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

Samford University Cumberland School of Law

Samford University
Cumberland School of Law
800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229
www.samford.edu/schools/law/

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Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Cassandra Adams, JD, MPH
Director, CCMC/PIP
Cumberland Community Mediation Center
(205)726-4342
ccmc@samford.edu

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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

The Cumberland Community Mediation Center provides confidential, cost-free mediation to those seeking resolution of community issues, neighborhood disputes or issues between individuals that would be better serviced through mediation. The goals of the Cumberland Community Mediation Center are to promote the use of community mediation and to provide a resource through which the Greater Birmingham community can make use of the mediation process.

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Location of Program

Cumberland School of Law, Robinson Hall Room 215

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Staffing/Management/Oversight

The program is overseen by a Director who coordinates volunteer mediators and works closely with area courts to find cases suitable for community mediation. All mediations are conducted by trained volunteer mediators comprised of attorneys, law students and community members who have completed mediation training through or approved by the CCMC.

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Funding

Funding for the CCMC is provided through Samford University as well as grants and donations from the community.

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Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

Street Law - Law student volunteers each semester receive special training in practical law for youth, pair with a local teacher, and meet with that teacher's students one hour a week for six weeks. Topics covered include, but are not limited to, "Juvenile Rights & Responsibilities, "Who is a Juvenile," "Guns & Violence," Alcohol & Drugs." Priority is given to schools and alternative settings working with "at risk" youth.

Volunteers In Tax Assistance (VITA)

DNA Legislation Project – Law students and recent graduates serve as fellows to determine whether Alabama prison inmates serving sentences of life without parole are eligible to have their cases reviewed by the appellate-level courts based on new DNA evidence.

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Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

There is no formal faculty pro bono policy. The PILO faculty advisor, Professor Joseph Snoe, is actively involved in the pro bono project.

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Awards/Recognition

Each year students who complete at least 30 hours of pro bono work and/or recognized community service are awarded a certificate of merit and are honored with a reception given by the law school.

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Community Service

Cumberland Community Service Organization – The mission of Cumberland’s Community Service Organization is to promote, encourage and complete community service projects while providing students with a chance to fulfill their obligations to continuously improve society and their community as future legal professionals. Past community service projects included blood drives with the Red Cross, a winter clothes drive, Easter egg hunts for underprivileged children, and can drives for local food banks. CSO believes that participation in the organization allows students to use their God-given talents to give back to our community.

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Law School Public Interest Programs

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Contact Information

Cassandra Adams, Director
Cumberland School of Law Public Interest Program (PIP)
800 Lakeshore Drive, ROBH 215
Birmingham, Alabama 35229
(205)726-4342
ceadams@samford.edu

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Certificate/Curriculum Programs

Mediator Practice – LAW 805 – This course is designed to give mediation experience to enrolled students. Students participating in the course receive hands on mediation training and assist the Mediation Center in providing free mediations to the community. At the end of the course, students will have completed enough hours of training to be certified by the state bar, pending completion of the state’s required number of actual cases mediated.

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Public Interest Centers

The Center for the Study of the Law and the Church – Established in 1987 to serve as an educational resource to churches regarding the relationship of the church with secular law, the Center provides guidance to, and education for, the religious community on secular legal issues that impact churches, including church governance and structure, employment relationships, property rights, tax exemptions and obligations, confidentiality privileges, and general liability issues. The Center is equipped to respond with practical guidance and suggestions to churches, pastors, church personnel and attorneys advising or representing churches regarding legal problems and legal issues faced in a litigious society. The Center has an Advisory Board composed of individuals from both the legal and religious communities and utilizes law students as research assistants to provide churches with comprehensive and current legal advice.

Alabama Center for Law & Civic Education – ACLCE provides area schools with training and resources to educate students on basic issues of the law and how those issues apply to them. Through ACLCE programs like Teen Court and Street Law, law students have the opportunity to go out in the community and present students with legal education geared to their age bracket.

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Public Interest Clinics

Senior Citizen’s Legal Clinic – Law students assist attorneys draft wills and practice estate planning for low-income senior citizens in the community.

