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

University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law

University of Arizona
James E. Rogers College of Law
1201 E Speedway
P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721

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Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Martha Fenn
Coordinator of Special Projects
(520) 621-1166

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Category Type

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

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Description of Program

VLP Advocates Program, conceived in 1999 by students on our Community Service Board, allows students to work under supervision of volunteer lawyers, to deliver legal services to those most in need of civil legal help. More than 480 students have volunteered (124 in 2005, 110 in 2004) and approx. 1,000 cases are handled annually.

In 2004-2005, the program had the following components: (Guided by the law school's Coordinator of Special Projects and the Director of Tucson's Volunteer Lawyers Program, the program has expanded beyond what was offered in 2004-05.)

Child Support Project -Students review pleadings of pro se litigants at domestic default hearings to make sure that child support was calculated accurately and, if not, they prepare new and accurate documents.

Domestic Relations Clinics - Students meet with clients, provide basic information and advice, and assist in completing self-help forms.

Guardianship Clinics - Students meet with unrepresented clients at their guardianship hearings in Probate Court, explain the proceedings and review the client's file to ensure that all legal requirements have been met. Students also appear before the court and offer recommendations as to whether the client should be awarded guardianship. For more information, see www.law.arizona.edu/Depts/Community/default.htm, www.vlparizona.org/LawStudents.htm

The Justice Project was formed through the Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice and is coordinated by a faculty member. Teams of 2-5 students (many of them first-years) handle cases where there appears to have been a miscarriage of justice. Their work includes such things as reviewing trial records, searching for evidence which can be DNA tested, drafting post-conviction petitions and putting together commutation requests. They stay in contact with their "clients" and some have the opportunity to meet with them in prison. The number of cases and students vary each year, but in a typical year, 8 cases will be handled by 22-25 students.

In the Pro-Bono Appellate Project, coordinated by the Asst. Dean of Student Affairs, students work on 9th Circuit Court of appeals cases and travel to San Francisco in groups of 2-3 to argue in front of the Federal Court of Appeals. The Courts R Us program gives low-income family high school students an opportunity to work in the legal field during summer. Law students serve as role models, train and match attorney mentors with the students, and introduce them to different aspects of legal education by giving them a law school tour and planning other activities.

Through the Teen Court program, students help prevent middle and high school students from entering the juvenile justice system. They train high school students to be judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys for their own in school court. The court handles cases of students who have broken rules. Law students also assist teachers with program development and mentoring.

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Location of Program

Adminstrative office or curricular program – The Coordinator of Special Projects serves as a central point of contact for most of the law school's pro bono efforts, including the Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program and student-organized pro bono efforts.

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The Coordinator of Special Projects serves as a central point of contact for most of the law school's pro bono efforts, including the Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program and student-organized pro bono efforts.

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The law school provides administrative support for those pro bono projects that have an administrator involved, but not for projects run entirely by student organizations. The types of administrative support include coordination and training of student volunteers, photocopying, and limited secretarial support.

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Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

National Lawyers Guild Community Legal Referral Clinics – The NLG runs legal referral clinics to serve people in need at 4 or 5 locations in the community (Casa Maria, Primavera Men's Shelter, other). Students meet with people who have questions and need information about how to access the legal system. Clinics meet weekly.

Native American Law Students Association – Through the Legal Referral Program at the Tucson Indian Center, students provide referral services to people on a walk-in basis three days per week.

VLP Advocates Bankruptcy Clinic – Under supervision of attorneys, students work with pro se clients appearing in Federal Bankruptcy Court.

VLP Advocates Child Support Clinic – Under supervision of attorneys, students review pleadings of pro per litigants at domestic default hearings to confirm that child support was calculated accurately. If there are errors, students prepare accurate documents.

VLP Advocates Domestic Relations Clinic – Students meet with clients under the supervision of volunteer attorneys, provide basic information and advice, and assist in completing self-help forms.

