major event initiated in 2005-06 is the Public Interest Organization Fair, at which representatives from public interest organizations have the opportunity to showcase their programs and talk with interested students in an informal setting.
The Pro Bono Program is a resource for students seeking a pro bono opportunity and advising about careers in public interest law. We maintain ongoing relationships with more than twenty legal services and public interest law organizations in the area and across the state and regularly publicize their needs for student volunteers and summer interns via electronic bulletin boards and e-mail alerts. The Pro Bono Coordinator provides individual counseling to students seeking a pro bono opportunity or public interest law summer internship and serves as advisor to the Public Interest Law Student organization (PILO) and the Innocence Project.
Location of Programs
The program is housed in the Clinical Legal Program.
The program is headed by the Pro Bono Coordinator, a full-time lawyer administrator.
The Pro Bono Coordinator's position is funded through a federal grant.
Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects
NCCU Law Innocence Project – This project supports the work of the NC Center on Actual Innocence, a non-profit organization that assists North Carolina inmates with claims of wrongful conviction. The Center receives around 1,000 requests per year from inmates for review of their cases. Innocence Project students volunteer their time to evaluate prisoner claims of innocence and recommend whether further investigation or action should be taken. The Center accepts only those cases in which actual innocence may be proved; prisoner requests for assistance with legal or procedural errors at trial are not considered.
After an initial training, Innocence Project students review and evaluate an inmate's case file and present their recommendations at a case review session attended by project members, the Project's faculty advisers, and legal counsel for the Center. Where the initial review indicates the claim of innocence may have merit, students undertake further investigation, interviewing witnesses, recovering documents, and gathering evidence to establish the innocence claim.
In addition to conducting training sessions, case reviews and investigations, the Innocence Project sponsors speakers throughout the year on topics related to problems in the criminal justice system, investigative techniques, and remedies for wrongful conviction.
NCCU Law VITA Project - VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) volunteers provided free assistance with income tax returns to low-income taxpayers at the Law School every Saturday during from February to mid-April. In 2004-05 eighteen law students volunteered with VITA.
NCCU Law School Street Law – This program which started in 1999 is a partnership with the Durham Public Schools in which law students assist public school teachers in teaching legal topics to middle and high school students. Law students enrolled in the Street Law course teach law-related subjects for 6 to 8 weeks as part of a regular middle or high school social studies class, in cooperation with the regular teacher.
ACLU Chapter– Members of the law student ACLU chapter sponsored a presentation by a representative of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation and joined in canvassing Alamance County on the proposed Death Penalty Moratorium Bill. (February 2005)
Hispanic Law Students Association – HLSA and the Student Bar Association (SBA) took the lead in recruiting volunteers for the Election Protection project, sponsored by the non-partisan, national law student organization Just Democracy. Thirty students attended a training on election law and voters' rights and on election day served as poll monitors or volunteered with a voter assistance hotline (November 2004).
Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono
All students who have participated in pro bono activities during the previous academic year are recognized at a Pro Bono Student appreciation event held during Law Week, a week of special events and competitions held each year in April. Third-year students who have performed 75 or more hours of pro bono while in law school receive a certificate of recognition from the North Carolina Bar Association and are honored at the Law Week awards banquet.
Pro Bono students' names are printed in the Law School's newsletter, The Weekly, and on the school's announcement board, and they are treated to cookies and badges identifying them as "Pro Bono Superstars."
A law school community service project is usually a part of orientation activities. In Fall 2004, law students participated in a Habitat for Humanity home-building project.
Law School Public Interest Programs
Pro Bono Coordinator
Pro Bono and Public Interest Program
Public Interest Centers
Public Interest Clinics
Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic – The ADR Clinic is designed to introduce students to the range of available disputes resolution processes, particularly within North Carolina court-annexed ADR programs, and to teach them how to determine what process may be most appropriate for resolving different kinds of cases. Students will be required to complete a 40-hour training program in Basic Mediation, Arbitration, Collaborative Law, and related subjects. Students must also attend at least five district court sessions as mediators and participate in at least six mediations, attend and observe Drug Treatment Court and district court arbitrations, participate in or observe an elective from a wide range of cases including mediation, mediation-arbitration and arbitration, and keep a journal.