Lovelady Center Legal Clinic – Law students assist attorneys represent residents of the Lovelady Center, a local drug rehabilitation center and halfway house for recently released female inmates, in family law and domestic relations cases as well as minor criminal matters.

HELP - The Birmingham HELP program operates weekly legal clinics for the homeless at the Old Firehouse and First Light shelters. Many of the requests received by volunteers are simple to handle, such as the need for a birth certificate or drivers license, help with applying for benefits or appealing the denial of benefits, or clearing up minor criminal matters that are preventing the individual from getting housing or applying for a job. Two or three attorneys staff each clinic each week, assisted by volunteer law students from Cumberland. In addition to providing assistance onsite, law students provide legal research for the volunteer attorneys on issues that cannot be resolved during the two hour clinic.

Project Homeless Connect – Law students conduct intake interviews for the area’s homeless and then pair the client with a local attorney.

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Externships/Internships

Externship I

Students enrolled in any externship must also enroll in this class component. This externship class meets one hour each week. This class will address some substantive topics; negotiation, trial, and other lawyering skills; professionalism and ethical issues; communication with supervisors, clients and others; workplace problems; and other issues applicable to all externs. Some classes will have breakout sessions to address specific topics relevant to particular types of placement. Students enrolled in the externship class submit written work, including the following: a statement of goals at the beginning of the semester; a weekly report of hours with narrative description of activities; submission of a research paper; a reflection essay; and others assigned by the instructor. Participating students receive one hour of graded credit.

Externship II

This class component is required should a student choose to enroll in a second externship. The class would have the same requirements as Externship I. Participating students receive one hour of graded credit.

Judicial Externship I

This is an externship with a federal judge. Othe requirements include: membership on American Journal of Trial Advocate or Law Review or other evidence of superior writing skills. Students are required to work a minimum of 120 hours in the placement. Participating students receive two hours pass/fail credit.

Corporate Externship I

This is an externship placement with a corporate legal office. Students are required to work a minimum of 120 hours in the placement. Participating students receive two hours pass/fail credit.

Litigation Extension I

This externship involves placement in a litigation office such as the District Attorney's Office, Public Defender's Office, Legal Aid Society, and Legal Services of Metro Birmingham. Students must be certified under the Alabama Rule for Legal Internship and have completed Basic Skills in Trial Advocacy. Students are required to work a minimum of 120 hours in the placement. Participating students receive two hours pass/fail credit.

Government Agency Externship I

This externship involves placement in a government agency, such as the U.S. Attorney's Office, IRS, National Labor Relations Board or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Students are required to work a minimum of 120 hours in the placement. Participating students receive two hours pass/fail credit.

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Classes with a Public Service Component

None

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Public Interest Journals

None

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Public Interest Career Assistance

Cumberland’s Career Services Office offers programs throughout the year designed to give students the information and resources necessary to pursue a career in the public interested sector. Each year the Career Services Office also hosts a Public Interest Career Fair where organizations across the country collect resumes and answer questions regarding the work they do. Participants include government agencies, branches of the military, special advocacy groups, and legal aid organizations.

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Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

Cumberland’s Career Services Office offers counseling to navigate repayment options for those who take low-paying, public interest jobs; particularly with regard to the Higher Education Reauthorization and College Opportunity Act of 2008.

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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:

Graduate Student Funded:

Other Funding Sources:

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Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

Public Interest Stipend - Students committing to working 8-10 weeks during the summer in an uncompensated public interest or public service position can qualify for Cumberland’s Public Interest Summer Stipend.

Graduate Student Funded:

Other Funding Sources:

Some summer fellowships are funded through a foundation grant

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Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Student-sponsored:

Cordell Hull Speakers Series

Thurgood Marshall Symposium

PILO-sponsored:

Bill Fuller, Department of Human Resources

Lecture, orientation/training recruiting students to participate in PILO

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Student Public Interest Groups

Hispanic Interest Law Students’ Association

Updated: 2/17/2010

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