VLP Advocates Guardianship Clinic – Under supervision of attorneys, students meet with unrepresented clients at guardianship hearings in probate court to explain the proceedings and review client's file to ensure all legal requirements have been met. Students then appear before the court and offer recommendations as to whether clients should be awarded guardianships.

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Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

There is no formal faculty pro bono policy. Faculty and administrators serve as advisors for six of the nine pro bono projects.

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Working with the law school, the Volunteer Lawyers Program hosts a recognition luncheon for students volunteers in the VLP Advocacy Programs. Faculty, program administrators, judges and commissioners also attend.

The recipient of the 3L Andrew Silverman Community Service Award is recognized at our annual 3L Luncheon. In addition, one outstanding student volunteer from among the many who participate in our VLP Advocate Program, at the Volunteer Lawyers Program's Annual Awards Luncheon.

1L and 2L Andrew Silverman Community Service Awards are presented at a reception each spring. One student organization is also recognized each year for outstanding participation in community service activities.

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Community Service

Our student/faculty Community Service Board promotes community service in a number of ways. (1) It coordinates monthly community service projects, which have included helping low-income families build homes through United Housing; volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House; organizing a team for AIDSWalk; helping Native Seed Search on their farm south of Tucson; and organizing activities for children at a local hospital. Activities are held on Saturday mornings, and faculty/staff/students participate. (2) It advises students and student organizations who want to get involved in community service work, by providing information, recommendations, and contacts. (3) It maintains paper and on-line resources about community service opportunities for law students. (4) It presents community service awards each spring. Law Students also participate in Lawyers for Literacy, in conjunction with the Pima County Young Lawyers Division. They tutor local elementary school children once per week during the school year.

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Law School Public Interest Programs

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Contact Information

Mary Birmingham, Esq.
Dean of Career & Professional Development
Career & Professional Development

Paula Nailon, Esq.
Director for Professional Development
Career & Professional Development

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Certificate/Curriculum Programs

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Public Interest Centers

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Public Interest Clinics

Child Advocacy Law – Students represent children in the Pima County Juvenile Court and, on occasion, in Domestic Relations Court. They have primary responsibility for court appearances, negotiations, pleadings and all other lawyering decisions in proceedings dealing with child abuse and neglect, termination of parental rights, guardianship, foster care and adoption. They also work on special education issues for children in foster care. http://www.law.arizona.edu/Depts/Clinics/CAC/index2.html

Domestic Violence Law Clinic – The Clinic offers free legal advice and representation to survivors of domestic abuse.

Working with instructors and volunteer lawyers, and Masters of Social Work students, students interview clients on-site at domestic violence shelters, and provide legal advice and social service referrals.

Students provide various legal services, including: (a) representation at contested Order of Protection hearings; (b)representation of survivors who have used methods of self-protection against their abusers and are then arrested and charged with crimes; (c) victim representation during criminal prosecution of their abusers; (d) representation at contested divorce and child custody proceedings when welfare of children is at risk. http://www.law.arizona.edu/Depts/Clinics/DVC/

Immigration Law Clinic – Students interview clients undergoing proceedings in Immigration Court, assist them in evaluating their cases and preparing applications for "relief" from deportation. Most clients are political asylum applicants or long-term legal permanent residents seeking humanitarian waivers of deportation. Most 6-unit students represent a client at a final removal hearing before a local immigration judge and, occasionally, students may work on, and even argue, 9th Circuit cases. http://www.law.arizona.edu/Depts/Clinics/ILC/

