Pro Bono Program Newsletter

Pro Bono Program Newsletter: Thursday, September 16, 2010

Welcome to the Pro Bono Alumni Newsletter!

Greetings!

I'm Hilary Blackwood, 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.

In This Issue

  • Alumni News You Can Use: Look at these numbers!
  • 2010 Fall Kickoff: School's Back in Session
  • It's Been Five Years Since...
  • Discover the many ways you can support pro bono at Carolina Law!

Alumni News You Can Use

  • Last year 124 students did pro bono over Winter Break.
  • The Class of 2010 completed 10,769 hours.
  • Sixteen student organizations completed pro bono projects last year.
  • The race is on! The 2Ls and 3Ls are currently scrapping it out to determine the champion of pro bono participation. As it stands, 65% of the 3L class has engaged in pro bono, falling just short of the 2L class, which has a whopping 70% class participation.

Alumni All-Stars: The Pro Bono Program seeks to recognize outstanding alumni - those who consistently take the time to submit projects and work with our students. The Alumni All-Stars are those power players, our go-to guys and gals, who we can always count on for support. If you know someone who deserves to be among the first to receive this recognition, please e-mail me at probonoalumni@gmail.com.

Fall Kickoff: School's Back in Session

As a way to better "market" the importance of professional development from pro bono work - not only to the legal profession but also for each student's own development as an attorney - the 2010/2011 Pro Bono Board has implemented a new "symbols system ." The symbols designate the important legal skills developed within each project, including oral advocacy , client interaction , writing , and research . These symbols not only provide a checklist of the skill sets that each student should strive to experience by graduation, but they also act as an organizational system for the pro bono projects we receive.

As classes ramped up, students' summer pro bono hours came flooding in. The Pro Bono Board set up shop in the Rotunda, computers in hand, to encourage all passersby to stop in and log all their summer hours. During the first week of classes alone, 2Ls and 3Ls logged over 4,366 hours! What an amazing effort!


Carla Hermida ('12) shows a 2L how to log his hours

This week the UNC Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity and the UNC Law Pro Bono Program will be co-sponsoring a panel discussion entitled "Poor People's Justice: Denying Access in Civil Cases." The panel will feature Janet Ward Black, former President of the North Carolina Bar Association and North Carolina Trial Lawyers Association, and George Hausen, the Executive Director of Legal Aid of North Carolina. Gene Nichol, Professor of Law and the Director of the Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity, is moderating. After the discussion, students will have the opportunity to sign up for pro bono projects related to access to justice issues in North Carolina. The event will be held on Thursday, September 16, 2010, from 12:00-1:00 p.m., at the UNC School of Law in Room 5046.

It's Been Five Years Since...

When Hurricane Katrina came roaring into New Orleans, it caused one of the most catastrophic blows in U.S. history. In response to the great destruction and many legal needs arising from so many legal files being destroyed, UNC Law students rallied and the Pro Bono Program sent the first van full of law students to offer a helping hand. Our commitment to New Orleans remains strong, as the needs are still very much alive, particularly after the BP Oil Spill.

Students on the 2009 New Orleans Trip

We are in the process of thinking through how we can provide legal services to New Orleans in conjunction with the BP Oil Spill. Suggestions on how to help with relief when we travel to New Orleans over Winter Break would be greatly appreciated. Please send any ideas to probonoalumni@gmail.com.

The Pro Bono Program was invited to lead a roundtable discussion about students' experiences working in low-income and rural communities in the South. The event, entitled "Hurricane Katrina Five Years Later: A Humanities Focused Observance," took place on September 10th as part of a three-day series of storytelling events hosted by the Center for the Study of the American South. Six UNC Law students shared their experiences from their pro bono trips to New Orleans, Mississippi, and around rural North Carolina. "When reading a casebook, you rarely get to hear the story of the people involved," said 3L and discussion participant Merab Faulkner. "Pro bono allows us to gain legal experience, but it also gives us perspective on the humanity of each case. At the round table discussion, we all had a chance to talk about the faces behind the cases."

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 two general ways that you can support the pro bono program at Carolina Law:

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.

Provide financial support: Finally, your financial support is incredibly beneficial to us. The support of our donors helps 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").

More specifically, there are plenty of breaks in which we could use your attorney supervision and/or project donations. Check out the details below.

Fall Break

The UNC Pro Bono Program will be coordinating the second annual Fall Break Wills Project in conjunction with Legal Aid of North Carolina - Pittsboro and the UNC Center for Civil Rights. The project is scheduled for October 22 in Richmond County and October 23 in Moore County. The mission of the Wills Project is to address and educate low-income, rural North Carolina communities on issues of heirs' property and the importance and necessity of advance directives such as wills, powers of attorney, living wills, and health care powers of attorney.

This year, we're asking alumni to support the Fall Break Wills Project. We need supervising attorneys on both days to review documents and advise our students. Attorneys can sign up for as small as a two-hour supervisory time slot. Please contact me at probonoalumni@gmail.com if you can volunteer!

If you're interested in donating to the Fall Break Trip to subsidize the travel, food, and supply costs for 40 committed students, you may donate online. A little truly goes a long way! For example, a $20 donation will provide lunch for four students and $50 pays for one tank of gas, which carries seven students to the work sites. Please visit http://giving.unc.edu/gift/ . After selecting your method of payment, please select "School of Law" as the University Designation, "Other" as the University Fund, and then indicate "Pro Bono Discretionary Fund" in the box for Other Instructions below that.

To read more about our commitment to writing wills and advance directives for individuals who may otherwise be unable to afford these essential documents, check out our blog at http://wheretheresawillunc.wordpress.com/.

Winter Break

Take on a student assistant for pro bono work over Winter Break! The Winter Break Project Coordinators are seeking opportunities for students to work with attorneys and agencies in all types of pro bono experiences. Students and attorneys will both benefit from a project where a student can conduct legal research, draft documents, or gain courtroom or client interviewing skills. UNC Law students are highly focused on pro bono work during this break from academics, and they look forward to working with attorneys, especially UNC Law alumni, on these valuable real-world legal matters.

To discuss this and pro bono work you have in mind, please contact me at probonoalumni@gmail.com.


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. We hope to see you at Alumni Weekend on October 9th!

Go Heels,

Hilary

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