There are a number of ways for students to get involved in the Pro Bono Program while at Carolina Law. These are some of the main avenues through which students complete pro bono projects.
The Pro Bono Board actively solicits pro bono projects from attorneys and organizations interested in student assistance throughout the year. Once projects have been submitted, the Attorney Projects Coordinator will post project sign up forms on the bulletin board near the students’ lockers. Projects will vary in the type of work to be completed, the time commitment expected, and the location where work should be completed. Students will be able to find this information, as well as a brief description of each project, on the sign up forms.
Once students have committed to a project, the Attorney Projects Coordinator will email them with the contact information for their supervising attorney. Participating students get in touch with their supervising attorney to coordinate the details and expectations of their particular project. Class Coordinators will also communicate with participating students to check in on the progress of their respective projects and get feedback on their experiences.
Winter and Spring Break Projects
Winter Break projects allow students to work individually with attorneys during their longest break in the academic year. The Pro Bono Board works to find projects in a variety of different substantive areas and throughout the state and nation. Then, in November, students have the opportunity to sign up for their projects. Every year, nearly 100 UNC law students commit to complete pro bono work during their Winter Break.
In the past, students have worked with the Federal Public Defender's office, participated in animal right's and environmental litigation, assisted in pro bono projects taken on by private attorneys, and provided critical research on topics ranging from post-conviction appeals to consumer law to education policy. Winter Break is a great time for Pro Bono.
The Special Trips program organizes pro bono trips for students during winter break and spring break. During winter break, the Special Trips program organizes trips to address the specific legal needs of communities within North Carolina. In the spring, the Special Trips program organizes two wills trips to Eastern and Western North Carolina. Spring break trip participants draft wills, advance directives, powers of attorney and health care powers of attorney for low-income senior citizens as a means of addressing the issue of Heirs Property. For more information about past wills trips, please visit the wills project blog.
Group projects are supported and created by student organizations. These projects offer opportunities for students to interact and engage in pro bono projects related to their specific interest areas. Students work with attorneys and organizations to create and support pro bono opportunities on issues ranging from criminal law to environmental law. For example, the Immigration Lawyers Association often works with organizations and attorneys in the area to present “Know Your Rights” presentations on various areas of immigration law. These student organization projects provide a great opportunity for students to get involved and engaged in pro bono at UNC Law.
Develop Your Own Project
If students cannot find an existing project that suits them, or if they discover an unmet legal need that a new pro bono project could address, the Pro Bono Program encourages them to start their own project. The Program can also help to connect students with supervising attorneys, organizations, community partners, and other students who will help make the project a success. To begin this process, we encourage students to fill out the DIY Pro Bono Project Form.