Pro bono activities
Welcome to the Indiana University Maurer School of Law Access to Justice Program. AJP encourages law students and recent graduates to provide legal assistance to low-income individuals, both while in law school and after graduation.
The Maurer School of Law has adopted an aspirational goal for students of 60 hours of pro bono work during their three years of law school (20 hours per year). The school has adopted the ABA definition of pro bono, which includes law-related services without compensation of either income or academic credit. In 2015-16, our students logged 16,291 pro bono hours. The class of 2016 contributed 25,976 hours during their three years in Bloomington.
Students participate in pro bono services because it is rewarding and it provides practical skills. "Pro bono work is an opportunity for me to apply what I'm learning in a meaningful and interesting way," said Margot Newman, JD'15, who assists indigent criminal defendants and inmates. "I am able to provide legal assistance to persons who have very little or no access to otherwise to legal resources."
AJP organizes a full schedule of events to make achieving the aspirational goal for pro bono service feasible. Starting in the fall, AJP holds a Pro Bono Fair, at which community organizations come to the law school to educate students about and recruit students for volunteer positions. AJP also conducts ethics training for students beginning their pro bono service.
Throughout the school year, AJP also organizes events and brings in speakers. The goal of AJP is to raise awareness of public interest opportunities and provide students with information regarding careers in the public interest sector. In March 2015, AJP invited UC Hastings Professor Ascanio Piomelli to discuss how attorneys and other activists can work to create progressive social change. Professor Piomelli's approach, called "democratic lawyering," explores the impact of race, class, and gender on the effort to create such change.
Recognizing lawyers and law students for pro bono work
Every year, AJP holds the annual Pro Bono Awards ceremony to recognize one outstanding student volunteer from each class and the graduating student who reported the most pro bono hours from his or her time at the law school; AJP additionally recognizes a member of the local community who demonstrates an outstanding commitment to pro bono. In 2016, the recipient of the community attorney award was Michael Ausbrook, '93, counsel to the Indiana Public Defender and the Marion County Public Defender Agency. This year's student honorees were Samantha Paul, '18, Adam Farr, '18, Kyle Castillo, '17, and Jessica Ans, '16. The Pro Bono Awards ceremony speaker was Marc Kadish, pro bono advisor at Mayer Brown.
AJP encourages students to report their pro bono hours during the school year, as these numbers determine award winners. For more information on reporting your pro bono hours, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
2016-17 Pro Bono Fellows
Each year, two pro bono fellows, sponsored by Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, coordinate AJP's activities. The 2016-17 fellows are Francesca Hoffmann, '17, and Jeff Soller, '18.
You may contact AJP at email@example.com. Please do not send us any confidential or personal information. AJP is not your lawyer, AJP does not represent anyone, and AJP cannot give you legal advice. If you are looking for free or low-cost legal representation, please visit Find a Legal Aid Provider.
Projects are another way for Indiana Law students to gain valuable practice experience with less of a time commitment than clinics, externships, and practicums. Projects are especially good opportunities for 1Ls because of their more limited scope and time commitment. Academic credit is not granted for participation in a project. For more information, visit the Projects page of the website.Local Pro Bono Opportunities
- District 10 Pro Bono Project (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Community Justice & Mediation Center
- Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA)
- Student Legal Services
There are many pro bono opportunities available for law students in the Bloomington area.
- Contact: Kristin Bishay, CASA Program Director, One City Centre, 120 W 7th Street, Suite 104, Bloomington, IN 47404.
- Type of work: A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a concerned volunteer appointed by the Juvenile Court to represent the best interest of an abused or neglected child. The appointment of CASA is governed by Indiana Law.
- What law students will do: Most CASA's will be assigned to only one case at a time. The amount of time required will depend on the individual case and the status of that case. A specific number of hours is not required. However, the CASA is expected to make the time commitment to provide the child with the necessary services.
- Time commitment: This typically ranges from three to five hours per week. We do require a one to two year commitment to the program after the volunteer completes the CASA training program.
- Contact: Blair Johnson, Clinic Coordinator; Jacob Atz, Admin Coordinator; 205 E. Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington, IN 47408, (812) 334-5728.
- Type of work: Provides legal assistance to the homeless and low-income communities through an intake service designed to translate client matters into legal issues for resolution by licensed area attorneys. Approximately one-third of cases are handled on-site by volunteer attorneys, one-third off-site through pro bono referrals, and one-third by law student volunteers with guidance from licensed attorneys. Currently, the clinic is open Friday afternoons from 12 to 3 p.m., but a second clinic day on Tuesday afternoons is possible in the near future.
- What law students will do: Volunteer work consists of both intake during clinic hours and case management outside clinic hours. Law students will:
- Work in a variety of civil and administrative law areas, including public housing, disability benefits (SSDI/SSI), food stamps, Medicaid, and family law;
- Collaborate with local attorneys on resolution of client matters (e.g. draft documents and correspondence, make phone calls, perform legal research, assist with benefits applications); and
- Work with social services agencies/benefits administrators on resolution of client matters (e.g. housing authorities, homeless shelters, state/federal benefits employees).
- Time Commitment: Attend mandatory training session and volunteer a minimum of 3 clinic sessions per semester, including casework follow-up outside of clinic hours.
