Santa Clara University School of Law
Law School Pro Bono Programs
Assistant Dean for Law Career Services
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
P: (408) 554-4350
Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program Characterized by a Referral System with a Coordinator
Description of Programs
The Pro Bono Recognition Program, founded in 1990 by a group of law students, improves access to and understanding of the legal system among members of underrepresented groups, helps law students develop competence, conscience and compassion, and encourages students to become life-long volunteers, recognizing pro bono work as an integral part of a balanced lifestyle. The Pro Bono Recognition Program directs interested students towards general pro bono opportunities, facilitates a student-attorney network to provide students with individual pro bono projects, and recognizes students for their contributions to the community through pro bono work.
In addition to the personal satisfaction of volunteering much-needed assistance and gaining valuable and practical legal experience, students are eligible to receive a Pro Bono Recognition Award from Santa Clara University School of Law. In order to obtain an award, students must complete at least 50 hours of not-for-credit or not-for-compensation work during the academic year (between May 1 and April 30). Qualifying activities include:
- Representing/assisting person(s) of limited financial means, OR person(s) with limited access to legal representation and/or legal representation;
- OR assisting nonprofit, civic, community, religious, or governmental organizations;
- AND supervised by an attorney, political leader, community member or faculty advisor;
- AND uncompensated; AND not for credit; AND not used to satisfy any other academic
Location of Programs
Office of Career Services
The Pro Bono Recognition Program is administered by the Public Interest Law Career Services (PILCS) Career coordinators in the Law Career Services office.
The Public Interest Law Career Services (PILCS) coordinators work out of the Law Career Services department. Wages and overhead to support the activities for the PILCS coordinators is funded by Law Career Services. The Center for Social Justice and Public Interest has generously donated the funds to purchase the recognition award plaques annually.
Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects
Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono
The Pro Bono Project is funded through the Public Interest Resource Center. Annual costs include staff wages and the cost of plaques. The Law School provides an office and equipment.
Students who have performed 50 or more hours of pro bono work are recognized at an annual pro bono recognition luncheon in April. Additionally, award recipients are formally recognized at the annual Public Interest & Social Justice Graduation. Because a number of our students participate in this program annually, the school has devised a tiered recognition program as follows:
Bronze Recognition: First year of recognition for performing 50 or more hours of pro bono service in one calendar year.
Silver Recognition: Second year of recognition for performing 50 or more hours of pro bono service in one calendar year and have achieved Bronze Recognition a previous year.
Gold Recognition: Third year of recognition for performing 50 or more hours of pro bono service in one calendar year and have achieved Silver Recognition a previous year.
Graduating Student and Student of the Year Awards are also given each year.
The Student Bar Association (SBA) has a Community Service Committee which focuses on providing community service opportunities for all students. Santa Clara Law has over 35 Law Student Organizations and it is a requirement for each organization to offer/participate in some form of community service. A representative from each club serves on the SBA Community Service Committee. Recent community service activities include the Susan G. Komen Walk for a cure, Community Service Fair, letter writing campaign, serving meals on Thanksgiving, food, clothing, toiletry, and toy drives, beach clean-up, mentorship programs with high school students, and foreclosure clinics.
Law School Public Interest Programs
Center for Social Justice and Public Service
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
P: (408) 554-2766
The Public Interest and Social Justice Law Certificate Program is available to all Santa Clara law students. Participating students receive individualized vocational counseling and job placement assistance with public interest employers. Students receive the Public Interest and Social Justice Law Certificate at a special ceremony, and they receive additional recognition at graduation. Students may enroll in the certificate program at any time during their law school careers. Students must complete public interest and social justice law certificate requirements in the following three categories:
- Academic course work of 15 units and a writing requirement. Academic courses must be selected from three categories of courses including core courses, public interest and social justice law identity related courses, and skills courses.
- Practicum which includes 150 hours of supervised legal work in a public interest/social justice organization
- Public Service of 50 hours during the student's law school career
Students can earn a general certificate or elect a special emphasis in 5 areas: consumer law, criminal justice, critical race jurisprudence, health law, and immigration and refugee law.
For certificate requirements visit http://law.scu.edu/socialjustice/certificate-and-curriculum.cfm and for the course list visit http://law.scu.edu/socialjustice/public-interest-and-social-justice-law-courses.cfm
Public Interest Centers
The Center for Social Justice and Public Service provides a locus for public interest and social justice scholarship, skills, and clinical training, summer fellowships and pro bono work. The Center's rich academic and extracurricular offerings allow Santa Clara students to serve community needs for social justice while studying law. The Center's role includes:
- Facilitating and promoting the research, teaching and service of faculty.
- Sponsoring extra-curricular events to enhance awareness and advance education about social justice issues.
- Supporting clinical education.
- Administering the Public Interest and Social Justice Law Certificate Program.
- Administering the Public Interest and Social Justice Summer Grant Program.
- Promoting the next generation of social justice practitioners throughout the educational pipeline that leads to law school.
