Pre-Approved Pro Bono Projects

The Pro Bono Department works diligently to offer pro bono opportunities each semester, and during school breaks. To view a list of the projects with additional details, log in at PB Track.

Students wishing to request projects must submit preferences via PB Track.

Spring 2016 projects

  • ACLU Jails Project: The ACLU Jails Project is seeking law student volunteers to assist with monitoring in Men’s Central Jail and Twin Towers in downtown LA.  If an inmate is identified as having been involved in violence that may support ACLU litigation, the volunteer will have the opportunity to call out the inmate to the attorney room for a statement, and a declaration will be prepared.
  • Affordable Care Act—Case Law Review for Protected Classes: Justice in Aging, based in Los Angeles, is interested in how courts and agencies have examined the intersection of age and other protected classes in the ACA Section 1557 context. If few cases exist, a review of secondary sources and administrative complaints would also be helpful.
  • Animal Legal Defense Project:  The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is dedicated to protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals. Student volunteers are needed to research and develop litigation strategies related to industrial animal agriculture’s pollution of surface and groundwater, with a focus on the negative impact on the availability of clean drinking water, particularly for rural, poor communities.
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA Nail Salon Workers Legislation Research Assistant: The student volunteer will work closely with AAAJ’s impact litigation staff attorneys to conduct important legal and policy research regarding potential legislation to protect nail salon workers in California. The student will be expected to produce written memorandum analyzing and summarizing the results of his or her research at the close of the semester. 
  • Bankruptcy Applications: Students are needed to assist self-represented debtors to complete and file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. Students will review the debtor’s eligibility for bankruptcy, collect the required paperwork and complete the debtor’s Chapter 7 petition. All work will be conducted under the supervision of bankruptcy attorneys from Irell & Manella LLP, on cases referred by the Public Law Center.
  • Bankruptcy Courthouse Volunteer: Students are needed to volunteer every Wednesday at the Bankruptcy clinic at the Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana.  Volunteers will meet with pro se litigants, and provide advice on filing bankruptcy forms.  All student advice will be under the supervision of attorneys of the Public Law Center. 
  • Bet Tzedek Intake Services: Bet Tzedek Legal Services is one of the top legal service organizations in the country.  Students are needed to assist with intakes, which involve interviewing clients, both in-person and over the phone, regarding their legal issues. 
  • Bet Tzedek Law Clerk:  Volunteers will work in the office in one of the many direct service or impact litigation units.  Opportunities exist to work on issues related to Holocaust Survivors, Consumer Protection, Low-Income Tax Advocacy, Housing Conditions, Employment Rights, Family/Caretaker, Elder Law, and Impact Litigation.
  • Camp Pendleton Legal Assistance Office (LAO):  Students will provide legal assistance to military officers, enlisted service members, and their families in the areas of family law, consumer law, estate planning, and various other issues.  Supervision will be provided by legal assistance attorneys.  Students may also observe Court Martials when time permits.  
  • CARES—Connecting Angelenos to Resources and Essential Services:  Public Counsel hosts this project, which takes place at Department of Public Social Services (“DPSS”) offices in Los Angeles County.  Students assist clients with emergency benefits advocacy, particularly relating to shelter, food, health, transportation, and other social service needs, advocating for homeless individuals to receive shelter, and assist indigent individuals in obtaining food and nutrition. 
  • Clemency Project:  President Obama pledged to commute the sentences of many non-violent offenders whose sentences would be less under current law and policy.  There is a great urgency to review several thousand remaining inmates with potential cases.  Student will review pre-sentence reports to determine which ones should move forward in the process under the supervision of local attorneys or faculty members.  Students will prepare memos summarizing the case and its viability for clemency. 
  • Conservatorship Project—Courthouse Volunteers:  Bet Tzedek Legal Services provides assistance to low income families, who are seeking limited Conservatorships of their developmentally deisabled children in order to make important legal decisions on their behalf.  Without a conservatorship, these decisions default to the government.  Students are needed to assist at weekly clinics. 
  • Consumer Law Project:  Students will assist low income clients of Public Counsel, who have been victims of consumer fraud, by conducing detailed phone interviews and developing thorough case profiles and document development.  Examples of the types of cases include: assisting elderly clients defrauded by their caregivers; helping clients get back title to their homes; pursuing unscrupulous car dealers; and holding banks accountable for wrongful foreclosure.
