Pro Bono Program Student Newsletter

Pro Bono Program Student Newsletter: Monday, September 13, 2010

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

Poor People's Justice: Denying Access in Civil Cases
Thursday, September 16, 12 pm, Room 5046

The UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity and the UNC Pro Bono Program present a panel discussion on the difficulties of the poor in accessing the civil legal system, and what can be done to remedy this problem. It is widely estimated that 80% of the legal needs of the poor people in the U.S. go unmet. Unlike criminal cases, where poor defendants are appointed an attorney, there is no constitutional right to counsel in civil cases. The choices for someone facing the legal system without representation are bleak and few: represent oneself without legal expertise, or forgo legal claims entirely, sometimes with dire consequences. Speaking on this important topic will be:

  • Janet Ward Black, former President, North Carolina Bar Association and North Carolina Trial Lawyers Association
  • George Hausen, Executive Director, Legal Aid of North Carolina.

Gene Nichol, professor of law and director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, will moderate the discussion. A Q&A period will follow the presentations.

Booktalk: Professor Maxine Eichner on "The Supportive State: Families, Government, and America's Political Ideals"
Thursday, September 16, 4 pm, Boardroom

Professor Maxine Eichner will talk about her new book "The Supportive State: Families, Government, and America's Political Ideals,"just published by Oxford University Press. Light refreshments will be served. Please come help celebrate this accomplishment!

Public Interest Peer Mentor Program: Brown  Bag Lunch Meet-Up
Wednesday, September 22, 12 pm, Boardroom

Join fellow students in the Peer Mentor Program for the first event of the school year!  Come meet your mentor or mentee and other public interest students.  Bring your bag lunch, dessert will be provided.

Save the Date!

Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird
Thursday, October 28, 5:00 pm, Varsity Theater on Franklin Street

Join the Center for the Study of the American South for a screening of To Kill a Mockingbird at the Varsity Theater on Franklin Street (free with UNC One Card, $3 for general public) followed by a panel discussion with notable writers moderated by Professor Nichol. There will also be a reception to follow at the Ackland Art Museum (RSVP to requested).

"The Unfinished Work": Advancing New Strategies in the Struggle for Civil Rights
November 1-2, Friday Center for Continuing Education

Join the UNC Center for Civil Rights, its co-conveners and nation's most talented attorneys, advocates and scholars for a national conference dedicated to the life and career of civil rights pioneer, Julius L. Chambers. This two-day conference will unite practitioners, researchers, policymakers, community activists and students to examine the most promising strategies for pursuing equity and eliminating discrimination in public education, housing, democratic representation, employment and criminal justice. Issues in these areas remain at the forefront of today's civil rights struggle and while new trends in engagement, organizing and advocacy have shifted the ways we challenge racial and socioeconomic segregation and discrimination, the inequalities that these age-old problems create remain largely the same. The solutions to these debilitating issues are not simple, but they are possible to construct.

Join us as we analyze these issues and offer a range of innovative and strategic approaches for: applying the law , pursuing policy change, mobilizing well-informed grassroots activists, and encouraging the scholarly pursuit of public interest-oriented research.

Conference registration opens in mid-September. For conference updates and to join the conference mailing list, email or call 919.843.3921.

Safe Schools, Fair Schools: A Community Dialogue about School Suspensions in North Carolina

Friday, November 12, 8 am - 5 pm

Attend this one-day gathering of stakeholders concerned about out-of-school suspensions in North Carolina and their impact on students. Speakers will include Shay Bilchik of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University, Dan Losen of the UCLA Civil Rights Project, and many other juvenile justice advocates and practitioners. The event is sponsored by Advocates for Children's Services, a project of Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc., Action for Children, and the North Carolina Social Justice Project. Read more about the Summit here, including a schedule of speakers. Click here to register.

Other Public Interest Opportunities

NCBA Zoning, Planning & Land Use Section Seeks Student Fellow for Spring Semester

The Zoning, Planning & Land Use Section of the North Carolina Bar Association is accepting applications from 1L & 2L students for their fellowship program. The fellow will work 100-200 hours, most of which can be done remotely­, during the spring 2011 semester. Projects include working on the Section's newsletter, quarterly journal, CLE materials, etc. This is a great opportunity to interact with zoning and land use professionals and be exposed to current issues in the field. The selected student will be awarded a $2000 scholarship. Interested students should complete an application and submit it in PDF format to Dean Novinsky by October 15, 2010 at 5:00pm.

2010 Peggy Browning National Law Students Workers' Rights Conference

The Peggy Browning Fund will be holding its annual National Law Students Workers' Rights Conference on October 15-16, 2010 at the George Meany Center for Labor Studies in Silver Spring, Maryland. This is a tremendous opportunity for students interested in workers' rights. The Conference begins on Friday evening with a reception, dinner, film presentation and discussion. On Saturday, you will have the opportunity to attend workshops on all aspects of workers' rights and labor law. For more information and a registration form, visit the Fund's website.