Indigenous People's Law Clinic – Under auspices of the Indigenous People's Law and Policy Program, students provide domestic and international legal assistance to Indigenous peoples of the world. The Clinic has a court appointed guardian-ad-litem program for the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation, which involves representation of abused and neglected children before their tribal courts in dependency proceedings. Students have worked in such areas as Native Hawaiian Sovereignty, Tribal Environmental Law, Tribal Probate, Criminal Code, Cultural Protection, Rules of Court Legislation, Legal Research for Tribal Judges, International Intellectual Property and Human Rights Advocacy, Reorganization of Tribal Criminal Justice Systems, Foreign Trade Zone and Tribal Economic Development, Trail Tort Claims Legislation, Litigation Based Support for Federal Court Cases Involving Treat and Other Tribal Rights. The clinic has also served as consultant for the O'odham in Mexico involving land claims and immigration,and provided legal resources to the Tarahumara and Tepehuan Indians in Mexico. www.law.arizona.edu/depts/iplp/advocacy/index.cfm?page=advoc

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We have numerous field placement opportunities:

  1. Arizona Legislative Legal Internships in Senate, House of Representatives, and Legislative Council (6 units Spring, 3rd semester);

  2. Criminal Defense Clinic - Students work in public defenders offices in Tucson on either felony, misdemeanor and juvenile cases. (4 units Fall, 3 units Spring, 3rd semester);

  3. Criminal Prosecution Clinic - Students serve as prosecuting attorneys in a Tucson prosecution office, working in areas of felony, misdemeanor and juvenile law areas. (4 units Fall, 3 units Spring, 3rd semester);

  4. Federal Bankruptcy Court Pro Se Program - Two-semester internship with US Bankruptcy Court, helping serve consumer debtors who have filed bankruptcy cases without aid of an attorney. In adversary proceeding context, students conduct and participate in discovery and research and write motions on behalf of clients. (2-semester course, 4 units total, 5th semester);

  5. Internships with US Senate, House of Representatives and White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (6-10 units, Fall, Spring and Summer, 3rd semester);

  6. Internships with US Border Protection, Immigration Court, and US Dept. of Homeland Security Immigration & Customs Enforcement. (2-3 units, Fall, Spring, Summer, 3rd semester)

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Classes with a Public Service Component

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Public Interest Journals

The Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law

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Public Interest Career Assistance

We created (and update annually) several public interest publications and, as a result, have developed a specialized expertise in these areas. (a) The "Arizona and Nevada Public Interest Handbook," with detailed information (description of office, hiring contacts, address, phone, etc.) for all state and local government, tribal and public interest employers in Arizona and Nevada. (b) The "Government Honors & Internship Handbook," (to which most ABA-accredited law schools subscribe) provides the only comprehensive listing of summer, fall and spring semester internships and post-graduate programs offered by federal agencies, as well as many large state and local governments. (c) "Judicial Clerkship Handbook," with detailed information about applying for post-graduate federal and state clerkships, as well as contact information and links to judges in the Ninth Circuit (and links to the FLCIS and OSCAR databases developed by the federal court system). (d) "Finding and Funding International Public Interest Opportunities," (co-authored with two other law schools).

Other public interest related activities include: (a) Government and Judicial Clerkship Faculty Advisors, who are available to counsel students interested in these areas; (b) "email buddy lists" which put students in direct contact with alumni around the country, who have experience in the areas of judicial clerkships, government employment and honors programs, and public interest positions.

We participated in several public interest consortiums, including: (a) Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair; October, 2005; Washington DC; (b) Rocky Mountain Government/Public Interest Law Career Fair; February, 2005; Denver, CO; (c) Northwest Public Service Career Fairs; February, 2005; Portland, OR and Seattle, WA.

We held the Sonoran Desert Public Sector Career Fair in February, 2005, at which over 60 public sector employers interviewed for primarily paid, but also volunteer and for-credit, summer internships and full-time attorney positions. The career fair is among the largest of its kind. Participation is limited to UA students and recent graduates.

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Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

Many of our students received loan repayment assistance through the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education Loan Repayment Program. The program was created in 1990 to establish a statewide loan assistance program for law school graduates employed in programs dedicated to serving the civil legal needs of the poor. Applicants must be members of the State Bar of Arizona (this requirement can be waived for up to 24 months), employed full-time with an approved non-profit legal organization and earning an income not to exceed $45,000. http://www.azflse.org/azflse/grants/loanrepayment.cfm

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Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

Public Service Award - Awarded to one graduating student each year, based on a demonstrated commitment to public service.

