Pro Bono Program
Law students at Loyola have the option of participating in the Gillis Long Student Pro Bono Program to satisfy the Law and Poverty requirement needed for graduation. The Gillis Long Student Pro Bono Program requires fifty hours of pro bono work which the student may perform at any time during their law school career.
The Pro Bono Program places students at approved sites where students can gain practical legal experience while performing legal work such as conducting client interviews and legal research and writing. Areas of practice include such fields as domestic law, homeless law, mental health law, juvenile law, social security issues, the death penalty, elder law, consumer law, and AIDS issues.
The Gillis Long Student Pro Bono Program seeks to provide students with the opportunity to gain practical legal experience to aid their development as professionals, create a greater awareness of the obligation to provide legal services to the disadvantaged, foster development of the bar, and provide quality legal services to our community.
Students interested in participating in the program may contact the program coordinator, Judson Mitchell at email@example.com and 861-5597.
Please refer to the Law Bulletin for additional ways to satisfy the Law and Poverty Requirement.
Loyola University New Orleans College of Law offers students the opportunity to provide pro bono legal assistance during their enrollment at the law school. The program is named Gillis Long Student Pro Bono Program, the offices of which are located in room 305 of the Broadway Building, phone number (504) 861-5597, fax (504) 861-5440. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rule 6.1 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct recognizes an attorney's obligation to provide legal service to the community. Ideally, every attorney is expected to perform a minimum of fifty (50) pro bono publico hours annually. This obligation is not mandatory, it is aspirational. By giving back to the community in which they live and work, lawyers contribute to the advancement of their community, give assistance to the poor, and develop true professionalism in the practice of law.
In addition to the professional ideal underlying pro bono work, Loyola University College of Law seeks to promote the traditional Catholic values which recognize the inherent dignity of each person, made in the image and likeness of God. As a consequence of this common bond between all human persons, the College of Law promotes the vision of St. Ignatius of Loyola which emphasizes being people for and with others, especially in our concern and care for the poor, the oppressed, and the downtrodden. The Ignatian vision is embodied in the development of the Gillis Long Pro Bono Program which seeks to provide students with the opportunity to: (1) gain practical legal experience to aid in their development as professionals; (2) create a greater awareness of the obligation to provide legal services to the disadvantaged; (3) foster development of the bar; and (4) provide quality legal services to our community. All of the Gillis Long Pro Bono Program goals may be accomplished while serving the poor of the greater New Orleans metropolitan area and responding to the call of the Gospel to love one's neighbor.
Students have the option of participating in the Gillis Long Pro Bono Program to satisfy the Law and Poverty requirement needed for graduation. For students opting to participate, the Gillis Long Pro Bono Program requires fifty (50) hours of pro bono work which the student may perform at any time during their law school career. The program is open to first through third year students. The fifty hour requirement is merely a minimum guideline. Ideally, students will work beyond the fifty hour requirement as a means to acquire greater legal training, skills, and experience, and to promote working on pro bono matters as a life-long professional commitment.
Any work performed by students as part of the program must be unpaid. Students shall not receive either academic credit or a grade for the work, other than the graduation credit for the Law and Poverty requirement.
Approval in Advance Recommended - All placements should ideally be approved in advance by the College of Law. Credit may be denied if the student's place of work is not pre-approved and is subsequently deemed ineligible.
Types of Eligible Projects - In general, the Gillis Long Pro Bono Program is designed to perform work which is (1) legal, as opposed to quasi legal or non-legal; and (2) provides assistance to indigent clients (see: 45 CFR Part 1611; La. C.C.P. art. 5183 (B)). These guidelines are not exclusive. For instance, in appropriate circumstances, students may perform services for the working poor, that is, those people who do not fall within the statutory guidelines and who cannot afford to pay for legal assistance. In any case, the work undertaken must be professional, law-related work, including work which serves to improve the law, the legal system, or the legal profession or which facilitates the administration of justice (See Rule 6.1).
Work with private attorneys - Pro bono placements with private practitioners or firms may be approved where: (1) there is no concurrent paid employment relationship between the law student and the private practitioner or firm, and (2) the work to be performed has been assigned through the local legal aid services provider, by court appointment, or by referral from the local office of the public defender, or (3) approved by the Coordinator of the program in advance.
Work must be unpaid - As a general rule, no pro bono work will be approved where the student is concurrently in a paid employment relationship with the placement sponsor.
Each student must satisfy the guidelines as set forth herein. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in the denial of credit for the program.
Choosing Your Placement - In the past, the program used to require that students receive pre-approval for any work done. In practice, this proved unworkable and led to many applications for "back-credit." As a result, the rules now only recommend that a student receive pre-approval. If students do not seek pre-approval, they risk not receiving pro bono credit should the work be deemed ineligible. Students may choose from the list of pre-approved placements on the program web site, or they may choose their own. If a student needs help in finding a placement, he or she should contact the Pro Bono Coordinator for assistance.
No Concurrent Paid Relationship - Since the work to be performed is pro bono, there may be no concurrent paid employment relationship between the law student and the placement sponsor.
