Pro Bono Opportunities
Please review the Pro Bono Student Handbook before committing to any of the opportunities listed below.
- USF Pro Bono Opportunities Short Term: These opportunities are especially suitable for students who have minimal or no legal experience. The legal service organization provides on-site training and does not require students to commit to attending more than a single session.
- USF Pro Bono Opportunities Medium Term: These opportunities require students to receive advance training, which is conducted by the legal service organization. They also require students to volunteer and attend at least four sessions.
- USF Pro Bono Opportunities Long Term: These opportunities allow upper-division students to work on full-scope cases under the supervision of volunteer attorneys, many of whom are USF alumni. Because these opportunities arise from representing a client with a pending litigation matter, the amount of time spent performing the work and when the work is performed varies significantly.
- Self-Initiated Pro Bono Opportunities with Local Organizations: This non-exhaustive list of pro bono opportunities represents a variety of non-profit or government legal services organizations that will hire law students for full-time or part-time internships. Interested students should contact the legal services organizations to learn about the volunteer opportunities and the application process.
Short Term: Single Opportunities That Include On-Site Training
Although USF law students are invited to perform pro bono work at any legal services organization that suits their interests and needs, the following opportunities are especially suitable for students who have minimal or no legal experience. These opportunities allow students to contribute in meaningful ways, but do not require students to have substantive knowledge or legal training. That is, you can help someone and learn about the law and the practice of law—all at the same time.
When students sign up for the following opportunities, the legal service organization provides on-site training and does not require students to commit to attending more than a single session. But students, legal service organizations, and clients benefit exponentially the more often students participate in these opportunities.
- Justice Bus: OneJustice, a nonprofit organization, works with legal service organizations and volunteers to ensure greater access to high quality legal help for underserved communities. The Justice Bus Project is an opportunity for law students to provide legal assistance to isolated and rural communities in a variety of areas, including criminal record expungements, immigration, employment, housing and education.
- What do law students do? For the fall semester, students will interview clients and provide legal assistance on criminal record expungement matters.
- What training do law students need? OneJustice requires students to watch a Client Interviewing Skills Training Video and a Criminal Record Clearance Training Video.
- What is the time commitment? The Justice Bus for the Fall has already been completed. Check back at the beginning of the Spring Semester for new dates!
- Where is the Justice Bus trip? For the fall semester, the Justice Bus served the Chico and Redding communities.
- How do law students sign up? There are 14 spots, so law students must email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible to reserve a spot.
- LARC: The Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco organizes and sponsors the Legal Advice and Referral Clinic (“LARC”). At these clinics, low-income clients receive legal advice and referrals from experienced attorneys in various areas of the law, including personal injury, contracts, collection defense, eviction defense, employment, immigration, and criminal defense.
- What do law students do? When law students volunteer at LARC, they will be conducting client intakes. This means that they will be the first person to meet with the client to understand what the client’s issues and concerns are. By asking meaningful questions and listening carefully, law students will be able to complete an intake form, which will be used by the experienced attorneys to provide appropriate advice and referrals to the client.
- Law students can also volunteer to be interpreters. Many of the clients that come to LARC speak Spanish, Mandarin, and Cantonese, so law students with language abilities play an important part of the legal process when providing interpreting services for clients and attorneys at LARC.
- What training do law students need? The Justice & Diversity staff members provide a brief training to all volunteers before LARC opens its doors to clients.
- What is the time commitment? LARC is held on the last Saturday of every month (August 27, September 24, and October 29) from 10:30-2:30 pm, and we encourage students to attend this clinic as often as their schedules permit throughout the semester. This clinic is completed for the fall semester, and will resume in January.
- Where is the LARC clinic? The Bayview LARC is located at Providence Baptist Church, 1601 McKinnon Ave. (cross-street is Mendell, one block East of 3rd Street), San Francisco, CA 94124.
- How do law students sign up? Law students should email email@example.com at least three weeks in advance of the LARC Clinic to sign up.
- Asian American Bar Association Pro Bono Clinic: The Asian American Bar Association (“AABA”) collaborates with Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach (“APILO”) to offer Pro Bono Clinics in San Francisco and Oakland in areas primarily related to immigration and family law.
- What do law students do? Law students will team up with a volunteer attorney to conduct intakes and provide preliminary legal advice. Students will occasionally be asked to complete paperwork on behalf of the client, but such work will be done under the supervision of an attorney.
- What training do law students need? Law students will be given onsite training by the supervising attorney. However, USF and AABA, with co-sponsorships with APALSA, La Raza, and the Immigration Law Society, will be organizing a training on-campus at 6:15 on September 20, 2016 in Kendrick 101.
