Pre-Approved Pro Bono Projects
The following projects are offered through the Pro Bono Program throughout the Spring 2013 semester:
- Projects not included on this list: Students are strongly encouraged to create their own pro bono opportunities. Students should contact Anna Davis or Katie Rohner to discuss projects eligible for pro bono credit.
- ACLU Jails Project: Student volunteers 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.
- Animal Legal Defense Project: The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is dedicated to protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. A student volunteer is needed to help research and prepare ALDF’s Response to a Motion to Dismiss and perform other tasks related to the litigation.
- Armory Intake Clinics for the Homeless (Project organized by OCHRA): Law student volunteers, working with the Public
Law Center (PLC) provide legal services to the homeless staying at the National
Guard Armories in Santa Ana and Fullerton during the winter months from
December to March.
- Bankruptcy Applications: Students are needed to assist self-represented debtors complete and file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. All work will be conducted under the supervision of local bankruptcy attorneys, including from Irell & Manella LLP, on cases referred by the Public Law Center.
- Bankruptcy Courthouse Volunteer: Students are needed at the Bankruptcy clinic at the Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana to meet with pro se litigants, and provide bankruptcy advice under the supervision of attorney Leigh Ferrin of the Public Law Center.
- Bet Tzedek Client Intake: Bet Tzedek Legal Services (“House of Justice”) handles both direct service and impact ligitation matters in Los Angeles. Students are needed to assist with intakes, which involve interviewing clients, usually over the phone, regarding their legal issues.
- 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.
- Community Economic Development Project: Students will work with Skadden Fellow, Ben Polk, in the CED unit of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) on the following: 1) Encouraging companies to relocate to low-income areas in Los Angeles by providing innovative legal, political and policy incentives; 2) Analyzing the recent development of multiple corporate forms; 3) Investigating innovative anti-poverty approaches, and identifying areas of opportunity; 4) Preparing a memo to guide LAFLA's anti-poverty strategies around corporate law.
- Conservatorship Project (1): Assisting Families at Special Education Schools: Volunteers are needed to meet with families at the schools of their children, and assist them to request conservatorships of their adult, developmentally-delayed children.
- Conservatorship Project (2): Courthouse Volunteers: Students are needed to assist at weekly clinics to assist self-represented families that are requesting a conservatorship of a severely developmentally delayed child.
- Consumer Law Project: Students will work with Public Counsel to assist low-income clients who have been victims of consumer fraud. Volunteers develop detailed and accurate case profiles through prospective client interviews and document development to determine the viability of the client’s case for pro bono placement.
- Criminal Law Projects: Three opportunities are available for students to work on criminal law cases:
- District Attorney’s Office: Second and third-year law students interested in criminal prosecution will get hands-on experience with the District Attorney’s office in Santa Ana. 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.
- Public Defender’s Office: Students volunteer each week at either the PD’s main office in Santa Ana, or at a satellite court. Volunteers will work with an individual public defender or with a particular team, assisting with client interviews, research, and possibly writing motions.
- 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. Student volunteers will work under the supervision of the director, Marri Derby, conducting research as well as direct legal assistance.
- Disabled and Elderly Benefits (SSI)—Intake Clinic & Follow-up: Volunteers assist some of the most vulnerable clients under the supervision of Legal Aid Society of Orange County attorney Bill Wise. Volunteers work to secure Social Security Income benefits for the clients, providing a living stipend and medical benefits
- Domestic Violence Declarations: Students will volunteer at the courthouse in Orange, assisting self-represented clients to prepare declarations for their Temporary Restraining Orders. Students conduct an interview and immediately prepare a declaration. Supervision will be provided by attorney volunteers.
- Domestic Violence Clinic in Long Beach: A student volunteer for the Long Beach Domestic Violence Clinic will work with attorneys from the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, assisting victims of domestic violence and elder abuse in preparing
requests for restraining orders.
