BU Law Sends Students Around the Country for Legal Experience

Students partner with 12 different organizations to provide pro bono legal services over spring break.

As an opportunity for Boston University School of Law students to serve communities in need and gain real-world legal experience, the Office of Career Development & Public Service continued its Spring Break Pro Bono Trip program. Now in its 12th year, some students traveled to Detroit, Michigan, Portland, Maine, and Harlingen, Texas, while others either remained in Boston or participated in programs in their hometowns. Students volunteered with organizations providing legal services ranging from housing law and public health to immigration.

Students on BU Law's 2017 Pro Bono Spring Break Trips
Clockwise from the left: BU Law students volunteering in Harlingen, TX, Portland, ME, and Detroit, MI. At the top right, Dan Mello (’18) and Kellie Desrochers (’19) stand with Rebecca Evans, a Michigan Legal Services client, at her home.

“This is really a tremendous opportunity both for students to develop their legal skills and serve communities in need,” says Carolyn Goodwin, director of public service and pro bono. “Whether or not they intend to pursue careers in the public interest or continue pro bono work while in private practice, it’s truly a great experience.”

Students partnered with attorneys at 12 different organizations over the break:

  • Catholic Charities Legal Services (New York, NY): Students aided attorneys in Catholic Charities’ Immigration Legal Services department with providing legal services for individuals in New York City, including representation in Immigration Court and administrative agencies.
  • Center for Law and Education (Boston, MA): The Center for Law and Education (CLE) strives to make the right of all students to quality education a reality and to help enable communities to address their own education problems effectively, with an emphasis on assistance to low-income students.
  • Court Service Center (Boston, MA): The Court Service Centers provide comprehensive legal assistance and access to resources for self-represented litigants (litigants without attorneys), including assistance with the completion of court forms, research on the public access computers, explaining court processes and procedures regarding a variety of legal matters including, family law, guardianship, and housing.
  • Florida International University’s NeighborhoodHELP Law Clinic (Miami, FL): The NeighborhoodHELP Program uses legal services to improve health and well-being at the individual, household, and population levels by addressing the social determinants of health.
  • Greater Boston Legal Services-Consumer Rights Unit (Boston, MA): Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) was founded in 1900, and provides free civil legal aid to low-income residents of Boston and 21 surrounding cities and towns. The Consumer Rights Unit at GBLS represents low and moderate-income clients in a variety of areas including foreclosure, debt collection, credit repair, consumer fraud and bankruptcy.
  • Juvenile Law Center (Philadelphia, PA): Juvenile Law Center uses an array of legal strategies and legislative advocacy to promote fairness, prevent harm, ensure access to appropriate services, and create opportunities for success for youth in the foster care and juvenile justice systems.
  • MFY Legal Services (New York, NY): MFY’s mission is to achieve social justice, prioritizing the needs of people who are low-income, disenfranchised, or have disabilities. They do this by providing high-quality direct civil legal assistance, providing community education, entering into partnerships, engaging in policy advocacy, and bringing impact litigation.
  • Michigan Legal Services (Detroit, MI): Students volunteering with Michigan Legal Services helped prevent tax foreclosures and evictions for low-income Detroit residents.
  • Pine Tree Legal Assistance (Portland, ME): Pine Tree Legal Assistance is a statewide civil legal aid program that serves low-income people in Maine. Pine Tree Legal Assistance is dedicated to ensuring that state and federal laws affecting poor people are enforced and to addressing the systemic barriers to justice that low-income Mainers face. Students conducted research on two topics: education laws and the intersection with low literacy, and property tax foreclosures in Maine.
  • ProBAR (Harlingen, TX): Students with the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR) provided pro bono legal services to asylum seekers detained in South Texas by the United States government.
  • Project Citizenship (Boston, MA): Students helped attorneys at Project Citizenship provide free, high-quality services to legal permanent residents to help them become US citizens.
  • Volunteer Lawyers Project (Boston, MA): Students assisted attorneys providing legal representation to indigent persons in civil matters, particularly in the areas of housing, bankruptcy, and family law.

Interested in helping students engage with pro bono projects? Please contact the Career Development & Public Service Office, or for more information about BU Law’s Pro Bono Program, email probono@bu.edu.

Reported by Matthew Fils-Aime (COM’17)

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