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American Bar Association
Directory of Law School Public Interest and Pro Bono Programs

Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center

Louisiana State University
Paul M. Hebert Law Center
202 Law Center
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
www.law.lsu.edu

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Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Missi Lightfoot
Career Coordinator
101 Law Center
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
225-578-8787
Missi.Lightfoot@law.lsu.edu

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Category Type

Independent Student Pro Bono Group Projects with no school-wide program.

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Description of Program

Public Interest is a growing area at the Law Center. A group of students, along with faculty and Career Services advisors, started the Public Interest Law Society (PILS) in the spring of 2005. This group formed out of two former student organizations, the Pro Bono Committee of the Student Bar Association and Students Helping Others. PILS focuses on three areas: community service, pro bono work and searching for and funding public interest internships. Its goal is to increase the number of public interest and pro bono opportunities available to LSU law students by administering a fellowship fund for summer public interest internships and organizing pro bono projects to help the local community during the school year.

The Law Center began providing office space in the summer of 2006 for two attorneys from EJW/Americorps Pro Bono Legal Corps. These attorneys, hosted by the Louisiana Bar Foundation, recruit, train, and supervise law students for pro bono projects.

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Location of Program

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Staffing/Management/Oversight

A faculty advisor provides oversight to the students who are acting on the Board of Directors of PILS.

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Funding

PILS is directly funded by the Law Center.

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Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

Pro Bono Committee of the Student Bar Association- The Pro Bono Committee worked with Thirst for Justice, a legal clinic for the underprivileged sponsored by the Baton Rouge Bar Foundation. The Committee also assisted attorneys in Baton Rouge through the Bar Foundation by supplying students to help them with their pro bono work. The Pro Bono Committee is now part of the Public Interest Law Society. See http://students.law.lsu.edu/pils/index.htm

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Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

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Awards/Recognition

Students who complete 50 hours or more of pro bono service during law school wear white cords at graduation and receive a notation on their transcript, as well as in the Commencement Program.

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Community Service

The Public Interest Law Society currently works with the St. Vincent De Paul Soup Kitchen, Habitat for Humanity and Everybody Reads. PILS also helped place students in Hurricane relief projects, including sending students to Bay St. Louis to work with the Student Hurricane Network. The committee plans to send more students to Student Hurricane Network projects in the coming year.

Furthermore, the Student Bar Association sponsors an Angel Tree annually before Christmas, where students, faculty and staff can choose children in need of Christmas gifts. Both the Student Bar Association and the Black Law Student Association sponsor a canned food drive each year.

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Law School Public Interest Programs

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Contact Information

Gwendolyn L. Ferrell
Associate Director Career Services
225.578.8707
gwen.ferrell@law.lsu.edu

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Certificate/Curriculum Programs

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Public Interest Centers

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance - Students provide free tax return preparation services to low-income foreign students, teachers and researchers. In 2005, LSU won the American Bar Association/Law Student Division's Best Continuing VITA Site award.

Butler Center Legal Clinic - This program was organized in conjunction with the main LSU campus and provided free legal services to low income residents of Old South Baton Rouge. Law students were hired by the legal clinic to perform initial intake and screeing of clients. Law clerks also were able to research and prepare documents for cases under the supervision of legal aid attorneys. The legal clinic focused on successions and donations, estate planning and property law, but also dealt with issues under family law, contract law and disputes and resolutions. The legal clinic was funded through a three year grant and therefore is no longer in operation.

Pugh Institute for Justice - The George W. and Jean H. Pugh Institute for Justice is a tax exempt, charitable organization founded in 1998 to provide support for research, educational, and pro bono activities that will promote justice for individuals in the administration of the criminal and civil justice systems in the State of Louisiana and elsewhere. See http://host.law.lsu.edu/pughinstitute/

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Public Interest Clinics

Domestic Violence Protection Clinic

Third-year students are certified to practice law and represent victims of domestic and dating violence in East Baton Rouge Family Court. Student experiences include interviewing victims, negotiating settlement, and representing clients in court hearings. Through the classroom and real world experience, students learn the fundamentals of family law, Louisiana’s abuse protection law and procedure, and perfect trial skills through frequent court appearances. Although cases are before the Family Court, the knowledge and trial experience gained are transferable to other areas of practice. The clinic cooperates with the Battered Women’s Program of the Capital Area Family Violence Intervention Center. Participation is limited to third-year students and requires consent of the Instructor. Prerequisite is The Legal Profession.

Juvenile Representation Clinic

Third-year students are certified to practice law and represent juveniles in delinquency proceedings in the East Baton Rouge Juvenile Court. Students work closely with faculty at the Law Center and attorneys in the Juvenile Public Defender’s Office. Students gain experience in the criminal justice system and perfect their trial skills through frequent court appearances. This Clinic provides a solid understanding of Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Juvenile Law. Although the work is expressly with juveniles, the practical experiences translate to other areas of legal practice. Participation is limited to third-year students and requires consent of the Instructor. Prerequisite is The Legal Profession.

Immigration Legal Services Clinic

Third-year students are certified to practice law and represent individuals with immigration matters through administrative processes and proceedings and appeal. Students gain practical experience traveling to immigration detention centers throughout the state, interviewing clients, appearing for clients before the Immigration Court in Oakdale, Louisiana, or New Orleans, as well as client representation before other administrative bodies. Students learn the fundamentals of Immigration Law and Immigration Practice and Procedure as well as general Administrative Law practice. Participation is limited to second and third-year students and requires consent of the Instructor.