- Education Rights Clinic: The Learning Rights Law Center is working with UCI Law to expand education legal services to Orange County. Attorneys from LRLC will supervise UCI Law students doing education law intakes at monthly clinics assisting families of special education students
- Education Rights Project—In Office Volunteers: The Learning Rights Law Center is a nonprofit legal services agency whose mission is to ensure equitable access to public education for all students. Student volunteers at the LRLC office in Los Angeles will be trained and supervised by Jessica Toth, Director of Pro Bono and Brief Services.
- Elder Abuse Legal-Medical Partnership Project: The onset of dementia often exposes seniors to personal and financial abuse for many years to come. The Legal Aid Society of Orange County is partnering with the geriatrics department of the
UCI Medical School for an innovative approach to addressing elder abuse issues
among patients with dementia.
- Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project: Esperanza works exclusively with immigrants being held in custody—both adults and children. Esperanza offers two volunteer opportunities: 1) Working with immigrant children being held at the Crittenton Shelter in Fullerton and who are in removal proceedings and are considered “unaccompanied minors”; 2) Providing weekly summaries of all 9th Circuit immigration decisions.
- Expungement Clinics: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. Students may volunteer in Orange County with the Public Defender’s New Leaf Project, or in the Inland Empire with the Inland Empire Latino Lawyers Association (IELLA).
- Family Law Clinic & Low Income Civil Assistance: Students work with attorney Bill Tanner of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County to assist low-income Orange County residents with all of their family law needs and some civil legal issues. Volunteers will help prepare petitions, pleadings, declarations, letters, assist with legal forms, and research the new California Homeowners Bill of Rights for a pamphlet to be disbursed to low-income residents.
- Foreclosure Mitigation Unit: Students will assist Patricia Pinto, the managing attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, with her cases regarding loan modification and foreclosure prevention. Student work will include intakes, interviews, settlement conferences and workshops.
- General Legal Services for the Poor: Yolanda Omana, a senior attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, is a generalist and works on a wide variety of cases. Students will assist with interviews, and provide legal work on a variety of cases, including research and preparation of legal documents such as briefs and responsive pleadings.
- Guardianships: Students will work with attorneys from Paul Hastings LLP to assist caretakers seeking probate guardianships of minor children that are in their care. Students will interview the caretakers, prepare the guardianship forms, and observe the supervising attorney at the hearing.
- Health Consumer Action Center: Student volunteers are need to assist this specialized unit of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC) that is involved with policy advocacy and also assists low-income clients in Orange County to access health care coverage and services and solve serious issues clients may have with their medical insurance.
- Homeless Benefits Project (Mankinen Settlement): A recent Consent Decree reforms the system of implementing the General Relief program in Orange County. Students will do outreach to homeless residents to inform them of their rights under the settlement, and assist them in completing requests for retroactive funding.
- Homeless Food Stamps Records Requests: The volunteer will draft a Public Records Act request, to be sent out by the Western Center on Law and Poverty, to every California county, inquiring about food stamps for homeless individuals. The volunteer will then gather and analyze the responses.
- Homelessness Prevention Project: Students will work with attorney Vanessa Leonardo of the Public Law Center’s Housing and Homelessness Unit. Volunteers will assist with intakes, case meetings, document preparation and research in the areas of housing, debtor relief, employment, government benefits, and family law.
- Housing Project with LASOC: Crystal Sims, Director of Litigation for the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, will supervise one student that enjoys working independently. Her casework primarily focuses on housing (including predatory lending issues), subsidized housing, and landlord/tenant issues.
- Immigration Detention Project: Students will work with attorneys from Public Counsel to visit detainees in the Santa Ana Jail, and prepare them for their immigration proceedings. Volunteers will meet with detainees at the jail to inform them of their immigration options, relief available, and help them prepare for their pro se trial.
- Impact Litigation: Bet Tzedek’s Impact Litigation Unit pursues affirmative litigation and appellate advocacy that targets systemic injustice inflicted on society's most vulnerable members. Law students will research issues for active cases, including several class action lawsuits targeting unscrupulous foreclosure practices by banks, and assist in researching potential causes of action under state and federal law.
