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Oklahoma City University School of Law

Oklahoma City University School of Law
800 N. Harvey
Oklahoma City, OK 73102

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Tia Ebarb Matt
Clinical Professor of Law/Director of Experiential Learning
[email protected]


Category Type

Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program Characterized by a Referral System with Coordinator


Description of Programs

Pro bono service is promoted by and information on opportunities (local and other) is provided through the Professional Career and Development Center. The Professional Career and Development Center, in conjunction with local attorneys and associations, as well as PSLawNet and the Equal Justice Works organization, sponsors training and speakers on pro bono service. OCU LAW is a member of NALP, which now hosts the PSLawNet volunteer opportunity database, and is a member of Equal Justice Works, which holds an annual national pro bono and public interest career fair.

Examples of student placement opportunities include:

Project Re-Entry—Students are involved in researching criminal and civil records during pre-release procedures for inmates. Outstanding warrants or legal obligations are identified and either referred for disposition or negotiated by the students under the supervision of participating attorneys.

Federal Bar Association Research Project—Students research and assist attorneys appointed by federal judges to represent indigent criminal defendants in the civil rights actions in the federal system.

Pro Se Waiver Divorce Docket Courthouse Project—Students attend a weekly court docket for pro se divorce litigants. Litigants are referred by the presiding judge to the students and supervising lawyers for assistance with the litigants' divorce documents. Students draft pleadings, child support and custody documents, and assist in all aspects of the litigation.

Habitat Wills Project—Students interview Habitat for Humanity homeowners, and then under the supervision of a volunteer lawyer or faculty member, draft simple testamentary and trust documents for the homeowners.

Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma—Students assist lawyers in all aspects of legal representation for qualified clients. Students interview clients, draft pleadings, letters, and documents, research legal issues, and attend and participate in discovery procedures and court hearings, particularly victim protective order and forcible entry and detainer dockets.

Oklahoma Lawyers for Children—This organization provides legal representation by volunteer attorneys, along with Oklahoma public defenders, for children who have been removed from their homes due to severe abuse or neglect. Students are trained and then volunteer to interview the children placed in emergency shelters and to provide information to assist the lawyer who will represent the child at a show cause hearing.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance—Students participate in extensive training and then provide information about income tax preparation to members of the community, with the assistance of supervising lawyers.

Domestic Violence Victims Project—Students may accompany a supervising volunteer lawyer to a domestic violence victims' shelter to perform initial legal intake on the shelter resident. Thereafter, the students may assist Legal Aid lawyers in representing the shelter resident in the legal proceedings needed by the residents, including divorce, protective orders, child custody, bankruptcy, and Social Security matters.


Location of Programs

Professional Career and Development Center



The Pro Bono and Public Interest Coordinator along with student organization representatives combine efforts to coordinate various aspects of formal and informal opportunities for students to pursue. The Professional Career and Development Center tracks student volunteer activity and is the repository for disseminating information about pro bono and public interest opportunities. Student participation is non-paid.



Law School operating budget.


Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

Public Interest Law Group-This student organization sponsors informational and fundraising activities for outreach projects in the community, for student attendance at the Equal Justice Works annual career fair, and for summer fellowships for pro bono and public interest law service. The organization also sponsors legal service and outreach projects in the community.


Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

OCU LAW faculty members are not required to perform pro bono activities, but pro bono service is encouraged and considered in promotion and tenure decisions.



OCU recognizes students performing certain benchmark levels of pro bono service at an annual luncheon; students receive certificates and plaques for their hours of service. An alumnus of the school is also recognized for pro bono service and a noteworthy speaker from the region is invited to the luncheon. Students receiving the Dean's Summer Pro Bono and Public Interest Law Fellowships are also recognized at the luncheon,. Along with the supervising attorneys from their Fellowship host placement site. Fellowship recipients are also recognized at an annual law school awards ceremony in the spring. The Public Interest Law Group recognizes a faculty member for pro bono service at the same awards ceremony.


Community Service

Integris Hospital/Oklahoma City Public Schools Mentoring Project—The Public Interest Law Group coordinates this project that pairs law students and faculty and staff with an elementary school student to help with the younger student's academic and social skills and to provide guidance and role modeling to the student.

Habitat for Humanity—Various student organizations, as well as the first-year torts classes, team up to sponsor this community building project.

Various Service Projects—Student organizations sponsor community service projects on a regular basis, including food and clothing drives for local social service organizations, sponsorships and teams for Race for the Cure, AIDS Walk, and Relay for Life.


Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Tia Ebarb Matt
Clinical Professor of Law/Director of Experiential Learning
[email protected]


Certificate/Curriculum Programs


As the relationship between law and public policy becomes more complex and the role of attorneys in government agencies increases, there is a great need for attorneys with both an excellent grounding in the theory of law and political science and a well-rounded exposure to the doctrines of public law in diverse areas such as Environmental Law, Securities Regulation and Federal Criminal Law. The Certificate in Public Law enables students, through a well-planned series of courses, extensive writing, and opportunities to do an externship in the field, to acquire excellent training in public law that will make them attractive not only to government employers, but to any employer who deals with public law issues.


