Directory

Roger Williams University School of Law

Roger Williams University
School of Law
Ten Metacom Avenue
Bristol, RI 02809
law.rwu.edu

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Lisa Quinn, Pro Bono & Experiential Education Coordinator
Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education
Roger Williams University School of Law
Ten Metacom Avenue
Bristol, Rhode Island 02809
lquinn@rwu.edu

401-254-4573 
law.rwu.edu

Eliza Vorenberg, J.D.
Director, Pro Bono and Community Partnerships
Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education
RWU Law
Ten Metacom Avenue
Bristol, Rhode Island 02809
P: (401) 254-4597  
Fax: (401) 254-4540
law.rwu.edu
evorenberg@rwu.edu

Category Type

Pro Bono Graduation Requirement Program

Description of Programs

Fifty hours of uncompensated, law-related pro bono is required for graduation. Students may not receive academic credit for their service.

The Feinstein Center's Director of Pro Bono & Community Partnerships and Associate Director of Pro Bono Programs administer the school's pro bono experiential learning requirement. They create projects for students through developing community partnerships and relationships with the local legal community. Students may select a pro bono project through a list of approved placements or may create their own projects, but all projects must be approved in advance. Some pre-approved projects are group projects at the law school, with a regular training component. Others are at various organizations under the supervision of attorneys or other appropriate staff of the agencies. Students are required to evaluate the experience and complete a journal about their pro bono work, what they learned, and whether or not it influenced the likelihood that they will continue to offer pro bono assistance in the future.

The Center also administers an innovative, pro bono program called the Pro Bono Collaborative (PBC). The Pro Bono Collaborative partners private law firm attorneys and law students with community-based organizations to offer pro bono legal assistance to low-income people and the organizations that serve them. Many students fulfill their pro bono requirement through participation in the PBC.

Location of Programs

The pro bono requirement is administered by the Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education at the School of Law.

Staffing/Management/Oversight

The Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education is staffed by a Director, a Director of Pro Bono & Community Partnerships, an Associate Director of Pro Bono Programs and a Pro Bono & Experiential Learning Coordinator.

The Director of the Feinstein Center directs the Public Interest Clinical Externship Program, and oversees the other Externship Programs which include the Corporate Counsel, Environmental and Land Use, Judicial, New York Pro Bono Scholars, Prosecution & Government, and Washington, DC Semester-in-Practice Clinical Externship Programs.

The Director of Pro Bono & Community Partnerships directs the Pro Bono Collaborative and directs the New York Pro Bono Scholars Program and she and the Associate Director of Pro Bono Programs administer the Pro Bono Collaborative. They also direct the mandatory pro bono program and develop and oversee pro bono opportunities.

The Director of the Feinstein Center, Director of Pro Bono & Community Partnerships and Associate Director of Pro Bono Programs share responsibility for public interest and pro bono programming, counseling students on the various experiential education opportunities available at RWU Law, fellowship and career opportunities, and advising the public interest student groups.

The Center has a Pro Bono & Experiential Learning Coordinator who provides support for all of the Center's work.

Funding

The Center was endowed by a generous grant from the Feinstein Foundation. The annual budget for the Center is approximately $475,000 (including salaries and benefits).

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

The following programs are run through the Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education with the help of RWU law student leaders:

Alternative Spring Break: RWU Law facilitates a robust Alternative Spring Break program, organized by law student leaders, in which students spend their spring break providing legal assistance in conjunction with pro bono and legal services programs all over the country. Each year, between 50-75 students work on a variety of public interest legal projects locally, regionally and nationally. Some recent projects include work on civil rights in Rhode Island, immigration and asylum in South Texas, children’s rights in New York, disability and elder law in Illinois, civil legal services in Michigan, environmental work in Maine, public defense in Florida, and fair housing in Massachusetts.

Street Law: RWU Law students work with local public schools and community based organizations to teach disadvantaged youth about their legal rights and responsibilities. Law students teach law-related lessons in local schools and community organizations.