Law Firm pro bono projects
We are also in the process of matching students with law firm pro bono projects.
The firm offers pro bono externships each year. Here are the details.
Opportunities with professors
Many professors will also often need help from law school students. These opportunities will be listed on Symplicity. Please log into your Symplicity account and follow the instructions below to access this listing.
How to access pro bono listings on Symplicity
- Log into your Symplicity account.
- Click on the “Jobs & Scholarships” tab in Symplicity.
- Under “Position Type,” select “Pro Bono.”
- Click on “Search.”
- Scroll down to see the list of opportunities.
- Equal Justice Works
- ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service
- Legal Services Corporation
- Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
- Brennan Center for Justice
- Public Interest Law Foundation
Loan reduction programs
The Law School provided limited post-graduation awards to public-interest-minded students. Learn more about these programs.
Equal Justice Works
What is the goal of Equal Justice Works?
The focus of Equal Justice Works is to fund entrepreneurial or “cutting edge” projects. How does it work?The student is responsible for developing a project idea and finding a host organization.
Criteria for evaluating a project
- The project must involve legal advocacy on behalf of disenfranchised individuals, groups, or issues not currently adequately represented by our legal system. It may involve direct service, outreach and education, or organizing direct service on any issue as long as the direct service is on behalf of an underserved population.
- The project must add some new component to the services already provided by the host organization.
- The project must address the legal needs of individuals or communities in the United States and its territories.
- Preference will be given to projects that are designed to impact a large number of people and/or create programs that can be replicated in other communities and create lasting institutions or programs.
Criteria for evaluating a host organization
- The organization MUST have been granted 501(c)(3) status by the Internal Revenue Service.
- The organization’s commitment and ability to provide training, support, and supervision throughout the course of the fellowship.
- How the project fits into the organization’s priorities.
- The organization’s commitment and ability to provide health insurance and other standard employee benefits to the Fellow during the course of the fellowship.
Criteria for evaluating candidates
- The candidate’s demonstrated or stated commitment to public interest law generally, and specifically to the community in which he or she is planning to work.
- The candidate’s professional, volunteer and/or subject matter expertise indicating that he or she possesses the relevant skills to make the project a success.
- The candidate’s commitment and ability to fulfill the two-year term required by the program
- The candidate’s ability to bring a diverse perspective to his or her project and the legal profession
- EJW Fellowships are designed to create NEW public interest legal positions and launch new public interest careers.
- Mid-September: Application due (check EJW website for official date)
- September-December: Semi-finalists selected and interviewed
- January-March: Fellowship (Host Organization Match Funding Option) offers extended on a rolling basis once matching funds are secured
- September: Fellowships begin
Past Recipient: Jeff Gold, Indiana Legal Services & Tenants Assistance Project Advisor
This program works to improve access to justice by increasing the availability of pro bono legal services nationwide to low-income clients. Supported by an AmeriCorps grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service, the program is a postgraduate opportunity to address gaps in legal services through pro bono management and direct legal services.
During their 11-month fellowships, each Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow recruits 100 volunteer law students and lawyers—and the amount of taxpayer dollars per client served is only $40. Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Fellows work to narrow the justice gap in many areas, including health care, public benefits, affordable housing, lost wages, protection orders and education.
A number of nonprofit organizations administer their own fellowships. The organization determines the salary, duration of the fellowship, and the scope of the fellow’s work within the organization. Candidates apply directly to the organization, and the organization usually chooses the fellow without outside assistance. The fellowship is basically a temporary job with the organization, typically designed for new law graduates or attorneys with little experience in the practice area. There is no expectation that the fellow will continue working with the organization when the fellowship ends. Indeed, unless a staff position opens or the organization is able to find additional funding to increase its staff, the fellow is unlikely to remain.
Organizations who usually offer fellowships
- Human Rights Watch
- The Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program
- Find many more in the Fellowship Corner of the PSLawNet website (www.pslawnet.org)
PMF is a competitive program that recruits law grads and those from other disciplines to work in executive branch agencies.
The purpose of the Program is to attract to the Federal service outstanding men and women from a variety of academic disciplines and career paths who have a clear interest in, and commitment to, excellence in the leadership and management of public policies and programs.
This rigorous two-year paid fellowship includes:
- Formal classroom training of 160 hours,
- Mandatory four to six month developmental assignment,
- Optional rotations of one to six months in duration,
- Challenging work assignments,
- Potential for accelerated promotions, and
- Opportunities to network with other future leaders.
The PMF selection process consists of four parts:
- Assessment and Finalist Selection
- Agency Placement as a Fellow
The Law Student Travel and Accommodations Reimbursement Program (L-STAR) is a national fundraising initiative that runs in conjunction with law school on-campus interviewing (OCI) programs. If a law student stays with family or friends instead of in a hotel during a callback interview, the interviewing law firm(s) agrees to donate $165 to that student's public interest funding organization. Many firms have also agreed to donate $35 for students who are able to forego transportation to and from the airport in the destination city.
By participating, law firms enjoy recognition for supporting public interest law at law schools across the country. Participating students can enjoy the fact that they are making it possible for their classmates to provide legal services to those most in need of the energy, dedication, and talent of law students. Each summer, L-STAR's member organizations fund over 120 law students working in volunteer and low-paying jobs with various non-profit and governmental agencies.