Public Interest Clinics
Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center -For more than fifteen years, the Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center (KGACLC) has provided pro bono advice and representation in several areas, including consumer law, immigration law and workers' rights. Poverty-stricken minorities and immigrants from many countries throughout the world make up the vast majority of clients of the KGACLC, which is the civil clinical component of the Santa Clara University School of Law. The Community Law Center leverages the evolving skills of law students, who work under the close supervision of experienced attorneys to provide free legal services. http://law.scu.edu/kgaclc/about-us.cfm
Northern California Innocence Project – Supervised by experienced legal and forensic staff, law students evaluate case histories-- including transcripts, medical reports, and appellate briefs--as well as work with prisoners, crime and evidence labs, law enforcement, defense attorneys, and prosecutors to help prove claims of innocence. This course is recommended for all law students, regardless of their intention to practice criminal law. http://www.scu.edu/law/ncip
Currently, there are five externship programs that offer students an opportunity to receive academic credit for their fieldwork:
- Civil Practice and High Tech Law: Civil practice students find placements in public interest agencies, private law offices, city attorney's offices, corporate legal departments and other settings under the direct supervision of a licensed California attorney. High tech students find placements in the legal departments of high tech companies, or law firms representing high tech companies, or non-profit organizations focused on high tech law under the supervision of a licensed California attorney, monitored by a member of the law faculty.
- Criminal Justice: Students enrolled in the criminal justice externship program work in a prosecutor's or public defender's office, under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney.
- Judicial: The purpose of this externship program is to afford qualified students the opportunity to observe and participate in the functioning of either a trial or appellate court by interning for a judge.
- Domestic Away: The Domestic "Away" Externship Program is for judicial, government and social justice Externships out of the Bay Area. The Domestic "Away" Externship Program does not include placements of for profit firms and companies. Away placements are limited to established social justice organizations, government offices and the courts.
- The Panetta Fellowship: The Panetta Fellowship Program is a joint venture between Santa Clara University School of Law and the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy in Monterey, California. The Panetta Fellowship Program was developed to provide an educational opportunity for law students interested in the law and government, political science or public policy to work with Leon and Sylvia Panetta, and other professional staff at The Panetta Institute, on matters within the public mission and service of the Institute.
The externship program is open to all students who have completed their first year of legal studies and who have completed Pleading and Civil Procedure. Placements are made in the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters. Participation in the program is contingent upon acceptance by the firm or company in which the placement is sought and approval by the Director of Law Externships. Individual placements may have additional educational or experiential requirements.
Classes with a Public Service Component
There are many courses at Santa Clara Law with a Public Service Component. The courses that are offered each year in connection with our clinical programs include:
- Katherine and George Alexander Community Law Center (KGACLC) Civil Clinical Skills I & Civil Clinical Skills II
- KGACLC Health Law Seminar: Trauma
- KGACLC Consumer & Debtors Rights Interviewing and Advising
- KGACLC Immigration Interviewing and Advising
- KGACLC Worker's Compensation Interviewing and Advising
- KGACLC Workers' Rights Interviewing and Advising
- Northern California Innocence Project
- Northern California Innocence Project Advanced Practice Clinic
- Juvenile Justice Topics: Leadership Training
- Juvenile Justice Topics: Practical Applications
Public Interest Journals
The Santa Clara Law Review dedicated a symposium to Social Justice: Meeting Human Needs, Examining the Social Safety Net for Working America. This issue can be found at 44 Santa Clara Law Review, Number 4, 2004.
PI Career Support Center
Public Interest Law Career Services (PILCS) is a division within the Law Career Services department. The PILCS coordinators are Santa Clara Law students who are dedicated to helping Santa Clara Law students and graduates identify legal employment and pro bono volunteer opportunities in the public interest and social justice fields. PILCS provides resources and counseling for job searches, internships, fellowships and volunteer positions in public interest related fields. Additionally, the Law School participates in the Northern California Public Interest/Public Sector Legal Careers Day, one of the largest public interest career fairs in the United States.
Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)
Income Supplement Grants -Graduates of Santa Clara University School of Law working full-time in qualifying public interest and social justice positions may apply for a one-year Income Supplement Grant. The Income Supplement Plan ensures a minimum income to selected graduates accepting public interest and social justice jobs at low salaries. These graduates work for organizations that seek to improve the lives of the marginalized, subordinated, and underrepresented clients and causes. The grant year runs from September 1 through the following August 31.
Law School Funded:
Graduate Student Funded:
Other Funding Sources:
Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships
Law School Funded:
Graduate Student Funded:
Other Funding Sources:
Public Interest and Social Justice Law Board - Scholarships will be awarded to entering students or those who are currently enrolled as students at Santa Clara University School of Law. Recipients will be selected according to criteria adopted by the Executive Board and the Dean's office, including commitment to public interest activities, career objectives, law school service, academic achievement, and financial need.