VITA:  The Internal Revenue Service trains law students to provide tax assistance to low-income individuals and families through East Bay Community Action Program to ensure that they receive the earned income tax credit for which they are qualified. In 2019, the project returned $700,000 to low-income people living in the East Bay. RWU Law has the largest group of VITA volunteers in the state.

PBC’s Adult Correctional Institutions Project:  RWU Law students, under the supervision of the Associate Director of Pro Bono programs and RWU Law alumni volunteers, provide advice and counsel on civil legal issues to inmates in the Adult Correctional Institution (ACI) Medium Security Facility and the Women’s Facility.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

Faculty members are involved in the training and supervision for some of the pro bono projects, including Alternative Spring Break and some of the projects offered through the Pro Bono Collaborative.

The school's faculty handbook states in Section 110, Community Service: "The School of Law also encourages Faculty to engage in activities which improve the administration of justice and the good of society. Such activities include, by way of illustration, pro bono representation of individuals or groups unable to afford legal assistance, service to the judiciary and participation in charitable pursuits." There is some recognition of pro bono service in the retention, promotion, and tenure process, and periodic notifications of faculty community service are circulated to the faculty by the law school administration.

Awards/Recognition

Students who complete 100 hours of uncompensated, law-related pro bono activity that is not for academic credit receive recognition at commencement.

Students who lead larger pro bono projects at RWU Law (Alternative Spring Break, VITA, Street Law, the Adult Correctional Institutions Project) are recognized at commencement.

A Public Service Award is granted to one student who has been exemplary in serving the community and promoting justice for the underrepresented.

A Pro Bono Collaborative Award is granted to a student or students who demonstrate professionalism, collaborative spirit and exemplary commitment to serving the community and promoting justice for the underrepresented through their PBC work.

A Clinical Legal Education Association Outstanding Student Award is granted to a student who has excelled in a clinical course in law school.

Community Service

None listed

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Laurie Barron, Director
Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education
lbarron@rwu.edu
401-254-4653

Eliza Vorenberg, J.D., Director, Pro Bono and Community Partnerships
Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education
evorenberg@rwu.edu
401-254-4597

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

RWU Law requires all students complete fifty hours of uncompensated, law-related pro bono prior to graduation. Students may not receive academic credit for their service.

Public Interest Centers

The Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education - The Center directs a Pro Bono Collaborative, the Clinical Externship Programs, a Mandatory Pro Bono Program, the Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program, and is involved in many community partnerships through our public interest and pro bono programs.  https://law.rwu.edu/academics/feinstein-center-pro-bono-experiential-education

Marine Affairs Institute - RWU Law's Marine Affairs Institute, in partnership with Rhode Island Sea Grant and University of Rhode Island, is a comprehensive clearinghouse for marine law and policy, engaged in preparing the next generation of marine law professionals and convening marine law and policy professional events. As home of the Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program, the Institute engages students as Sea Grant Law Fellows to do research and analysis on marine law issues for constituent organizations. Students can also simultaneously earn a masters' degree in marine affairs from URI through the joint degree program. https://law.rwu.edu/academics/marine-affairs-institute
.

Public Interest Clinics

RWU Law’s clinics in the public interest include:

Criminal Defense Clinic

Immigration Clinic

Veterans Disability Appeals Field Clinic

Externships/Internships

RWU Law’s externships in the public interest include:

Environmental & Land Use Clinical Externship Program

Judicial Clinical Externship Program

New York Pro Bono Scholars Clinical Externship Program

Prosecution & Government Clinical Externship Program

Public Interest Clinical Externship Program

Washington DC Semester in Practice

Students enrolled in a Clinical Externship Program work at a field placement supervised by a practicing attorney or judge 2-5 days per week, and take a weekly 2-hour seminar. Students receive 4-12 pass-fail credits for their work in the field, and 2 graded credits for the seminar. Students may work in one of about 20 pre-approved placements in Rhode Island, Boston, or Southeastern Massachusetts, or may set up their own placement in conjunction with the program director. We also offer a Semester-in-Practice Program through which students may design their own placement anywhere in the country (or outside of the country), with the Program Director's approval, as long as the placement fits within one of our pre-existing externship programs.  https://law.rwu.edu/academics/juris-doctor/clinics-and-externships 

http://law.rwu.edu/feinsteincenter/experiential-learning/clinical-externships

Classes with a Public Service Component

None listed

Public Interest Journals

None listed

PI Career Support Center

RWU Law’s Office of Career Development hosts events and panel discussions throughout the academic year; several programs each semester are dedicated to public interest employment opportunities. 

