Directory

Rutgers The State University of New Jersey School of Law, Camden

Rutgers
The State University of New Jersey School of Law, Camden
217 North Fifth Street
Camden, NJ 08102
www.camlaw.rutgers.edu

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Eve Biskind Klothen
Assistant Dean for Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs
E-mail
P: (856) 225-6608

Pam Mertsock-Wolfe
Pro Bono Coordinator
E-mail
P: (856) 225-6406

Category Type

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

Description of Programs

The Rutgers - Camden Law School Pro Bono Program currently consists of eleven projects, including the Bankruptcy Pro Bono Project, the Domestic Violence Pro Bono Project, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Project, the Pro Bono Research Project, the Children's SSI Project, the Financial Literacy Project, the Defender Project, the Street Law Project, Election Protection, the Immigration Project, and the Pro Bono Mediation Project. All include training and supervision. In addition, many opportunities are available to do pro bono work in local public interest programs, in Camden and in greater Philadelphia.

Staffing the Pro Bono Program are Assistant Dean Eve Biskind Klothen, 225- 6608, E-mail, and Pro Bono Coordinator, Pamela Mertsock-Wolfe, 225-6406, E-mail.

Promotion and facilitation of opportunities occurs through brochures, articles, mention at Admitted Student Day, presentations at First Year and Transfer Orientations, a session in the Professional Responsibility class, a prominent place on the website, and a panel discussion by local attorneys about how to fit pro bono into private practice.

Location of Programs

Stand-alone

Staffing/Management/Oversight

The Law School's Assistant Dean for Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs and the Pro Bono Coordinator oversee existing pro bono initiatives, support public interest programs and develop resources and new opportunities for Rutgers students. An Advisory Committee, chaired by the Assistant Dean and including the student leadership of APIL and the law school's pro bono projects, the Directors of the Clinical and Externship Programs, selected faculty members and community representatives, provides guidance and support for pro bono and public interest activities at the law school. It also gives support for APIL's annual Public Interest Auction, which provides funding for summer public interest fellowships.

Funding

Law school, IOLTA grant, New Jersey Bar Foundation grant

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

In the Bankruptcy Project, students are teamed with volunteer attorneys to interview clients and prepare bankruptcy petitions. Clients are given a fresh start while students learn from their attorney partners - who in turn are fulfilling their own pro bono obligation. The Law School provides comprehensive training, and program coordination, office space and computers with bankruptcy software to support this project. It is run under the auspices of the local federal Bankruptcy Court, which has been generous with its advice and assistance, and honors the participants each year with a reception at the Court. This project is open to all second and third year students who complete training in the fall.

The Pro Bono Mediation Project provides an opportunity for students who have completed an eighteen hour training course at the Law School - provided by court personnel, judges, law school professors and recent Law School graduates - to become Certified Mediators. This training will take place in late January and early February 2008. After completion of the training and observing two mediation sessions at the Camden County Superior or Camden Municipal Court, the students then put their mediation and conciliation skills to work on cases assigned by the respective courts. In teams of two, the students listen to both sides, and provide assistance to the parties to come up with their own resolution. This program is highly valued by the courts, as many parties are able to resolve their issues without litigation. Moreover, it provides valuable experience to students and demonstrates a successful alternative to litigation. This student-run program is open to all students who are selected from applications and participate in the required training.

Our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program is sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service, which provides materials for a one day January training session, to be scheduled for a Saturday in January 2008. Students subsequently provide assistance to low income Camden residents needing help to fill out their tax returns. For the three months prior to April 15th, students are at a local library two nights a week, and on campus Saturday mornings to staff this project. All students who complete training are eligible for this student-run project.

Students volunteering for the Domestic Violence Pro Bono Project provide basic legal assistance to victims of domestic violence seeking restraining orders in Camden County. Students participating in this program have the opportunity to develop interviewing and counseling skills while helping someone who may be facing a crisis. Project volunteers also partner with the Domestic Violence Clinic by identifying appropriate cases for referral to the Domestic Violence Clinic or other legal services that provide free legal representation. A student doing pro bono work in the Domestic Violence Project will typically spend one morning per week at the courthouse over the course of a semester or during the summer. Trainings covering domestic violence law take place in September and January each school year.