- What is the time commitment? The clinic is open from 6-9pm, and we encourage students to attend this clinic as often as their schedules permit throughout the semester.
- Where is the AABA clinic? AABA holds two clinics, and USF students are welcomed at either or both clinics:
- San Francisco-Tenderloin Legal Clinics is held every 4th Wednesday of the month at UC Hastings, 100 McAllister Street, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94102
- East Bay-Oakland Legal Clinics is held every 3rd Wednesday of the month at the APILO Office, 1305 Franklin Street, Suite 410, Oakland, CA 94612
- How do law students sign up? Law students should email firstname.lastname@example.org at least three weeks in advance of the AABA Clinic to sign up.
4. USF School of Law Employment Law Clinic: The USF School of Law Employment Clinic handles a variety of cases, including Wage and Hour cases. The legal issues in Wage and Hour cases include failure to pay workers for labor and overtime, failure to give meal and rest breaks, and a range of other employment issues. Law students work on these cases under the supervision of Professor Robert Talbot or an adjunct faculty member, and they receive academic credit for their work, which is not considered pro bono work. However, there is a need for interpreting services, which is considered pro bono work.
- What do law students do? Bilingual Spanish and English law students can serve as interpreters to help prepare clients for their wage and hour settlement conferences or hearings.
- What training do law students need? Professor Talbot or the supervising adjunct faculty member will provide onsite training information to the law student.
- What is the time commitment? The time commitment is variable. Interviews with clients last one to three hours.
- Where is the work located? The work may be done at the law school or at the Instituto Laboral de La Raza, which is located at 2947 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.
- How do law students sign up? Law students should email email@example.com to express their interest, their language ability, and a schedule of their availability throughout the week for the current semester. We will keep a running list of students who are interested in performing interpreting services for the USF Law Clinic and provide that list to Professor Talbot on an ongoing basis. Professor Talbot will reach out to students on the list throughout the semester based on clinic needs and law student availability.
Medium Term: Opportunities that Require Advance Training and Attending a Minimum of Four Sessions
The following list offers terrific opportunities for upper division law students to engage in meaningful clinic work throughout the semester. It is helpful if students have an interest in the particular areas of law described below, but not required. These opportunities require students to receive advance training on the substantive area of the law, which is organized and provided by the legal service organization.
Because these clinics require students to have a more in-depth understanding of the legal issues and to perform complex work, students taking advantage of this opportunity should commit to attending at least four sessions in addition to the mandatory training. This commitment allows students to receive the maximum benefit of learning; it also allows the clients and the legal service organizations to receive student contributions that play a meaningful part in the work.
- GI Rights Hotline: The GI Rights Network is coalition of nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations that provide free and confidential information to United States military service members, veterans, and their families. Most of the work of the Network is done through the GI Rights Hotline, but the Network also provides email counseling and live in-person counseling in some locales.
- What do law students do? After attending the training, laws student will bepaired with experienced counselors. Once law students have acquired command of the necessary materials, they may counsel on their own. This is a great opportunity to learn about military issues and to work on your interviewing skills.
- What training do law students need? BAMLP lawyers and legal workers provide training and mentorship to law students who volunteer for the GI Rights Network. Law students must attend a training to participate. The fall training has passed, check back for more information in the spring!
- What is the time commitment? In addition to the training, the GI Rights Hotline expects law students to volunteer two hours per week between 10:00am-5:00pm.
- Where will the work be done? The counseling will be take place at the GI Rights office, which is located at 65 9th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.
- How do law students sign up? This is an ongoing opportunity, so law students can email firstname.lastname@example.org at any time to sign up.
- Eviction Defense Collaborative Clinic: The Eviction Defense Collaborative (“EDC”) is the principal organization in San Francisco helping low-income tenants respond to eviction lawsuits. The Eviction Defense Collaborative serves over 6,000 individuals facing homelessness a year.
What do law students do? When law students volunteer at EDC, they will be helping low-income individuals and families with their eviction lawsuit. Law students will shadow attorneys at the drop-in clinic, helping to complete intake interviews and draft legal documents.
What training do law students need? EDC requires that law students shadow attorneys conducting intake at least twice to learn how to conduct client intake interview.
What is the time commitment? The EDC Clinic is generally open from Monday through Friday from 9:30am–11:30am and 1:00pm–3:00pm. To volunteer, EDC students must be at the clinic from 9:00am-12:00pm or from 12:30pm-3:30pm. EDC expects that students will volunteer regularly over the course of a semester.
Where is the EDC clinic? The EDC Clinic is located at 1338 Mission St, 4th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103 (between 9th and 10th Streets, two blocks from the Civic Center BART)
How do law students sign up? This is an ongoing opportunity, but law students must email email@example.com at least three weeks in advance of when they’d like to attend a clinic.
