The Eric R. Neisser Public Interest Program is home to a number of student-run pro bono and community service projects. Students volunteering through these programs provide assistance, advocacy, and education in a wide variety of areas, including bankruptcy, civil rights, family law, and youth issues. Each year more than 100 students participate in the program, providing invaluable service to the community.
A Student Pro Bono Board works in collaboration with community partners and faculty assist in identifying and promoting pro bono work throughout the law school community. In collaboration with the Eric R. Neisser Public Interest Program, the Board strives to provide recognition of students, faculty and staff pro bono efforts. Projects for the 2014-2015 academic year include the following:
Child Custody Project
|Organization:||Volunteer Lawyers for Justice|
Pro Bono Interns’ responsibilities: Student interns, working under the supervision of experienced volunteer attorneys, have the opportunity to assist in the following: client interviewing, reviewing and assessing files, drafting motions, calculating child support guidelines, and attending monthly child support clinic at the Family Court in Newark.
The Honorable Morris Stern Bankruptcy Pro Bono Project
|Community Partner:||Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, Jessica Kitson|
The Honorable Morris Stern Bankruptcy Pro Bono Project at Rutgers–Newark Law School seeks to further two important goals: providing pro bono bankruptcy assistance to an under-served population and mentoring second- and third-year law students in the actual practice of law. The Project, launched in Fall 2013, was created to insure adequate representation to indigent and other pro se bankruptcy filers. The Project brings together various segments of the community including legal services, local bar associations, and law students. The Project provides an important community service, while also promoting the importance of pro bono work to current law students.
LGBTQ Pro Bono Legal Assistance Project
|Community Partner:||LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York|
New Jersey LGBTQ Pro Bono Legal Assistance Project, in collaboration with Le-Gal, the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York, and with the law school’s LGBT Caucus, Rutgers New Jersey LGBTQ Pro Bono Legal Assistance Project provides walk-in legal information, advice and referrals for low-income members of the LGBTQ community. The Project provides a safe space for low-income members of the local LGBTQ community to seek help with their legal problems in areas including family, housing, and employment law. The Project is staffed by volunteer attorneys who are available to provide general guidance and legal referrals, but not legal representation. Consultations are held at the law school on the third Wednesday of every month.
Launched in 2006, Street Law trains law students to teach a law-related curriculum designed to empower youth and adults to become more active citizens. Among Street Law’s goals are educating the community about their legal rights and responsibilities and providing students with the opportunity to cultivate stronger legal research and presentation skills.
Driver’s License Restoration Project
|Training:||Students attend mandatory training and receive supervision by experienced municipal attorneys.|
Organization: Volunteer Lawyers for Justice Reentry Legal Services Volunteer Lawyers for Justice’s reentry program, Newark Reentry Legal Services seek volunteer law students to assist with our monthly Driver’s License Restoration Clinic. Students will prepare case file for volunteer attorneys in advance of the clinic appointment. During the clinic, students will meet in two- person teams with individual clients to conduct an interview, review sources of suspension, offer advice under attorney supervision, draft letter motions and/or prepare clients to appear pro se in municipal court. Clinics are held from 12 – 5 pm, every third Thursday of the month in downtown Newark. Clinic dates are Feb. 19, March 19, and April 16. Volunteer hours during the clinic are flexible; though require a 2 hour minimum (for example 1 -3 pm or 3 – 5 pm). There are volunteer spots for 4 law students, which will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis, with preference given to 2L and 3Ls and students who can commit to attending each clinic.
Pro Se Divorce Project
Organization: Volunteer Lawyers for Justice
Training: Students receive training and supervision from experienced matrimonial lawyers. Held on the 2nd Thursday of the month. Clinic dates are Feb. 12, March 12, and April 9 from 1 pm – 5 pm. Before each clinic VLJ hosts an informational seminar on divorce from 11:30 am – 1 pm. The informational seminar is led by an experienced matrimonial attorney. It is not a requirement for students to attend the informational seminar but it is preferred that students make arrangements to attend at least one informational seminar
This is a walk-in clinic at the family court in Newark. Typically VLJ assists 25-35 litigants at each clinic. Students work under attorney supervision and screen clients for eligibility and merit. Students assist litigants with completing their pro se pleadings for divorce and provide information to litigants about how to file their divorce complaint and service of process. In some cases, students work with pro bono attorney in providing a final review all pleadings and give legal advice to litigants.
Spring Break Pro Bono Projects
Hurricane Sandy Alternative Spring Break
Pro Bono Work: Students devote 30 hours of law-related service work for Legal Services of New Jersey’ Sandy Relief Project during spring break. This opportunity is open to ALL students, including 1Ls. Applicants will be selected subject to LSNJ standards and discretion.
Mobile Legal Health Project
Organization: New York Lawyers Assistance Project
NYLAG’s comprehensive pro bono program offers volunteers from select NY law schools to gain experience in a broad range of issues including consumer protection, disability rights, holocaust compensation assistance, and medical-legal advocacy MLHC is the country’s first-ever legal services office and courtroom on wheels. On the MLHC, NYLAG staff provides counseling, advice, and direct representation without leaving the vehicle. A video link with the courts enables access to judges for emergency hearings, including domestic violence and eviction cases.
Training: Prior to volunteering, students will have two on-line trainings. Conduct intake interviews with MLHC visitors, and provide information and brief advice on a variety of legal issues. All volunteers are supervised by a NYLAG staff attorney who assists with evaluation of the legal issues raised during intake, and provides any guidance and support volunteers may need. Volunteers will have access to a recording of webinar training on the MLHC intake process and will be sent training materials and intake guides (also available below).
Pro Bono Assignments: Providing advice and representation on public benefits, housing, immigration, consumer and family law issues. Foreclosure prevention, consumer and insurance issues.
For more information about Rutgers–Newark’s Pro Bono Program contact: Susan Feathers at email@example.com