Pro Bono Student Experiences

Students do not receive academic credit or financial gain for their pro bono work, but they get much more, from the opportunity to practice and expand the legal skills learned in the classroom to making a real difference in the lives of underserved members of the community.

Favorite Pro Bono Moments

My favorite pro bono moment was helping students learn about freedom.
My favorite pro bono moment was when my elder abuse client said I made a difficult situation better.
My favorite pro bono moment was rebalancing the scales of criminal justice.
My favorite pro bono moment was working on a 5th circuit appeal on behalf of a disabled student in Mississippi.
My favorite pro bono moment was helping refugees get resettled.
My favorite pro bono moment was building a trusting relationship with my U-Visa client. 
My favorite pro bono moment was when my veteran client got a job after his record was expunged! Second chances!
My favorite pro bono moment was training immigration officers on trans and queer sensitivity.
My favorite pro bono moment was feeling like I made a difference.
My favorite pro bono moment was helping domestic violence survivors tell their stories.
My favorite pro bono moment was finding creative arguments to preserve low income housing.
My favorite pro bono moment was everything!

“The pro bono opportunities at UCI Law are endless. I had the privilege of being a co-chair for the Street Law Program, in which UCI law students work with volunteer attorneys to teach lessons to students at an alternative school in Santa Ana on diverse topics such as copyrights, social host liability and contracts. As the first in my family to go to college, I know first hand the impact that these types of programs have on a student’s path to higher education.” —Andrenna Hidalgo Berggren ’17

“About a month after I began volunteering with the Workers’ Rights Clinic, I had the opportunity to represent a client at his unemployment insurance hearing. This was an incredible experience. I learned a lot through this process, like how to write my first set of direct and cross examination questions, how to prepare a client for a hearing, how to introduce documents into evidence, how to interact with a judge, and how to write and deliver a closing statement. And the best part was that my client won his appeal! I am so thankful that I had this opportunity so early during my time in law school. I will remember this experience for the rest of my life.—Helen Boyer ’18

“The Pro Bono Program at UCI Law gave me countless opportunities to use my legal education to positively impact low-income communities. From volunteering with various legal aid organizations in Los Angeles and Orange County to participating in the alternative spring break program traveling to the Mississippi Center for Justice, my pro bono experiences helped to solidify my passion for helping the underrepresented and my commitment to public interest work.—Natalie Diaz ’16

“Through the Workers’ Rights Clinic, I had an opportunity to represent a client at an unemployment insurance hearing before an administrative law judge. The client’s former employer had fired her for alleged misconduct at work, and the client sought help appealing the denial of her unemployment insurance claim. As a 1L, the idea of representing a client before an ALJ was both terrifying and exciting. My supervising attorney from the Clinic familiarized me with the hearing process and helped me as I prepared the client, which allowed me to walk into the hearing with confidence. The hearing went well and I was thrilled to learn that my client won her appeal. I felt a sense of empowerment from putting my client in a better position to receive her benefits. I was also surprised by how much I related to my client as we prepared for the hearing. I am grateful to the Workers’ Rights Clinic and to UCI Law for opening the door to this unique learning opportunity.—Christopher Nielsen ’18

“My favorite experience thus far in law school has undoubtedly been the opportunity to take part in a pro bono project with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. As a law clerk for three semesters, I first began preparing research memos and briefs, and am now able to assist by arguing pre-trial motions and handling felony preliminary hearings. I assist in representing victims of crimes and contributing to keeping our community safe, which makes me feel like I’m making a difference.” —Divya Prabhakar ’17

“One of my favorite things about UCI Law is that it provides students with different opportunities to practice assuming the role of a lawyer through its pro bono program. Not only do students gain practical legal skills and expose themselves to different areas of law, but they get to develop a sense of themselves as advocates and their capacity to serve as such therein.”  —Meigan Thompson ’17