Through the Immigration Project, Rutgers law students have the opportunity to work on political asylum cases under the supervision of attorneys from the Camden Center for Law and Social Justice ("CCLSJ"). In addition to research, students will provide assistance by interviewing clients and witnesses. Students also assist immigrants at the Camden Public Library, which takes place one or two evenings each month. In addition, students can assist the Nationalities Service Center in Philadelphia with various cases, Students who have taken immigration law or who have immigration experience are eligible for immigration pro bono work after completing the first semester of law school.

The Pro Bono Research Project, developed and administered in conjunction with Prof. Sarah Ricks, provides free legal research services to public interest law practitioners. Limited to eight second and third year students, this project offers the opportunity to simultaneously improve legal research and writing skills under the supervision of a practicing attorney while providing much needed assistance to public interest organizations. This can be done at a time and place of the participants choosing, providing maximum flexibility.

Through the Defender Project, a very limited number of second or third year students will have the opportunity, after substantive training provided by the Federal Defenders Office in Philadelphia, to assist with investigation, brief writing and research in death penalty cases. *

During election years, the Election Protection Project trains students to monitor polling places, and organizes students to go out on election day and provide impartial monitoring.

The Childrens SSI Project provides representation to children whose SSI applications have been denied, and students are paired with volunteer attorneys to work on these cases, which will be referred from South Jersey Legal Services.

The Financial Literacy Project provides an opportunity for students to go into Camden high schools with Camden bankruptcy attorneys and teach students about credit, debt and budgeting.

Through the Street Law Project, students have the opportunity, after training, to go into the Camden community and talk to Camden youth about constitutional issues pertinent to their lives. The training for that project is scheduled for fall 2007. After completion of their first semester, all students are eligible for this project. Training will be repeated in January for first year students.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

Some faculty members provide supervision/advice/assistance to Pro Bono Project and the student pro bono group projects.

Awards/Recognition

Pro Bono Awards are presented at graduation to students who have done three semesters of pro bono work, or 35 hours of pro bono work, at least a portion of which was done in their third year.

Community Service

Students initiate community service projects and the law school provides support. Annually, BLSA sponsors a tutoring project at a local school; the ABA/LSD chapter sponsors a community service day; LLSA sponsors a Safe Halloween party; the SBA has an Easter Egg Hunt; and APIL has a Habitat for Humanity type project.

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Eve Biskind Klothen
Assistant Dean for Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs
E-mail
P: (856) 225-6608

Pam Mertsock-Wolfe
Pro Bono Coordinator
E-mail
P: (856) 225-6406

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

None listed

Public Interest Centers

None listed

Public Interest Clinics

Community Development Clinic - The Rutgers Community Development Clinic provides legal representation and related technical assistance to non-profit organizations and small businesses in Camden. Clinic students work under the supervision of clinic faculty in representing clients, including providing legal and technical advice, drafting organizational and transactional documents, interacting with government agencies and financial institutions, and negotiating deals. In appropriate instances, students will collaborate with counterparts in community planning and business development in providing services to clients. Representative areas of legal work include: non-profit and small business corporate structure and governance (including choosing form of entity, preparing certificates of incorporation and bylaws, etc.), shareholder agreements, tax exempt status and other tax issues, zoning and land use, eminent domain, legislative and policy advocacy, real estate and financial transactions (real estate closings, small business loans, etc.), and negotiation and drafting of contracts such as leases and partnership and joint venture agreements. The overall focus of the Clinic's representation, whether for nonprofit or business clients, is revitalization of Camden communities and promotion of new economic opportunities for Camden's citizens.

Participants in the Rutgers Community Development Clinic attend seminar meetings and work directly with clients. Students may extend their clinical experience, thereby becoming involved in more complex matters, by registering for a subsequent semester in the two-credit Advanced Community Development Clinic.