Family Mediation Clinic

Third-year students are certified to practice law and are trained to be Family Law Mediators. The class provides intensive instruction and simulation that prepares students to be capable mediators in family disputes. Although the clinic focuses on mediation in the family context, the skills learned are applicable in other mediation and negotiation contexts. Once trained, students are provided with the opportunity to mediate for real families in crisis and assist with their self-determination of child custody, visitation, support and property. Students will meet statutory requirements of Qualified Family Mediators.

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Externships/Internships

Judicial Externship

Students are placed as law clerk externs in the chambers of judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (New Orleans or Lafayette), the Federal District Courts (Baton Rouge or New Orleans), the Louisiana Supreme Court (New Orleans), or the Louisiana Courts of Appeals (Baton Rouge). Students are required to work in the chambers of their assigned judge during the semester as well as attend a weekly one hour class meeting at the Law Center.

Louisiana Department of Justice - Attorney General Externship

As the chief legal officer of the state, the Attorney General heads the Louisiana Department of Justice to protect the interests of the state and its citizens. The Department of Justice is comprised of five legal divisions: Civil, Criminal, Gaming, Litigation, and Public Protection. Students will have the opportunity to work in two of those five divisions during the externship. The externship will provide students with the opportunity to conduct legal research and draft memoranda, pleadings, trial and appellate briefs, and a variety of other legal documents; and to prepare cases for hearing or trial. There is a classroom component to this externship that meets one hour per week. Students will also have the opportunity to draft advisory opinions issued by the Attorney General.

Louisiana Department of Revenue, Office of Legal Affairs

Students are placed with the Louisiana Department of Revenue in Baton Rouge and are expected to work a minimum of 72 hours over the course of the semester. Income Tax I is a prerequisite. Participation requires the consent of the Instructor.

Internal Revenue Service, Office of Chief Counsel (New Orleans)

Students are placed with the Office of Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service in New Orleans and are expected to work at least 150 hours over the course of the semester. It is suggested that students commit at least 4 hours per day and 20 hours per week for a minimum total of 150 hours for the term of the externship. Income Tax I is a prerequisite. Participation requires the consent of the Instructor.

Individualized Supervised Externship (1-2 hours)

The Individualized Externship involves research and transactional work in a specifically approved placement under the direction of a field supervisor attorney and a full-time member of the law faculty. The students’ externship must be done in connection with a substantive course covering the subject matter to which the externship will relate. The experience can occur during the semester in which the course was taught or, with permission, over the course of one or two consecutive semesters beginning no later than the semester following the one in which the student took the substantive course. Also, some courses at the Law Center offer an optional experiential component. For example, students who have enrolled in Administration of Criminal Justice II have received academic credit for fieldwork with the U.S. Department of Justice, the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney, and the East Baton Rouge Parish Public Defender's Office, and the Innocence Project in New Orleans. Determination of successful completion of the program will be the responsibility of the supervising faculty member, who will consult with the supervising attorney. Participation requires special permission.

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Classes with a Public Service Component

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Public Interest Journals

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Public Interest Career Assistance

Students interested in working for public interest organizations, whether for summer internships or permanent employment, can meet with the Career Services Office to determine their interests and career goals and to identify potential employers, both locally and out of state. For the past few years, some of our students have participated in the Equal Justice Works job fair and successfully gained summer internships. Our students also have access to PSLawNet, which includes a vast database of public interest job opportunities. In the fall of 2006, the LSU Law Center designed a public interest virtual job fair and each year close to 30 employers participate. This job fair puts organizations in direct contact with students who have a commitment to pro bono work without having to forego the expense of travel.

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Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

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Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

Graduate Student Funded:

Other Funding Sources:

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Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

For information, see http://students.law.lsu.edu/pils/

Graduate Student Funded:

Other Funding Sources:

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Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

In support of PILS and those students who wish to pursue public interest internships for the summer, the Law Center provides $30,000 for summer fellowships, with awards of up to $4000 per student. The Law Center donated the fellowship funds without requiring fundraising on the part of PILS.

Graduate Student Funded:

Other Funding Sources:

In the summer of 2009, the Law Center provided ten $2000 Juvenile Public Defender Fellowships, which are funded by the Louisiana Public Defender Board. These fellowships allowed students to work with Juvenile Public Defenders across the state or to work in the state office.

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Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Reforming Eyewitness Identification - Convicting the Guilty, Protecting the Innocent

Defining Crimes - The Theory of the Criminal Law's Special Part

Barry Sheck - Guest speaker

Sister Helen Prejean - Guest speaker

LSU Law Center Public Interest Law Lecture Series - Past lecturers include Professor Barry Scheck, Sister Helen Prejean and Professor Bill Quigley.

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Student Public Interest Groups

Public Interest Law Society (PILS) - PILS focuses on three areas: community service, pro bono work and searching for and funding public interest internships. Its goal is to increase the number of public interest and pro bono opportunities available to LSU law students by administering a fellowship fund for summer public interest internships and organizing pro bono projects to help the local community during the school year.

Updated: 8/8/2013

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