Law School Funded:
Public Interest and Social Justice Law Board
Stipends will be awarded to provide grants to currently enrolled students at Santa Clara University School of Law who accept summer jobs which are either volunteer or low- paying and meet the employment eligibility criteria of the Income Supplement Plan. Recipients will be selected according to criteria adopted by the Executive Board, including commitment to public interest activities, career objectives, law school service, academic achievement, and financial need. The following grants are administered through the Public Interest and Social Justice Law Board:
Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowships
In honor of United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, Skip Paul '75 established the Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowships at Santa Clara University School of Law. These Fellowships provide financial assistance to Santa Clara University Law Students to fund public interest and social justice law summer positions.
Public Interest & Social Justice Law Board Summer Grants
The Public Interest & Social Justice Law Board provides funding for public interest and social justice work done by law students in the summer months. This fellowship opportunity is for Santa Clara University Law Students working full-time in qualifying public interest and social justice positions.
LGBT Legal Issues Summer Grants
Santa Clara University School of Law students who plan to work full-time for a LGBT organization, in a position doing legal work, may apply for this LGBT Legal Issues Summer Grant. Applicants should show a demonstrated commitment to and interest in the rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender individuals and people living with HIV, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Eligibility: Fellowships will be awarded to Santa Clara University Law School students who have completed at least one year of full-time or part-time study *** by the time the fellowship will begin ***. Each applicant must secure a full-time summer law position with a public interest and social justice organization.
Graduate Student Funded:
Other Funding Sources:
Public Interest Endowment
Stipends will be awarded to provide grants to currently enrolled students at Santa Clara University School of Law who accept summer jobs which are either volunteer or low- paying and meet the employment eligibility criteria of the Income Supplement Plan. Recipients will be selected according to criteria adopted by the Executive Board, including commitment to public interest activities, career objectives, law school service, academic achievement, and financial need.
Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs
Joining theory and practice, the Center sponsors a lunchtime speakers' series on contemporary social justice issues. Topics are as varied as community law practice; private practice in the public interest; the digital divide; international human rights; or race, class and criminal justice. Speakers are prominent attorneys who describe their practice, as well as scholars who discuss recent work. Faculty serve as facilitators.
Social Justice Thursday Essential Issues
Many first year students feel that issues of social justice and legal ethics can get lost in a thicket of technical knowledge. The Social Justice Thursday Essential Issues series addresses these feelings by providing first year law students with a forum to discuss social justice issues, alternate perspectives on legal education, and first-year subject areas. Faculty serve as discussion leaders.
Social Justice Workshop
Faculty members rotate teaching this unique seminar which gives students a chance to explore with faculty contemporary, cutting-edge issues in social justice law. Each course begins with an introduction defining the terms of the contemporary debate. Throughout the semester nationally prominent speakers and faculty members present papers to the seminar for discussion. Lectures by featured speakers are open to the University community.
Social Justice Case Study Conference
Students in the Law and Social Justice Seminar describe their research on social justice cases, legislation, and issues.
Trina Grillo Public Interest and Social Justice Law Retreat
The Grillo Retreat provides a unique opportunity for public interest and social justice law students, faculty and practitioners to forge an alliance by exchanging viewpoints, exploring career opportunities, and formulating strategies for social justice during this annual weekend retreat. Co-sponsored by Santa Clara Law School and the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), with other west coast law schools, this retreat honors the memory of Trina Grillo, 1948-96, who was a source of inspiration to many law students, professors, and public interest and social justice lawyers.
The Center for Social Justice and Public Service offers at least two major lectures each year featuring Critical Race theorists. Critical Race Theory is a body of scholarship that has grown since the mid-1970s as a response to the rollback of gains made by the Civil Rights Movement. Critical race scholars, who see "racism as an ingrained feature of our landscape," respond by analyzing "the myths, presuppositions, and received wisdoms that make up the common culture about race." See Critical Race Theory: The Cutting Edge (Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic eds., 2d ed. 2000). Bringing the perspective of Critical Race Scholars to campus will benefit both law school and undergraduate students, faculty, staff, and alumni by encouraging an exchange of ideas.
Visiting Practitioner Lecture
The visiting practitioner program brings prominent attorneys to campus to counsel students on pursuing public interest and social justice careers and to share their work.
Student Public Interest Groups
The Public Interest & Social Justice Coalition (PISJC) is the student arm of the Center for Social Justice and Public Service. The PISJC is a coalition of law students that raises awareness and addresses issues of public interest and social justice. PISJC provides a network for students and unites concerned student organizations engaged in public interest goals. PISJC sponsors Donate-a-day, which fundraises for the Social Justice Summer Grants; and co-sponsors numerous events with other student organizations and the Center. Visit the Coalition http://law.scu.edu/pisjc/index.cfm
There are a host of other student organizations whose mission includes a commitment to public interest and social justice including but not limited to:
American Civil Liberties Union-Northern California
American Constitution Society for Law and Policy
National Lawyers Guild
August 6, 2018