  • Criminal Law Projects
    • Alternate Public Defender’s Office:  The “Alt PD” is a smaller unit of the Orange County Public Defender’s Office, taking on cases that the main PD’s office cannot take, often due to conflicts.  Two student volunteers will work under the supervision of attorney Derek Bercher.  Volunteers will have the opportunity to work on defense cases, doing research as well as direct legal assistance.  Students will have the opportunity to accompany lawyers to hearings to observe.
    • District Attorney’s Office: Students interested in criminal prosecution will get hands-on experience with the District Attorney’s office in Santa Ana.  Once accepted, the student volunteer will be assigned to a unit where experiences vary widely.  Students may get significant exposure to issues of evidence and criminal procedure while observing in court, researching and writing, and possibly assisting with preparation for in-court appearances by a Deputy District Attorney.
    • Federal Public Defender’s Office:  Student volunteers will assist trial and capital habeas attorneys with the Federal Public Defender's Office.  Work will include researching and drafting memorandums regarding legal questions related to active cases as well as drafting motions, social histories and sentencing positions, among other court filings.  Volunteers may also be asked to visit the jail to meet with defendants for interviews.
  • Disabled and Elderly Benefits (SSI)>—Monthly Intake Clinic: This is the opportunity to help some of the most vulnerable members of the community.  Volunteers work to secure Social Security Income (SSI) benefits for elderly and disabled clients, which ensure that a recipient’'s most basic needs are met through a living stipend and medical benefits. Student will volunteer with the Legal Aid Society of Orange County under the supervision of attorney Bill Wise at once-monthly clinics.
  • Domestic Violence Clinic—Long Beach: The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) is in need of volunteers to staff the Domestic Violence Clinic in the Long Beach Superior Court. Students will get hands on experience working with survivors of domestic violence in restraining order and other family law proceedings. Students will assist with document preparation and writing client declarations.
  • Domestic Violence Declarations:  Students will assist self-represented victims of domestic violence to prepare declarations for their Temporary Restraining Orders.  Students will conduct an interview, and immediately prepare a declaration.  Supervision will be provided by attorney volunteers, coordinated by Public Law Center.
  • Education Policy Research with Public Advocates:  Student volunteers will research and provide a memo regarding a current education issue, supervised by attorney Rigel Massaro of Public Advocates.  Student research will be used to help advocate for reforms in many areas including changes in laws and/or implementation, school district support, addressing school district violations, and much more.
  • Education Rights Project: UCI Law students work to educate Orange County public school parents about educational services that their students may be legally entitled to under federal law. Volunteers will attend Know-Your-Rights workshops for families throughout Orange County, which are immediately followed by one-on-one intakes with parents.
  • Education Rights—In Office Volunteers:  The Learning Rights Law Center (LRLC) represents families with children whose educational needs are not being met, usually children with disabilities requiring special education. Volunteer students will be trained and supervised by Samantha Cochran, Director of Pro Bono and Brief Services, to assist with intakes.
  • Elder Abuse Restraining Orders:  Volunteers are needed to help protect seniors and dependent adults from abuse and neglect, which often includes financial abuse and other legally complicated issues.  Students will interview litigants and prepare declarations and the required court forms.  Attorneys from O’Melveny and Myers LLP will provide direct supervision with oversight by the Legal Aid Society of Orange County.
  • Esperanza Criminal-Immigration Law Research: Esperanza works exclusively with immigrants held in custody—both adults and children. Student volunteers will research updates in Criminal-Immigration law for the Legal Orientation Program (“LOP”) to be used during information sessions for detainees.  Student volunteers will research and identify the immigration court’s reevaluation of deportable and inadmissible crimes in California in light of recent 9th Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
  • Eviction Defense Project:  The Legal Aid Society of Orange County’s weekly Eviction Clinic is supervised by Jamie Sanderson (’14).  Alternatively, students can do ongoing casework such as drafting Answers, compiling discovery, preparing trial briefs, settlement negotiations, or even take a case from start to finish.  Case work will be supervised by Ian Kasoff and Crystal Sims of LASOC.    
  • Expungement Project—Orange County Clean Slate Clinic:  Expungements allow individuals that have completed their sentence to dismiss certain criminal convictions if particular requirements are met, allowing them to move on with their lives, and seek jobs that would otherwise not be available.  The Clean Slate Clinic was created by UCI Law students under the supervision of attorney Dan Cornelious, and is hosted at the Legal Aid Society of Orange County. 