On campus public interest networking opportunities hosted by the Office of Career Development include:

The Rhode Island State Government Internship Program - Each fall, 1L and 2L students are invited to interview on-campus with the RI State Government Internship Program for both summer and academic-year internships. All students, but particularly 1L students, are strongly encouraged to participate in this program to gain practical experience, explore their interests, and make connections in the legal community.

Exploring Your Options – This event is for attorneys to share information with our students about what it is like to work in different areas of the legal industry. Students go from table to table at allotted times, similar to a speed networking environment. Attorneys offer insight about their particular areas of practice and advice regarding work experiences, course selection and activities students should participate in during law school that would best prepare them for a career in a particular area.

The Office of Career Development also provides support and coordinates student attendance at Public Interest Job Fairs including the Equal Justice Works Job Fair held each October in Washington, D.C., and the New York University School of Law Public Interest Job Fair held each February.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

Thanks to the generosity of Jack and Sara McConnell, the Feinstein Center established the Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program (PILRAP) in 2008. The program is designed to provide support for RWU Law graduates pursuing careers representing low-income clients in non-profit offices. This assistance comes in the form of a forgivable loan. 

PILRAP recipients may receive up to $4,000 per year and a total of $12,000.  As of June 2019, we have awarded over $450,000 to 59 alumni. 

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

The RWU Law Center for Justice Fellowship program employs recent graduates of Roger Williams University School of Law (within the past five years) as staff attorneys for a two-year fellowship period at the RI Center for Justice which works to protect legal rights to ensure justice for vulnerable individuals, families, and communities in Rhode Island.  Fellows are selected based on their interest in social and economic justice, commitment to social change through the tools of the law.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

RWU Law works closely with any student wishing to pursue a post graduate fellowship. Fellowships recently awarded to our students include a Skadden Fellowship and an Immigrant Justice Corps Fellowship.

Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

Public Interest Scholarships are awarded to students who not only show strong academic promise but who also have shown a strong commitment to public interest work and a willingness to enter into public interest law after graduation. These scholarships are awarded at the time of admission.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

RWU Law provides funding for public interest summer stipends. Students find a summer public interest placement and apply through a competitive process for a stipend. Each year, approximately 25-30 stipends of up to $3,000 are awarded. 

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None Listed

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

RWU Law celebrates pro bono every October during the ABA's Pro Bono Celebration Week by recognizing students who have provided pro bono legal service.

RWU Law provides financial support for students to attend the Robert M. Cover Retreat.

Student Public Interest Groups

Student Chapters of State, National, and International Organizations:

  • Student Chapters of State, National, and International Organizations

  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Student Chapter
  • American Constitution Society (ACS)
  • Association for Public Interest Law
  • Criminal Law Society
  • Elder Law Society
  • Employment and Labor Law Society (ELLS)
  • Environmental Law Society
  • Family Law Society (FLS)
  • Federalist Society
  • Health Law Society (HLS)
  • International Law Society
  • Law Student Division of The American Bar Association
  • Maritime Law Society (MLS)
  • Military and Veteran’s Law Association
  • National Lawyers Guild
  • Negotiation and Mediation Association (Society for Alternative Dispute Resolution)
  • Student Animal Legal Defense Fund
  • Student RI Association for Justice (SRIAJ)
  •  
  • Cultural and Common Interest Groups:
  • Alliance (LGBT)
  • Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA)
  • Black Law Students Association
  • Christian Law Student Society
  • Jewish Law Students Association (JLSA)
  • Justinian (Italian-American) Law Society
  • Latino Law Students Association (LLSA)
  • Multi-Cultural Law Students Association (MCLSA)
  • Muslim Law Student Association (MLSA)
  • Older Wiser Law Students Society (OWLS)
  • Women's Law Society

March 5, 2020