Civil Litigation Clinic (Classroom) – The classroom component of the clinic includes lectures, readings, written assignments and trial simulations. (2 credits) Pre-requisite: Trial Practice.
Civil Litigation Clinic (Field/Summer) – Students participate in the supervised representation of civil litigants under the North Carolina third-year practice rule. Students work in the law school clinic for a minimum of 15 hours per week. Pre-requisites: Trial Practice and Civil Litigation Clinic(Classroom).
Criminal Litigation Clinic (Classroom) – The classroom component of the clinic includes lectures, readings, written assignments and trial simulations. The course focuses on learning the procedure that governs the disposition of criminal cases in North Carolina. The course grade is based on an examination and students' prosecution or defense of a mock criminal trial. Pre-requisites: Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Trial Practice
Criminal Litigation Clinic (Field) – Students participate in the supervised representation of criminal defendants under the North Carolina third-year practice rule. Students work for a minimum of 10 hours per week and earn two credit hours graded on a pass-fail basis. Cases may be referred by the Public Defenders Program or students may be placed in a local prosecutor's office. The students comprise attorney members of a law firm which meets on a weekly basis. Each student is required to be present in the clinic offices to assist in its operation a minimum of two (2) hours per week. Pre-requisites: Trial Practice and Criminal Litigation Clinic (Classroom).
Domestic Violence Clinic – In this clinical component course, students will first complete a classroom-based training program. Students will then provide advice and counsel to victims of domestic violence referred from local programs, shelters and hotlines, on how to obtain immediate legal protection against their aggressors. All students will practice under the supervision of the Domestic Violence Clinical Supervising Attorney. Credit received is dependent upon hours invested by the student in accordance with the formula provided by the ABA Standards. Students eligible under the third-year practice rule have the opportunity to represent clients in obtaining protective orders in the Durham County District Court. Pre-requisite: Domestic Violence: History, Law and Practice.
Family Law Clinic (Classroom) – The Family Law Clinic is a one year program that combines the learning of practical skills, North Carolina family law, pretrial litigation skills, and practical civil procedure with supervised representation of live clients. Students may choose to intern in the clinic or extern with local agencies or family law attorneys. A variety of matters are handled by this clinic, including emergency custody orders, absolute divorces, name changes, separation agreements, competency proceedings, Legal Aid of North Carolina partners with this clinic. Clinic students also conduct "File It Yourself" Custody and Visitation Workshops for the general public every month in Durham and Wake Counties. During these workshops, the supervising attorney gives a brief lecture on the law and interns provide paperwork and instruction for completing the necessary custody action forms. Prerequisites: Family Law (may be taken concurrently) and Trial Practice.
Juvenile Law Clinic – Students participating will represent clients in juvenile detention and long-term suspension administrative hearings. The Clinic will entail a 30-40 hour classroom component consisting of the Juvenile Delinquency Code and Durham Public Schools' Policies and Procedures on long-term suspension as well as 60-70 hours in the field for a total of 100 hours. Prerequisites: Criminal Law, Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure and Trial Practice. (Criminal Procedure and Trial Practice may be taken concurrently with the clinic.)
Pro Bono Clinic – This course allows students to participate in pro bono projects offered through the Pro Bono Program Office or a self-designed, instructor approved pro bono project. Each student is required to work a minimum of 45 hours and to provide either a finished written work product from the project or a final report describing the completed pro bono project.