  • Family Law at Public Law Center:  Work with attorney Yesenia Melgar of PLC on a variety of family law issues for low-income clients. Assist with intake and prepare for various clinics (domestic violence and guardianship for children).  Students may also assist with a small case load of custody, visitation, and dissolution for victims of domestic violence cases. 
  • Foster Care Research—Rights of Detained Immigrant Parents:  Students will work under the supervision of attorney Jordan Cunnings of Public Counsel to provide research on the rights of immigrant detainees to attend dependency court hearings.  These detained parents are attempting to participate in ongoing family and dependency court cases, where they risk losing custody of their children.
  • Haiti Human Rights Initiative:  The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) helps victims of human rights violations document abuse, distribute accurate information on human rights conditions, and pursue cases in national and international courts.  Two student volunteers are needed to help with legal research and writing, possibly helping with a lawsuit currently before the 2nd Circuit against the United Nations for their gross negligence in spreading cholera in Haiti.
  • Health Consumer Action Center:  This is a specialized unit of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (“LASOC”) involved with policy advocacy and assisting low-income clients in Orange County to access health care and solve serious issues clients may have with their medical insurance.  Students will immediately begin speaking with clients, interviewing them to get additional information and determine their health care related issues.
  • Health Law Intakes for HIV/AIDS, Cancer and Children’s Hospital Patients: A student volunteer will work under the supervision of Sarah Efthimiyou, attorney at the Public Law Center, to conduct in-person intakes with clients who are suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, mental health issues, or may have been referred by CHOC Children’s Hospital.  A formal write-up will be submitted for each intake and reviewed by an attorney.
  • Hotel/Food Service Worker Project—Union Labor Work: UNITE HERE represents hotel workers throughout Southern California, many of them immigrants and women of color.  Students may represent members in grievance and arbitration proceedings, file and present unfair labor practice charges to the NLRB, assist with legal strategy in support of organizing and contract campaigns, and protect members’ free speech rights at Union actions and picket lines.
  • Housing and Communities Workgroup—Affordable Housing Research:  The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) uses a community lawyering model to improve the housing situation for its client communities.  A volunteer will help promote affordable housing by researching Los Angeles’s current affordability crisis.  Analyze research and reports that are currently available and identify additional points of research that should be pursued.
  • Housing Litigation—Costa Mesa Motel Suit:  Student volunteers will assist with an active litigation case of the Public Law Center.  The City of Costa Mesa passed an ordinance prohibiting people from staying in motels long-term, but the Court recently entered an injunction.  PLC is seeking to protect individuals and families who rely on low income motels as a last option before becoming homeless.  Students will work on many aspects of the litigation, including research, discovery, and drafting pleadings.
  • Immigrants’ Rights Project with Public Counsel: A volunteer will conduct regular intake interviews with asylum-seekers from many different countries, making recommendations as to the viability of their asylum claims, and assisting in the placement of these cases with pro bono attorneys.  The student will also conduct legal research and research of human rights conditions in the clients’ home countries.
  • Immigration Applications for Undocumented Student Travel Abroad:  Student volunteers are needed to assist UCI undergraduates, who are undocumented and known as “DREAMers.”  The DREAMers are now applying for Advance Parole (AP), which is necessary for those with DACA to travel outside of the United States.  The DREAMers will be traveling as part of a study abroad program.  Volunteers will work in pairs under the supervision of attorneys from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP.
  • Immigration Court Watch Program:  Law student volunteers will have the opportunity to protect the due process rights of individuals currently in immigration proceedings by observing immigration court hearings and documenting any irregularities or abuses.
  • Innocence Appeal Research: Attorney Annee Della Donna is in need of student volunteers to assist in preparing an Amicus Brief and beginning a Writ of Habeas Corpus.  The project involves two men who were convicted for allegedly firing a gun in the air near a house where 11 people were living.  The key witness has recanted.  Research will involve case law discussing the theory of the “kill zone.”
  • Innocence Project Collaboration:  The California Innocence Project (CIP) is dedicated to releasing wrongfully convicted inmates.  Students will assist CIP in reviewing inmate requests under the supervision of attorneys from K&L Gates LLP. Students will research and investigate requests from inmates, culminating with the writing of a recommendation memo to be submitted to CIP.