- Inland Empire Latino Lawyers Association—Legal Aid Project: A student will volunteer at the IELLA office in Riverside, assisting with translations and legal document preparation in the areas of family law, evictions, expungements, civil collections, restraining orders and small claims.
- Innocence Project Collaboration: Students will work with attorneys from K&L Gates LLP to review inmate requests for representation sent to the California Innocence Project. Each investigation will culminate with the writing of a recommendation memo to be submitted to CIP.
- Iraqi 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 Bingham McCutchen LLP; Irell & Manella LLP; Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP; Stradling, Yocca, Carlson & Routh LLP, and Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP.
- Korean Legal Services and Outreach: Attorney Sara Lee of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC) provides civil legal assistance for monolingual Korean clients. A student volunteer will assist Ms. Lee with general intake, interviews, research, document gathering, preparation of legal documents and additional follow-up.
- Litigation Assistance: Attorneys from Irell & Manella LLP are working on several pro bono litigation matters. A student will perform a variety of tasks as they arise, including: legal research and memo writing, discovery, drafting pleadings, or observing a hearing.
- Litigation Assistance for Koreatown Redistricting Case: Attorneys from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Bird Marella LLP need student assistance on a pro bono litigation matter arising out of the division of the Koreatown community into multiple city districts during the recent round of redistricting.
- Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition Research: During the 19th and 20th centuries, Native American children were separated from their families and tribes and sent to boarding schools to be indoctrinated in the Euro-American standard. Students will research novel legal issues regarding potential suits by Native Americans.
- Self Help Center (Long Beach): Students will get hands-on experience with individuals who are representing themselves in legal actions for eviction and family law. Students will assist with document preparation, and may give workshops to educate individuals on a specific area of law.
- Senior Citizen Legal Advocacy Program: Students will assist Bill Wise, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, with numerous issues affecting senior citizens, including Social Security, food stamps, family law, property, homeowners associations, consumer fraud, collections, and bankruptcy.
- Services for Homeless and Those on the Verge (CARES): The project 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.
- Transactional and Intellectual Property Project: Students will work with Sarah Efthymiou of the Public Law Center’s Community Organizations Legal Assistance Project (“COLAP”). 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.
- Veteran’s Expungement Clinic: Students will work in the Public Law Center’s Veteran’s Unit assisting veterans applying for expungement, which will help veteran clients to obtain housing and employment. Students will conduct client meetings, draft declarations, complete documents, collect recommendation letters, and compile final applications.
- Victims of Crime Special Visas (U-Visa): Students will be supervised by attorneys from the firm of Snell & Wilmer in preparing U-Visa requests for victims of crime, who have cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation related to their victimization. Most clients are women and children that have suffered physical or sexual abuse by a family member or intimate partner.
- Workers’ Rights Clinic—Orange County: Students will participate in the first and only employment law intake clinics for low-income workers in Orange County. Issues include discrimination/harassment, wage and hour, unemployment benefits, and wrongful termination. Mike Gaitley of the Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center will provide training and supervision, in addition to assistance by employment attorneys based in Orange County.
- Workers’ Rights Clinic—Los Angeles: Bet Tzedek Legal Services represents low-wage workers, regardless of immigration status, who are asserting claims for unpaid wages and unlawful working conditions. Volunteers will interview potential clients during Wednesday evening walk-in clinics at the Bet Tzedek office.
- Writing and Analysis for Legal Newspaper: The Legal Aid Society of Orange County has launched its own weekly legal publication, The Notice. Students are needed to write articles about recent cases as well as legal updates in the areas of Family Law, Domestic Violence, Housing, Employment, Bankruptcy and Consumer Law.
- Youth Health Care and Education Policy Research: Young Invincibles is a national organization to mobilize and expand opportunities for young Americans between 18 and 34 years of age on issues like higher education, health care and jobs. Volunteers are needed to research and write a memo on issues related to health care and higher education.