UNC Law may select up to three students to attend the conference. Students interested in attending should have a demonstrated interest in either workers' rights issues or public interest law. Additionally, the Peggy Browning Fund will cover the conference fee, as well as on-site meals and lodging expenses, for one student from UNC Law (all students are responsible for a registration fee of $25 and transportation costs). The other two students will have to pay a conference fee and lodging expenses, in addition to the registration fee and transportation costs.

If you are interested in attending the conference, please contact Sylvia Novinsky, Assistant Dean for Public Service Programs, no later than Friday, September 17.

Law Student Writing Competition

As part of their conference "The Unfinished Work": Advancing New Strategies in the Struggle for Civil Rights in honor of Professor Julius L. Chambers, the UNC Center for Civil Rights invites all law students across North Carolina to compete in an innovative publishing project. Submissions should build on Professor Julius L. Chambers' body of work by discussing a current social justice struggle relevant to North Carolina. Papers may address any combination of legal issues relevant to the modern civil rights movement, including K-12 and higher education; housing and community development; criminal and racial justice; employment; voting rights; and/or economic justice.

Papers should original, unpublished works between 6-10 single spaced pages. The work should begin with a title page and must contain the title of the submission, the student's name, year, school and contact information including street address, phone number(s), and email address. To ensure a blind and impartial evaluation of all papers, writers should include personally identifying information (such as the writer's name or school) only on the submission's title page.Submissions are due via email to Adrienne Davis ( by 5:00 pm on Friday, October 15, 2010. For assistance in shaping a paper topic, students may contact the Center for Civil Rights' Community Development Fellow Peter Gilbert ( or Education Fellow Benita N. Jones (

Summer and Post-Graduate Employment Opportunities


Tips for Getting the Most from Equal Justice Works Career Fair

  1. Check job posting often between now and September 24! Employers will continue to be added until this date.
  2. Carefully read employer profiles before arriving. The employer listing WILL NOT be provided in this year's packet, so scout out potential employers to meet at Table Talk before you arrive.
  3. Do your homework on employers like you would for any job interview.
  4. Network! This is a great opportunity to meet people in the public interest law community.
  5. Stay informed by following Equal Justice Works on Facebook and Twitter for frequent updates leading up to the event.

The Equal Justice Works Career Fair is a great opportunity for students seeking summer or post-graduate employment in the public sector. This year's fair will be held on October 22-23 in Bethesda, Maryland. Students can register online. Though the deadline to bid is September 24, we encourage students to apply for positions of interest as soon as you can. If you have any questions about the Career Fair, process for bidding, or interviews, please contact Dean Novinsky.


  • Office of General Counsel, Department of Defense - Washington, DC
  • Clark County Public Defender - Las Vegas, NV
  • Earthjustice - Seattle, WA
  • Internship and fellowship opportunities, Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University - Arlington, VA

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

Current Pro Bono Opportunities

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

  • Drafting Town Ordinances - Smoking, Chapel Hill Police Department - Chapel Hill, NC
  • Driver's License Restoration Project, NC Office of Indigent Services - Chapel Hill, NC
  • Employment Law Case Support, Glenn, Mills, Fisher & Mahoney, P.A. - Durham, NC
  • Motion for Change of Venue Investigation, Fair Trial Initiative - Durham, NC
  • New Social Security Numbers for Victims of Domestic Violence, Southern Coalition for Social Justice - Durham, NC
  • Pretrial Advocacy Project, Orange Co. Public Defender - Carrboro, NC
  • Wills Clinics, Southern Coalition for Social Justice - Durham, NC

Public Service Resources

Starting the job search? 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. This resource will be updated soon. Access this resource.

Public Service News

Report on Foreign Language Interpretation Problems in the NC Court System
UNC Law students Emily Kirby, Sarah Long, and Sonal Raja, under the advisement of Professor Deborah Weissman, co-authored a report on issues related to foreign language translation in the NC Court System and possible solutions which was sent to the Department of Justice Civil Rights DivisionOne month later, the DOJ issued a strongly worded letter to all 50 state court administrators and chief justices advising them of Title VI obligations.  Much of the letter incorporates the issues and arguments we raised in our policy brief.  Read the report here and see the article about their work on NYU School of Law's  Brennan Center for Justice blog.

More People Forgo Lawyers, Represent Themselves
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports on the trend of self-representation and the effects on the court system.  Many judges around the country have seen this trend, which is causing concern with both efficiency and the execution of justice.  See the full article here

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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