Pro Bono Program Newsletter

Pro Bono Program Newsletter: Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Welcome to the Pro Bono Alumni Newsletter!

Greetings!

I'm Alexis Chappell, and I'm the Alumni Coordinator on the Pro Bono Board at Carolina Law. You have received this email because you showed interest in pro bono service while you were in law school at UNC, and we thought you would be interested in reconnecting with what's going on with the Pro Bono Program now. I will send you an email only once a month with an update about what we're doing and how you can get involved. Please feel free to email me at probonoalumni@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments. Please stop by our table during Law Alumni Weekend!

In This Issue

  • Learn about how the Pro Bono Program has expanded
  • Exciting pro bono trips to New Orleans and eastern North Carolina
  • Spotlight on Rachel Stevens, '04
  • Discover the many ways you can support pro bono at Carolina Law

Alumni News You Can Use

The Pro Bono Board, which was first created in 1997, now has eleven coordinators who work hard to facilitate stimulating and rewarding pro bono opportunities for the student body. Pro bono service is very much a part of everyday life at Carolina Law:

  • Last year, 122 students did pro bono over winter break
  • 15 student groups have completed pro bono projects
  • The class of 2009 completed over 10,454 hours of pro bono service

During 1L orientation this year, the Board created two entertaining videos to explain our Program to the 1Ls. We filmed one video for orientation, and naturally the dramatic follow-up was greatly anticipated. Students have already started working on pro bono projects this semester, and our interest meetings for the special trips to New Orleans and new License Revocation Pro Bono Project have been packed with excited students. Here are some of the initiatives we've been working on for this year:

Ongoing Pro Bono Opportunities

  • Project Homelessness Connect - Hosted at the Hargrave Center in Chapel Hill and coordinated by Legal Aid of Pittsboro and Disability Rights North Carolina to aid intake of claims from homeless individuals
  • Yellow Ribbon Project - JAG officers and alumni are leading a volunteer effort to provide legal services to our National Guard troops returning from Iraq
  • Driver's License Revocation Pro Bono Project - Indigent Defense Services and the ADA in Orange County are putting together a clinic to help people whose licenses are suspended because they have not paid fines. The clinic will focus on how to clear a driving record and fines.

Pro Bono Trips: Experiencing Our Education

Carolina Law was the first law school to travel to New Orleans to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, and this annual trip has expanded greatly. Check out the blog students contribute to while on the trip each year. In December 2008, twenty-two students drove to New Orleans immediately after their fall semester exams, where they worked with both long-time partner the Pro Bono Project and the Orleans Public Defender. Throughout the week, they assisted low-income clients in both family law and criminal matters.

<Picture of New Orleans Pro Bono Trip>

This past spring also marked the start of a spring break trip to eastern North Carolina, where nineteen law students worked with Legal Aid and UNC Center for Civil Rights attorneys in seven rural North Carolina counties, assisting in preparing Wills and Advanced Directives for low-income clients. They also kept a blog to document their experiences. This trip was such a resounding success that students now also have the opportunity to work on this project during both fall and spring break.

<Picture of Eastern North Carolina Pro Bono Trip>

Pro Bono In Action

UNC School of Law 2008-2009 Pro Bono Publico Alumna of the Year Award

Rachel Stevens, a 2004 graduate of UNC Law, is an associate at DLA Piper in New York City. In collaboration with Lawyers Alliance for New York, Rachel serves as DLA Piper's lead attorney for their Access to Education Project. Rachel and the attorneys that she coordinates provide representation to Head Start programs, which help ensure access to educational resources for over 250,000 children under age five in New York. Rachel also oversees the direct representation of public school students in special education matters, and she is currently assisting in drafting a white paper on the levels and effects of hunger among New York City public school children.

"Rachel embodies the spirit of pro bono," commented Linda Manley, legal director of Lawyers Alliance for New York. "While an associate at DLA Piper with the billable pressures that accompany such a position, she was determined from the start of her legal career that pro bono representation would play a major part of her work."

You can read more about Rachel and the other Pro Bono Publico Award winners in our annual report.

How You Can Support Pro Bono at UNC Law

The Pro Bono Program has come so far in a few short years, but we need your support to continue our mission. There are three ways that you can support the pro bono program at Carolina Law:

  1. Submit a project: Law students can help you with everything from research and writing to interviewing clients. When you submit a project, you can specify if you prefer a 2L or 3L to work, the time commitment, any specific skills required, etc. You can even submit a project online. Students can do projects both during the school year and over winter and spring breaks. If you have any questions, please email Lauren Felter, the Attorney Projects Coordinator, at uncprobonoprojects@gmail.com or consult our FAQ webpage.
  2. Supervise a student: Our trips to eastern North Carolina need attorneys to supervise law students' work; also, student organizations that do pro bono projects would love to connect with an attorney interested in providing assistance. Please contact Julie Zibulsky, the Group Projects Coordinator, at jzibulsky@gmail.com, if you're interested.
  3. Provide financial support: Finally, your financial support is incredibly beneficial to us. The support of our donors help us continue to allow students to come on pro bono trips at a very low cost to themselves, thus helping ensure that personal finance is no barrier to doing pro bono work. You can donate online (please select "Pro Bono Program").

I want to thank you for the pro bono work you completed while at Carolina Law, as you laid the foundation for exciting and rewarding pro bono opportunities for us. Please consider supporting the Pro Bono Program in any way that you can, and please don't hesitate to email me if you have any questions.

Go Heels,

Alexis Chappell
Alumni Coordinator
UNC Law Pro Bono Program
Students and Lawyers Making a Difference
http://www.law.unc.edu/studentlife/probono/