Pro Bono Program Student Newsletter

Pro Bono Program Student Newsletter: Monday, January 24, 2011

About the Pro Bono Newsletter

The Office of Public Service Programs is here to serve students who are pursuing a career in public interest law and provide opportunities for all students to engage in the School of Law's tradition of public service. Look out for the Public Service Newsletter each Monday for information about public service career opportunities, events, resources, news, and more. View past newsletters.

Events at UNC Law

1L Summer Job Information Fair
Tuesday, January 25, 11:45 a.m to 1:00 p.m., Rotunda

First-year students will have a chance to explore summer job options by talking with upper class students who have worked in a variety of settings, including small, medium and large law firms, corporations, prosecutors' offices, public defenders' offices, non-profit, federal government, state government, legal aid, judicial internships and more.

Free pizza for all 1L attendees.

Environmental Law Career Panel
Wednesday, January 26, 4:00 p.m to 5:30 p.m., Boardroom 5003

In collaboration with the Career Services Office, the UNC Environmental Law Project will host several practicing environmental law attorneys (including several UNC Law alumni) to talk with students and answer questions about career options within the field of environmental law and policy. Panelists will discuss their varied experiences in government, private sector, and public interest practice settings. The panel will include:

  • Geoff Gisler, Southern Environmental Law Center
  • Tom Terrell, Smith Moore Leatherwood LLC
  • Neil Stroud, Environmental Protection Agency
  • Brenda Menard, North Carolina Attorney General's Office, Land and Water Division

Coffee and snacks will be provided! (Please bring your coffee mug)

PLEASE RSVP at if you plan to attend.

Children's Rights Career Panel
Thursday, January 27, 12:00 p.m to 1:00 p.m., 4082

Join Child Action and the Career Services Office for a career panel featuring practitioners who work in a variety of areas involving representation of children or issues which affect children. Panelists include:

  • Iris Green, Disability Rights NC
  • Kari Hamel, Legal Aid of NC, Pittsboro
  • Christy Hamilton Malott, Durham Guardian ad Litem
  • Andrea Winters Morelos, Hedrick Murray
  • Eric Zogry, Office of the Juvenile Defender

Pizza will be served!

Public Interest Retreat
Friday, February 4, 1:00 p.m to 5:30 p.m., UNC School of Law

Mark your calendars for the Public Interest Retreat on February 4, 2011! The goals of the retreat are to connect law students to the local public interest community and to encourage community-building, to inspire students interested in public interest law to continue on the path to becoming public interest lawyers, and to reconnect students to the values and strengths that inspired their decisions to go to law school.

There will be a casual happy hour following the Retreat.

Sign up for the Public Interest Retreat now at:

Rebellious Lawyering Conference
February 18-20, Yale Law School

Reblaw brings together practitioners, law students, academics, and community activists from around the country to discuss progressive strategies for social change, both through legal action and beyond. This year's keynote speakers include Burt Neuborne, Graham Boyd, Laurie Rubiner, and Jose Padilla.

Please visit for more information. Also, check out the Rebellious Lawyering blog for information and updates about the conference:

Registration is now open on the website. When you register, you'll be able to sign up receive FREE HOUSING for the weekend in New Haven on the spare beds, couches and floors of local friendly, rebellious law students.

Questions? Please contact

Robert M. Cover Public Interest Law Retreat
March 4-6, Sargent Center, Peterborough, NH

The Retreat brings together public interest law students and practitioners for a weekend of networking and dialogue. This retreat was envisioned by Robert Cover, a Yale Law School Professor and social activist, in order to bring law students together with legal professionals and academics to build networks, to discuss the status of public interest law, and to learn more about what a public interest legal career is like. Find more information about the retreat at

Current Pro Bono Opportunities

Current Projects

Train to be a Guardian ad Litem!
This spring, the Guardian Ad Litem office in Orange/Chatham county will be hosting a training here at UNC Law for any student interested in becoming a Guardian ad Litem. A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is a trained community volunteer appointed by a district court judge to investigate and determine the needs of abused and neglected children who are involved with DSS. The GAL advocates for the child's best interest by making independent recommendations to the court related to the child's needs.

The required training to become a GAL is approximately 15-20 hours and will tentatively be held at UNC Law from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on February 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 14, and 17 (one of these dates will be removed). All trainings (aside from required in-court observation) will take place at UNC Law. Please contact Mary Irvine at for more information.

The Pro Bono Program will begin posting new projects soon - check the Pro Bono Board or website below for available projects then.

Projects are posted on the Pro Bono Board near the mailboxes and are listed online at Students can sign up for projects on the Pro Bono Board or email Lauren Felter at

Summer and Post-Graduate Employment Opportunities

New Postings for Summer Opportunities in the Job Bank

Check out the the postings frequently in the Job Bank for summer opportunities in states all across the US.

  • US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia - Alexandria, VA
  • NY Civil Liberties Union - New York, NY
  • New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice - Louisiana
  • James B. McMillan Public Service Summer Fellowships - Mecklenburg County, NC
  • Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University Internship in Disability Rights Law - Washington, DC
  • ...and more!

Spring On-Campus Interviews

Many public interest employers have already signed up to interview students on campus this spring for open summer internship positions. Log in to Symplicity for the full OCI schedule with deadlines and employers.