  • International Refugee Assistance Project:  IRAP’s work includes legal assistance for refugees seeking resettlement from abroad, policy advocacy to improve U.S. policy toward the refugee crisis, and direct assistance to ease the transition of newly resettled refugees to American life.  Students will work in pairs under the supervision of attorneys from several firms, including  Irell & Manella LLP; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP; Hueston Hennigan LLP; Microsoft; Jones Day; Payne & Fears LLP; Sheppard, Mullin, Richter, and Hampton LLP; and R & S Law Group LLP.
  • Korean Legal Services and Outreach/Litigation Unit:  Volunteers will assist Attorney Deborah Lee of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC) to provide civil legal assistance for eligible clients, usually Korean speakers. The type of matters LASOC handles includes health-related cases including Medi-Cal and insurance qualifications, medical billing issues, family law, housing and landlord/tenant issues, government benefits and consumer problems.
  • Litigation Assistance:  Attorneys from Irell & Manella LLP are working on several pro bono litigation matters.  One student volunteer will work on any and all cases in need of assistance.  Work may include any of the following:  Legal research and memo writing, discovery, drafting pleadings, or even observing a hearing.  Students should be interested in learning about the litigation process, and also be flexible about the needs of the firm for such pro bono assistance.
  • Litigation Services for the Poor:  Yolanda Omana of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County provides years of litigation experience over diverse areas of law. Volunteers will have the opportunity to work in landlord-tenant, family law, tax, and many other areas of law. Students can conduct intakes with potential clients and work with attorneys to render legal advice, or may work on discrete research projects.
  • Long Beach Medical Legal Partnership for Children and Families:  Students under attorney supervision from the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles may conduct client intakes and interviews, analyze and assess client needs, determine legal assistance needed, conduct legal research and prepare legal documents, attend administrative and court proceedings, and develop resource and educational materials for clients.
  • Medicaid Consumer Protection Survey:  Doctors sometimes charge Medicaid patients for services, which are covered by Medicaid. Depending upon the state, this type of billing may be in violation of state Medicaid law, which exist to protect poor individuals that cannot afford services. Students are needed to participate in a 50-state survey, reviewing billing protections for Medicaid beneficiaries.  Volunteers will be supervised by Denny Chan (’12) of Justice in Aging.
  • NAACP Legal Defense Fund Hot Topics Research:  Student volunteers are needed to work with attorneys from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP to prepare regular reports for LDF on “hot topic” cases.  Student volunteers will run searches, review results, and summarize cases for a memo to be prepared by Orrick and submitted to LDF. 
  • Pleadings Templates for Legal Aid Litigation: The Litigation unit of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC) would like to develop a bank of motion templates.  Under the supervision of attorney Renato Izquieta, student volunteers will research a variety of pleadings and motions to develop a bank of templates in areas of law commonly faced by low income clients.
  • Poverty Law Clinics with Christian Legal Aid of Los Angeles:  Students can participate in monthly clinics hosted at various sites in Los Angeles County.  Attorney supervision will be provided by the Christian Legal Aid of LA and volunteer attorneys.  During clinics, students may observe and support volunteer attorneys, or may be permitted to conduct interviews. 
  • Reproductive Justice Research:  Student volunteers will work under the supervision of attorney Rebecca Marlin of Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ).  Many research opportunities are available, including in the areas of legal analysis of legislative proposals; healthcare facility licensure; legal aspects of public education; constitutional issues; domestic and international surveys and comparative analyses of rights and laws.
  • Saturday Academy of Law (SAL):  Law students teach a lesson each week as part of a pipeline program aimed at 9th graders from Santa Ana Unified School District.  Volunteers teach lessons on the First Amendment, briefing a case, the U.S. court system, and recent constitutional challenges that have made an impact on society.
  • Self Help Centers in Long Beach, Inglewood, or Torrance:  The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) is in need of volunteers to staff the self-help center at one of its three Superior Courthouse locations.  Students will get experience with individuals that are representing themselves in legal actions in a variety of areas from eviction defense to family law.
  • Senior Citizen Legal Advocacy Program:  Assist Bill Wise, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, with numerous issues affecting senior citizens, including Social Security, elder abuse, family law, property, homeowners associations, consumer fraud, collections, and bankruptcy.