A student shall receive a Certification in Client Representation in Alternative Dispute Resolution upon completion of all requirements for the Juris Doctor degree and successful completion of the following courses:(1) The Law of Alternative Dispute Resolution;(2) Client Representation in Arbitration;(3) Client Representation in Mediation; and(4) Client Representation in Negotiation.


Public Interest Centers

Center on Alternative Dispute Resolution

The Center on Alternative Dispute Resolution provides coherence and structure for the varied activities of OCU School of Law in the areas of negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. The Center assures that all ADR programs operated under its auspices meet the dual obligations of public service and pedagogy. Research is an integral part of the Center's activities, in order to improve continually the quality of service provided to the justice system.

Specifically, the Center focuses on ethics in ADR and identifying the variables that help courts and practitioners to "match the fuss to the forum."

Center for the Study of State Constitutional Law & Government

The Center for the Study of State Constitutional Law and Government was founded to develop and implement programs dedicated to the improvement of state constitutions and state governance. By sponsoring workshops, scholarly writing, and public lectures, the Center promotes scholarship and discussion on important issues relating to state government.

Native American Legal Resource Center

The Native American Legal Resource Center provides capacity building services to tribal communities and creates opportunities for students, faculty, staff and the broader University Community to utilize knowledge and resources to serve the needs of Indian Country in a culturally appropriate and efficient manner for a maximum positive impact.

Within the Oklahoma City University School of Law, the Native American Legal Resource Center is an academic center that encourages scholarship in the area of Indian Law and Policy. The NALRC also provides various services to the Tribal Governments in the State of Oklahoma, as well as Tribal Governments across the United States.

The NALRC has several successful working relationships and projects that serve various needs in Indian Country. Funding for these initiatives comes from grants and sub-contracts awarded to the NALRC for the provision of specific services.


Public Interest Clinics

Immigration Law Clinic—Housed in the offices of Catholic Charities, the clinic teaches basic lawyering skills such as interviewing, counseling, negotiation, and trial advocacy, as well as problem-solving, judgment, communication, and decision-making. Supervised by a clinical instructor, students assist in the representation of clients with a wide range of immigration issues, with political asylum issues a focus of the clinic.

Jodi G. Marquette American Indian Wills Clinic—Students work under the supervision of a licensed attorney and provide wills-drafting services to American Indians who own an interest in Indian land in Oklahoma. These services are provided free of charge, thanks to a generous anonymous donation of $250,000 to further the work of the Native American Legal Resource Center's Wills Services Project, which received its initial funding from the Oklahoma Bar Foundation. The program offers practical experience for students who, under supervision of a licensed attorney, provide needed legal services while receiving instruction and training in client relations, as well as the complex area of American Indian estate planning.

Oklahoma Innocence Clinic—Oklahoma City University School of Law has launched a fundraising and organizational effort to start an innocence clinic at the law school, with students working to identify and rectify convictions of innocent people in Oklahoma. The Clinic's anticipated start date is Fall 2011.



OCU law students have opportunities to serve the community and add to their professional resumes while they are still in school. They serve as legal interns for judges of all state appellate courts, for the federal and bankruptcy courts, and for the county district court through the Judicial Externship Program. Students participate in actual cases in supervised settings through the Litigation Practice Externship Program, where they work in the Oklahoma County District Attorney's Office, the Oklahoma County Public Defender's Office, and Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma. The Government Practice Externship places students at entities such as the Oklahoma Legislature, the Pardon and Parole Board, the Corporation Commission, the Department of Agriculture, and the Oklahoma Municipal Counselor's office. The Native American Externship places students with tribal judges and prosecutors, the United States Attorney's office, and Oklahoma Indian Legal Services.


Classes with a Public Service Component

Several of the Legal Research and Writing classes engage in a public service exercise in connection with a writing assignment. These have included researching and drafting briefs to be used in a brief bank for Legal Aid and assisting in child support and paternity determination court dockets.


Public Interest Journals


PI Career Support Center

The Professional and Career Development Center collects and disseminates information regarding employment opportunities and assists students and graduates with the development of strategies to secure employment. Services provided include resource materials, general counseling and on-campus interviewing opportunities, participation and sponsorship of specialized job fairs, mentor programs, individualized public interest career counseling, and public interest panels or networking events.

The office funds annual memberships to NALP, PSLawNet, and Equal Justice Works.


Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)


Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:


Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:


Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:


Graduate Student Funded


Other Funding Sources:


Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

The Dean's Summer Pro Bono and Public Interest Law Fellowships are annually funded and awarded to students who secure pro bono and public interest law positions that otherwise would not be funded or would receive modest wages. Recent fellows worked at the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma, the Missouri State Public Defender's Trial Division, the Osage County DA's Office, the Roger Mills and Ellis County DA's Office, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Environment, Transportation and Public Works, Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, the Native American Domestic Violence Program, Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, Catholic Charities, the Colorado Springs Public Defender's Office, the Oklahoma County Public Defender's Office, and the New York Legal Assistance Group.

The Professional Career and Development Center coordinates the application process and monitors progress reports of participating students.


Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:

The Public Interest Law Group funds summer fellowships to students who secure pro bono or public interest law positions.


Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs


  • Annual Pro Bono and Public Interest Law Career Fair
  • Periodic speakers on public interest and pro bono issues (school and student sponsored)


Student Public Interest Groups

Public Interest Law Group