Graduate Student Funded:

S. Thomas Chandler Public Service Award - The S. Thomas Chandler Public Service Award was established to assist graduating law students who will be entering public sector or public interest work upon graduation. The idea for an award was initially conceived by the Student Bar Association in 1999, and funded with donations from students, alumni and friends of Thomas Chandler.

Other Funding Sources:

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Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

Graduate Student Funded:

Perry Rogers Scholarship - Full tuition 3-year scholarship, awarded each year up to 8 incoming students. In 2004-05, 3 students with strong public interest backgrounds received scholarships.

Other Funding Sources:

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Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

Graduate Student Funded:

Using funds donated by one of our previous graduating classes, one student was funded for a public interest position in Summer 2005.

Other Funding Sources:

Students raised funds at an event coordinated by the Public Interest Law Organization. Students, faculty and administrators donated money to fund a position, then cast their vote for the person they most wanted to support, based on anonymous job descriptions submitted by students requesting funding.

Our Summer federal work study program provides paid employment for between 60 and 70 students (primarily first years). Students interview for the positions at our Sonoran Desert Public Sector Career Fair, held each February, and most have received job offers by early March. 2005 work study employers included the Arizona Governor's General Counsel; Arizona Attorney General (capital litigation, agriculture, transportation, employment, natural resources, and more); Arizona Secretary of State; county prosecutors and public defenders from throughout Arizona and beyond; Municipality of Anchorage; city attorneys throughout Arizona (criminal and civil divisions); Tucson City Court; Southern Arizona Legal Aid; White Mountain Legal Aid; Catholic Social Services Asylum Program; DNA Legal Services (the largest legal aid organization in the U.S. for Native Americans); the Gila River Indian Community; DC Employment Justice Center; Arizona Center for Disability Law; and National Center for Interamerican Free Trade.

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Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Homecoming CLE Celebration for Students and Alumni – Free CLE for alumni and students. In 2004-05, the program was "Inherit the Wind -Celebrating Academic Freedom and the 75th Anniversary of the Scopes Trial," followed by a Courtyard BBQ and mariachi band.

Annual Marks Lecture – The 2004-05 lecturer was The Honorable Guido Calabresi, U.S. Circuit Court Judge for the Second Circuit, on “Equality in the American Constitution”

Annual McCormick Lecture – The 2004-05 lecturer was Pulitzer Prize winning author and scholar, Samantha Power, on “Can American Foreign Policy be Fixed?”

Annual Supreme Court Highlights CLE – Cosponsored by the American Constitution Society Student Organization, this annual event always includes numerous public interest issues, with specifics depending on the Court's docket. In 2004-05, topics included Guantanamo Cases, U.S. v Blakely, U.S. v Cheney, Ashcroft v. ACLU, City of Littleton, Locke v. Davey. A reception followed in the Courtyard.

Border Tour of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico – Each year, the Immigration Law class takes a border tour to Nogales through BorderLinks, a border educational organization. In 2004-05, following the tour, the class assisting BorderLinks in its annual holiday toy drive.

Distinguished Visiting Scholar Series – Jointly sponsored by the law school's Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy Program and Udall Center's Native Nations Institute, 2004-05 topics included “Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations,” a talk and book signing by Charles Wilkinson, Distinguished University Professor, Moses Lasky Professor of Law, University of Colorado School of Law.

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Student Public Interest Groups

Black Law Students Association

Criminal Law Association

Federalist Society

International Law Society

Law Women's Association

National Lawyers Guild

Phi Delta Phi

Pride Law

Public Interest Law Organization

Student Animal Legal Defense Fund

Student Chapter, ACLU

Updated: 6/1/2007

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