  • Tax Advocacy for Low-Income Taxpayers:  Each student will be responsible for developing his or her own case, working with the IRS, and potentially arguing in U.S. Tax Court under the supervision of Renato Izquieta of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County. Cases will be varied and may involve such issues as innocent spouse relief for victims of domestic violence, small business deductions, or bankruptcy.
  • Transactional and Corporate Law Project:  Students will work with Sarah Efthymiou of the Public Law Center. Cases tend to be transactional in nature, assisting non-profits and sometimes small businesses in Orange County.  Needs vary, and may include the following:  Intellectual Property matters such as copyright and trademark requests for non-profit organizations or small businesses; review of a non-profit’s website; non-profit formation; or employment issues.
  • Transgender Legal Name and Gender Change Project:  Students launched a new project to serve the legal needs of the transgender population in Orange County.  Students partner with volunteer attorneys to assist clients with applications for name change and identity marker changes.  The project serves clients of the Orange County Gay and Lesbian Community Center (The Center) in Santa Ana.
  • Unaccompanied Minors Project at the Public Law Center:  The Public Law Center serves children that have fled poverty-stricken and war-torn areas of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras for a chance at a better life.  The children were detained by Immigration (ICE), and then released to family members in Orange County.  The children have usually been abandoned or neglected by one or both parents and/or have been the target of gang violence.  Students will meet and interact with clients, prepare forms and pleadings, investigate and research issues and generally assist with this caseload.
  • VA Benefits Project:  Students will assist Veterans seeking relief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans benefit claims. The project will be supervised by Sean Twomey of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP.  UCI Law students will be handling these cases through appeal, including briefing legal issues for the Court.
  • Veterans Legal Institute:  Students will assist with research and writing, discharge upgrades, veteran’s benefits, and other issues related to military and civil law for homeless, at risk, disabled and low income current and former service members.  Volunteers will be supervised by Dwight Stirling, VLI co-founder.
  • Veterans Benefits Appeals with PLC: Help low income Veterans appeal the denial of their Veterans Administration benefits.  Appeals occur within the VA system (rather than at the Court of Appeals). The student volunteer will review the veteran’s file, meet with the client, investigate and research any potential issues, put together an advocacy brief with supporting evidence and submit the package to the VA under the supervision of a Public Law Center VA-accredited attorney.
  • Victims of Crime Special Visas (U-Visa):  Students will work in pairs and will be supervised by attorneys from either Snell & Wilmer LLP or McDermott Will & Emery LLP in preparing U-Visa requests for victims of crime, which are referred by the Public Law Center.  Most clients are women and children that have suffered physical or sexual abuse, and are assisting law enforcement with the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrator.  U-Visas help to protect clients from ongoing abuse by the perpetrator, who often uses a client’s undocumented status as a threat, resulting in ongoing mental abuse.
  • Wage Justice Center Projects:  The Wage Justice Center assists exploited workers from highly unscrupulous business activity that is rampant in the underground worker economy. Volunteers have two opportunities:  1) Assist at the WJC office preparing Judicial Council forms, client intake, research, and assistance on ongoing matters; 2) Conduct research remotely on issues of Judgment enforcement; wage theft cases; and fraud by employer, among others.
  • Worker Education and Wage Theft Clinic: Volunteers will work in pairs to conduct outreach at day labor corners in Orange County, meet with workers to conduct intakes, analyze the strength of cases, and prepare legal documents such as demand letters, lien recording documents, and civil complaints.  Students will be supervised by attorney Renee Amador (’14) of the Wage Justice Center.
  • Workers’ Rights Clinic Orange County:  Student volunteers will participate in employment law intake clinics for low-income workers in a wide range of areas, including discrimination/harassment, wage and hour, unemployment benefits, and wrongful termination.  Mike Gaitley of the Legal Aid Society—Employment Law Center, based in San Francisco, will regularly travel to Orange County to provide training and supervision.
  • Workers’ Rights Project with Bet Tzedek:  Bet Tzedek Legal Services is based in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, and represents low-wage workers, regardless of immigration status, who are asserting claims for unpaid wages and unlawful working conditions.  Volunteers will interview potential clients at walk-in clinics.
  • Youth Health Care and Education Policy Research:  Young Invincibles is a national organization, founded by law students in 2009, to mobilize and expand opportunities for young Americans between 18 and 34 years of age on issues like higher education, health care, and jobs.  Two law student volunteers are needed to research issues related to health care and higher education.