Domestic Violence Clinic - As with the Civil Practice Clinic, this course focuses on the skills necessary for client representation, the ethical issues that arise in cases, and the roles of attorney and counselor. Students are required to represent victims of domestic violence in complex domestic violence matters. Clinical attorneys supervise.

Students work with a partner and undertake all steps necessary to prepare for court hearings, including interviewing clients, reviewing court documents from related cases or prior proceedings, making strategic decisions, and drafting documents. Because the initial complaints are often drafted by police or other non-lawyers, and are thus often deficient, students often need to amend the complaint. In some situations, students may also need to write briefs for the actual representations as part of an effective strategy, or at the request of the judge. Typically, these briefs are under ten pages but must be prepared in only a few days. Those situations provide students with an additional and valuable learning experience about the realities of trial practice from a research and writing perspective. Students also make all necessary court appearances. In New Jersey, third-year students may appear in court under the New Jersey Third Year Practice Rule. The types of representations which students undertake include final restraining order hearings where both parties have filed for relief; final restraining order hearings involving novel issues of law, motions for reconsideration, contempt hearings, or appeals.

Marshall-Brennan Program - Students take a fall seminar designed to train them to teach constitutional law to high school students and then in the spring go out and do the actual teaching.

Rutgers Civil Practice Clinic - The Clinic is both a law school course and a law office staffed by students. It is a four- credit, one semester limited enrollment course open to any law student (full-time or part- time) who has completed two-thirds of his or her legal education. The Civil Practice Clinic involves both client representation and a seminar component. Students provide representation in civil cases under the supervision of an attorney. Working with partners, students undertake all the steps necessary to representation, including interviewing clients, making strategic decisions, drafting documents and briefs, conducting negotiations and making all court appearances. Currently, students participating in the Civil Practice Clinic work with one of several projects: Elder Law Project, Rutgers/LEAP Legal Project and Special Education Project. The LEAP Legal Project provides legal advice, representation and community education to LEAP Academy students and their parents. LEAP Academy is an innovative full-service year-round grammar school in Camden that provides legal assistance, medical care, social services and parent training to LEAP families.

Externships/Internships

The law school conducts an extensive externship program whereby third-year students gain academic credit while working twelve to fifteen hours each week for various public and private nonprofit agencies and for state and federal judges. In addition to the agency work, students attend seminars relating to the work done in their placements, and write journals reflecting on their experiences.

Classes with a Public Service Component

Advanced Mediation - Prof. Petrilla encourages participation in the mediation program.

Public Interest Law - Requires a community service component, to be approved by the professor.

Public Interest Journals

Rutgers Journal of Law & Religion

Rutgers Journal of Law & Urban Policy

PI Career Support Center

The Assistant Dean for Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs provides public interest career counseling, as do other members of the Office of Career Services staff. They provide careful guidance for students applying for public interest fellowships.

Rutgers also encourages and supports students' attendance at the Equal Justice Works Career Fair, and other public interest job fairs.

With the other area law schools, the Law School sponsors a Public Interest Public Service (PIPS) Job Fair each year in Philadelphia.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

Partially by student fee and partially through law school operating expenses.

For a description see: http://www-camlaw.rutgers.edu/probono/fundingpubint.html

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

None listed

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

None listed

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

APIL (Association of Public Interest Law) raises money through its Annual Auction and uses the proceeds to pay stipends for students engaging in public interest work over the summer. The Dean uses law school funds to match all bids over $100.00. The law school also provides 50 work/study slots, and pays the "match" for area public interest positions.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Through the Philadelphia Bar Association's Public Interest Outreach Committee, the law school co-sponsors a series of Summer Brown Bag lunches for law students working in the greater Philadelphia area.

Various panels and programs are sponsored by student groups such as Association for Public Interest Law and the American Constitution Society, including programs on eminent domain, etc.

Others include panels on same sex marraige, immigration reform, etc.

Student Public Interest Groups

American Constitution Society

Association for Public Interest Law (APIL)

Womens Law Society

August 6, 2018