Summer Housing

If you are looking for housing this summer, The Association for Legal Career Professionals, also known as NALP, hosts a site for law students who are looking for a summer rental and/or renting their housing for the summer. Start searching here:

Check Symplicity regularly for both summer and post-graduation opportunities.

Summer Funding Opportunities

Apply for a Summer Grant

Each year several summer grants are awarded to students who are taking unpaid or low-paying summer public interest jobs. Funding for these grants comes from several sources including CPILO, funds established at the law school by generous donors, and student organizations that raise money for a grant to a student working in a particular interest area.

The deadline for applying for a summer grant is March 25, 2011 and students will be notified after that date. An information session will be held soon - look out for more information in the coming weeks.

To view and complete the Summer Grant Application visit My Carolina Law, click on the Student Life tab at the top of the page, and select the Summer Grants link. Be sure to check out 10 Tips for Writing a Strong Grant Application.

Contact Dean Novinsky or Dorsey Ballard for questions about grants.

Apply for the Goodwin Procter Public Interest Fellowships for Law Students of Color

Goodwin Procter has established the Goodwin Procter Public Interest Fellowships for Law Students of Color. These Fellowships will provide two first year law students of color with awards of $7,500 each, to help cover expenses from working in a public interest law position during the summer after the first year of law school. In addition, Goodwin has partnered with our client Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (the largest corporation domiciled in Massachusetts) to provide a third fellowship award, the MassMutual/Goodwin Public Interest Fellowship for Law Students of Color.

In addition to the $7,500 award for work in a public interest law position during the summer after the first year of law school, students will also receive a guaranteed callback interview with a Goodwin Procter office during the fall interview season after the student's first year of law school, to allow the student to be considered for a position in the Summer Associate Program during the summer after the student's second year of law school.

For more information about the program and eligibility, visit Applications must be received by February 25, 2011 to be considered.

Apply for the 2011 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Fellowship and the Entrepreneurial Public Service Fellowship

The Carolina Center for Public Service awards summer fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students to support innovative public service and engagement projects in North Carolina and throughout the world. Fellowships are $3,000 each and the deadline is in late January. To learn more about the Robert E. Bryan Public Service Fellowship and the UNC Entrepreneurial Public Service Fellowship, please visit Applications are due by January 28, 2011, THIS FRIDAY!

Public Service News

Republican Study Committee Announces Proposed Spending Cuts

The Republican Study Committee released its proposal for spending cuts last week which would bring domestic agency spending down to 2006 levels, a $175 billion cut. The study committee proposed eliminating several programs outright including the Legal Services Corporation, which provides legal services to people who cannot afford a lawyer. For more information on the proposals see the AP coverage and a Washington Post article.

Push to Repeal the Death Penalty in Illinois

On January 11, the Illinois Senate passed a repeal measure by a 35-22 vote, five days after the state house approved the measure, 60-54. Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, is now weighing whether to sign or veto the bill. For the last decade, Illinois has had a moratorium on the death penalty, imposed in 2000 by former Governor George Ryan. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have already ended capital punishment. Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Maryland and Montana are among those that have considered repeal in the past year or still are reviewing it, according to abolition advocates. The AP article gives the perspectives of citizens on either side of the debate. See further commentary on the repeal in the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, and the Peoria Journal Star.

Public Service Resources

Cover Letter Tips and Best Practices

from PSLawNet blog

As you look for summer jobs or post-graduate employment in the public sector, keep in mind that your cover letter is the main avenue by which your potential employer will be able to get to know you, your reasons for applying for the job and committing to the particular field of work, and why they should hire you.

The first, most important, universal tip is that law students should immediately schedule an appointment in their career services or public interest advising office.

Five Tips for Public Interest Cover Letters

  1. A cover letter is a "living document," which means that each letter must be tailored to specific employers. An employer is usually able to identify a form letter by the end of the first paragraph.
  2. A cover letter should almost always be one page. The chief exception may be if you have a wealth of experience related to a particular employment opportunity, and if the job listing for that opportunity is so fleshed out that you need more than a page to convey your qualifications.
  3. A cover letter is a complement to the resume, not simply a reformatted version of the resume. The letter gives you a chance to express your passion directly to the employer in a slightly less formal manner than a resume; it gives you a chance to say not only what your credentials are, but a) why your credentials will enable to you to do that job, and b) why you want that job. A personal commitment to an organization and/or its mission is a chief criterion used by almost all public interest employers in evaluating job candidates. One cover letter format to consider is as follows:
    • Paragraph One: Who I am and, in short, why I want the job;
    • Paragraph Two: What I bring to the job by way of experience, interest, and credentials;
    • Paragraph Three: Fleshed out explanation of why I want the job - an expression of my passion for the employer organization and/or the work.
  4. Use the qualifications listed in the job description as prompts for points to hit about your experience/credentials.
  5. Have someone - a career counselor, classmate, friend, etc. - proofread your cover letters. We are always our own worst editors and proofreaders, so don't rely on yourself to do it.

Bonus Tip: Follow application instructions to the letter.

See the full article on the PSLawNet blog.

Check out the Public Interest Job Search Guide!

The Public Interest Job Search Guide provides practical advice on how to conduct your job or summer internship search, a suggested timeline for all students, a list of resources, and information about public interest law organizations. Access this resource.

To add items or provide feedback, please contact Sylvia Novinsky, Assistant Dean for Public Service Programs, or Mary Irvine, Public Service Fellow.

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