Pro Bono Practice and Access to Justice Externship - Spring 2018
Marlene Halpern and Laren Spirer, Lecturers-in-Law (2 graded academic and 2 ungraded fieldwork credits)
NOTE - This course does not satisfy the Professional Responsibility nor the Pro Bono requirements for students in the Juris Doctor program. It will meet the 50-hour pro bono requirement for admission to the New York Bar.
Students in the Externship on Pro Bono Practice and Access to Justice have the opportunity to examine and analyze the role of pro bono service by corporate lawyers on broader societal issues such as access to equal justice and social transformation in the US and abroad and on the legal profession as a whole. The class offers an excellent view of the breadth and depth of practice in the legal field, from the private bar to the NGO and legal services world, through the pro bono lens.
Pro bono service increasingly is regarded as an important component of civil legal services for underserved populations and of lawyers’ professional responsibility. Lawyers and bar associations around the world have begun to explore how to adapt the US model of pro bono service to their legal, social and political cultures. To be successful, pro bono practice and design must mediate between interests of various constituencies. Pro bono service also should be evaluated against alternatives such as government funding for full time legal services lawyers and the expansion of the legal services that non-lawyers are authorized to perform.
Through a weekly seminar and a field placement, the Externship on Pro Bono Practice and Access to Justice encourages students learn about the constituencies, their goals, and the resulting strengths and tensions. Students also focus on specific innovative and sustainable pro bono practices, as well as alternatives to pro bono, and think about their own post-graduate roles. This inquiry will culminate in the development of a concept paper for a project that the student designs.
Concept Paper and Evaluation
Each student writes a concept paper of about 20 pages for either (1) a pro bono project designed to initiate or increase pro bono service that the author would execute at a law firm or NGO at which he or she expects to work after graduation, or (2) an alternative means to expand legal services for currently underrepresented persons or issues, including a discussion of why it is preferable to the initiation or expansion of pro bono.
Students are evaluated based on their concept papers and seminar participation. The 2 clinical credits will be graded credit/no credit.
Admission to the Course
The course is open to J.D. candidates and LL.M students. Enrollment limited to 10 students. Admission to the course is by permission of the instructor. To apply, please send your resume and a statement of interest by Noon on October 30, 2017 to Laren.Spirer@law.columbia.edu and to email@example.com