Consumer Debt Defense and Education Clinic (CDDEC): The Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco offers limited scope representation services to low-income clients struggling with debt issues. Volunteer attorneys will counsel individual clients and possibly draft in pro per litigation documents.
What do law students do? Law students will shadow volunteer attorneys during the CDDEC. They will assist in the client intake, the counseling, and the drafting of documents if appropriate.
What training do law students need? Law students must watch “Consumer Defense: Training for the Non-Expert,” a three-hour DVD, which must be viewed at the Justice and Diversity Center.
What is the time commitment? The CDDEC takes place once a month on a Wednesday evening from 6-9pm. After participating in the training, law students should plan to attend the CDDEC at least three times within the academic year.
Where will the work be done? The CDDEC is located at the Justice & Diversity Center, which is at 301 Battery St, San Francisco, CA 94111.
How do law students sign up? This is an ongoing opportunity, so law students can email firstname.lastname@example.org at any time to sign up.
The Federal Pro Bono Project: The Federal Pro Bono Project of the Bar Association of San Francisco offers limited-scope representation services to pro se litigants in federal civil cases. Services are provided by appointment at the Legal Help Center at the federal court houses in San Francisco and Oakland. The Legal Help Center’s Attorney will provide information about legal rights and responsibilities, limited-scope legal advice, help prepare simple pleadings, and referrals to legal, social and government services.
What do law students do? Each Legal Help Center is staffed with a supervising attorney. A law student will work with the supervising attorney, either in San Francisco or Oakland, depending on the location that the law student chooses. The law student will perform legal research, draft litigation documents, and potentially interact with pro per litigants.
What training do law students need? Law students will not be required to attend a training, but must be in their second or third year of law school. Because legal research and writing is a critical component of this work, the volunteering law student should be a skilled and confident research and writer.
What is the time commitment? The time commitment is approximately two hours a week for the semester.
Where will the work be done? The Legal Help Center is located within the district courthouses in Oakland (1301 Clay Street, 4th Floor, Room 470S, Oakland, CA 94612 and San Francisco (450 Golden Gate Avenue, 15th Floor, Room 2796, San Francisco, CA 94102. Law students will work remotely, at the Justice & Diversity Center (301 Battery St, San Francisco, CA 94111), or at one of the Legal Help Centers.
How do law students sign up? This is an ongoing opportunity, so law students can email email@example.com at any time to sign up. In your email, please include the name of your first-year LRWA Professor as a reference for your legal research and writing ability.
Long Term: Opportunities that Require Advance Training and Ongoing Work Performed by a Supervising Attorney and Law Student
- Interpreter Project: The Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco matches volunteer attorneys with clients who need limited or full scope legal assistance on matters related to eviction defense, family law, collection defense, and tax.
- What do law students do? Bilingual law students can serve as interpreters on limited or full scope cases for clients that are monolingual Spanish, Cantonese, or Mandarin.
- What training do law students need? After attending a mandatory orientation session at the Justice & Diversity Office, you will be able to volunteer one-on-one with a volunteer attorney and his or her client.
- What is the time commitment? The law student’s time commitment will be based on the needs of the case. The meetings with the law student, volunteer attorney, and client will be scheduled at mutually convenient times.
- Where will the work be done? It depends. Work may be done at the volunteer attorney’s office, a mutually agreeable location, or remotely (e.g., interpreting documents may be done via email or by conference call).
- How do law students sign up? This is an ongoing opportunity, so law students can email firstname.lastname@example.org at any time to sign up.
- USF Alum/Student Project: The Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco offers the following programs that include full scope litigation services: Family Law Project, Eviction Defense Project, Homeless Advocacy Project, Guardianship/Conservatorship Project, Federal Pro Bono Project, and Tax Project. The Justice & Diversity Center additionally staffs the Community Organization Representation Project, which provides legal representation and advice in transactional areas including employment, real estate, intellectual property, taxation, business contracts, and corporate formation/governance.
- What do law students do? Each law student will be paired with a USF alumni volunteer attorney to work on a limited or full scope matter.
- What training do law students need? Students must attend a mandatory training organized by the Justice and Diversity Center in the area of law that he or she would like to work in. Because the greatest need for pro bono volunteers at the Justice & Diversity Center is for staffing on the Family Law Project, the Office of Student Affairs will be organizing a training at the law school for law students and USF alums this fall semester.
What is the time commitment? The law student’s time commitment will be based on the needs of the case, which may include meetings and substantive legal research and writing. The meetings will be scheduled at mutually convenient times.
Where will the work be done? It depends. Work may be done at the volunteer attorney’s office, a mutually agreeable location, or remotely.