The Pro Bono Clinic offers students the opportunity for an externship with a number of non-profit public interest organizations and government agencies located in Durham and in nearby Raleigh, the state capital. In 2004-05, students had field placements with the following:
ACLU of NC
Carolina Dispute Settlement Services
Center for Child & Family Health Legal Clinic
Center for Responsible Lending
Child Advocacy Commission of Durham
Governor's Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities
Guardian Ad Litem Program (Durham, Wake, Guilford)
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
NCABL Land Loss Prevention Project
Legal Aid of NC (Durham and Raleigh offices)
NC Fair Housing Center
NC GALA (Gay & Lesbian Attorneys Civil Rights Project)
NC Justice Center – Immigration Legal Assistance Project
NC Prisoner Legal Services
NC Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
Students in the Criminal Litigation Clinic have the opportunity to do an externship with Public Defender's and District Attorney's offices around North Carolina and outside the state. In 2004-05, students had field placements with the following District Attorney's Offices: Raleigh, Pittsboro, Hillsborough, New Bern, Smithfield, Tarboro, Greenville, Goldsboro and Charlotte, NC and Elkhart, Indiana; the Public Defender's office in Carrboro, NC. Students in the Civil Litigation Clinic may also be placed with the NC Attorney General's Office in Raleigh. Students in the Family Law Clinic may be placed with local family law attorneys, with the Attorney Advocate for the Guardian Ad Litem Program, or with the Child Advocacy Commission of Durham.
Classes with a Public Service Component
Street Law – Law students learn how to teach legal topics to middle and high school students. Methods of instruction include lectures, role-playing, guest speakers, and the development of lesson plans. Students are assigned to a Durham Public School location and teach a unit on law as part of a social studies course, in cooperation with the regular teacher.
Public Interest Journals
PI Career Support Center
The Pro Bono Program is a resource for students seeking counsel on careers in public interest law. We maintain ongoing relationships with more than twenty legal services and public interest law organizations in the area and across the state and regularly publicize their needs for student volunteers and summer interns via electronic bulletin boards and e-mail alerts. The Pro Bono Coordinator provides individual counseling to students seeking public interest law summer internships.
Other Career Related Services:
Presentations by a representative from the state loan repayment assistance program, NC LEAF (Legal Education Assistance Foundation) and by a representative from the NC state government summer internship program.
Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)
The state IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts) program funds NC LEAF, the NC Legal Education Assistance Foundation. NC LEAF also receives contributions from the schools. Web address: http://www.ncleaf.org/.
Law School Funded:
Graduate Student Funded:
Other Funding Sources:
Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships
Law School Funded:
Graduate Student Funded
Other Funding Sources:
Law School Funded:
Graduate Student Funded:
Other Funding Sources:
The IOLTA Public Service Summer Stipend supports first and second year students who secure a summer position with a North Carolina public interest law organization or agency that is on the list of approved IOLTA placements (these include legal aid agencies and public defender's offices but not judicial clerkships or other government agencies, including prosecutor's offices). Students must work full-time for at least 10 weeks. The stipends are funded by a grant from the NC State Bar's IOLTA Program.
The NCCU Law Public Interest/Judicial Clerkship Stipend supports first and second year students who secure a summer position as intern for a public interest organization or clerk for a judge. The judge or organization can be of the student's choice and can be located outside North Carolina. Students must work full-time for at least 6 weeks, or part-time for 12 weeks. The stipends are funded by a Federal grant.
Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs
Each semester the Pro Bono Program sponsors several events to highlight pro bono opportunities, public interest law careers, and the needs of under-served people and communities. These events include nationally known speakers; panels featuring local public interest and government attorneys, many of them alumni/ae of the Law School; and information meetings about the Equal Justice Works annual Conference and Career Fair and NC LEAF, the state loan repayment assistance program for public interest attorneys.
The Pro Bono Program sponsors an Orientation and introduction to the Pro Bono Program and lawyers' professional responsibility to help insure equal access to justice.
Equal Justice Works Information/Interest Meeting – Information/interest meeting held in September or early October each year to introduce students to Equal Justice Works and promote the annual conference and career fair
Fall Public Interest Law Panel – Panel discussion with attorneys from various public interest law organizations to familiarize student with their work and opportunities to volunteer, usually held in October.
Spring Public Interest/Public Service Brownbag – Brown-Bag lunch with public interest law and government attorneys, held during Law Week in April.
Innocence Project Major Speaker – Te NCCU Law Innocence Project sponsors a major speaker each semester on a topic related to wrongful conviction and the criminal justice process. Recent speakers: In Fall 2004, former NC death-row inmate Alan Gell, whose conviction of first-degree murder
Student Public Interest Groups
Environmental Law Society
Hispanic Law Students Association
Student Bar Association