Travel and Expenses - Travel time will not be credited toward the fifty (50) hour requirement. Students will be responsible for paying their own travel expenses and all other expenses related to their performance of pro bono work. The Gillis Long Pro Bono Program and the College of Law will not be responsible to pay for any expenses related to a student's pro bono work.
Timekeeping - Students are responsible for reporting time worked. Every student has an obligation to report his or her time completely and accurately. The reporting of false or misleading information with respect to timekeeping may lead to forfeiture of all pro bono credit and further disciplinary action. Terminating Your Placement Prior to Completing the Assignment - Students need not work in one placement to obtain the 50 hours required. Students are strongly discouraged from leaving a placement or transferring to another prior to completing tasks that have been assigned. Should you have a compelling need to do so, please contact the Pro Bono Coordinator to discuss the matter further.
Getting Your Graduation Credit - After reviewing all the submitted forms and holding individual discussions with the student and/or the Placement Supervisor(s), if necessary, the Coordinator will certify to the Registrar whether the student has completed the requirement satisfactorily. While no academic credit will be given for the pro bono work, the fulfillment of the requirement will be recorded through the Registrar's Office. The Coordinator will submit a list of names near the end of each semester to the Registrar, certifying that the students listed have satisfactorily completed the requirement. Completion will be reflected on the transcript for that same semester signified by the letter "P". Once a student is enrolled, the letters "IP" (signifying the work is "in progress") will appear on the transcript each semester until the student completes the requirement. If a student enrolls in the program and does not complete the minimum requirement it is the student’s responsibility to withdraw from the pro bono program to avoid having an incomplete on the transcript. This is especially important for students that are looking to graduate.
Confidentiality - Students should treat their pro bono work just as they would a clerkship with a firm or a judge. Students are instructed to keep the information they obtain about a case or a client confidential.
Conflicts of Interest - Students are responsible for identifying and acknowledging any actual or potential conflicts of interest with a placement site. You are referred to the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct in making this inquiry. The Placement Confirmation Form requires that each student sign the form certifying that, to the student's knowledge, there is no conflict of interest. The form requires that students contact the Pro Bono Coordinator and the Placement Supervisor if questions regarding potential conflicts of interest arise at any time after work begins on a project.
Avoiding Unauthorized Practice of Law - Students and Placement Supervisors are strongly advised to take all possible precautions to avoid the unauthorized practice of law. Law students are NOT authorized to practice law without the direct supervision of an attorney. Each placement sponsor agrees to have in place a system whereby any of the student's legal work product, be it written, verbal, or otherwise, is reviewed by an attorney prior to its use by the Placement Sponsor.
Public Relations - Students may from time to time be photographed by the media or the law school and interviewed in conjunction with their work as participants in the Gillis Long Pro Bono Program. In addition, written comments from certain students or supervisor evaluations may reflect favorably on certain aspects of the program. Statistics from student and supervisor evaluations will be compiled from time to time for annual reports and other uses. Such publicity is beneficial for the program and the law school, and student cooperation is encouraged. If students wish to be excluded from such public relations efforts, they must advise the Pro Bono Coordinator in writing.
Placement Sponsors should closely supervise students and, to the extent possible, give the student regular evaluations regarding his/her work. Placement Sponsors should complete the student evaluations provided by the College of Law at the completion of the placement.
B. Assignment of Work/Evaluation
If a case or project will extend slightly beyond fifty (50) hours, students are strongly encouraged to complete the assignment. However, students are not required by the College of Law to work beyond fifty (50) hours to fulfill the Gillis Long Pro Bono Program option to the Law and Poverty requirement. Please take this into account when making assignments.
C. Avoiding Unauthorized Practice of Law By Students
It is of the utmost importance that both supervisors and law students understand the division of responsibility with regard to legal matters, and that both supervisors and students make every effort to avoid engaging or aiding in the unauthorized practice of law. Supervisors must exercise diligence to insure that the student(s) do(es) not engage in the unauthorized practice of law during the performance of his or her duties for the Placement Sponsor.
By accepting a Loyola University College of Law student through the Gillis Long Pro Bono Program, the Placement Sponsor acknowledges that the Placement Sponsor, not the College of Law, nor the Gillis Long Pro Bono Program, has the responsibility for the work to be performed by the student(s) during placement. Such supervision includes the obligation to insure that the student(s) do(es) not engage in any service rendered involving legal knowledge or legal advice, whether representation, counsel, or advocacy in or out of court, rendered in respect to the rights duties, obligations, liabilities, or business relations of one requiring services, unless the activities of the student(s) is (are) under the direct and personal supervision of an attorney in good standing of the bar of the State of Louisiana (or other state where the public service work is being performed).
By accepting a Loyola University College of Law student for pro bono work, the Placement Sponsor also acknowledges that the Gillis Long Pro Bono Program is not a clinical program.
All students must be working under the direct supervision of an attorney. The attorney/supervisor has the ultimate responsibility for the legal matters being worked on by students. The Placement Sponsor agrees that he/she will not rely upon the work product of Loyola University College of Law students in taking or declining to take any actions which may subject the organization, its board of directors, employees, or agents to legal process. Loyola University College of Law students should not be used as substitutes for consultation by the Placement Sponsor with legal counsel.
Listed below are names and descriptions of law-related agencies that welcome Student Pro Bono volunteers. Where available, the link to each agency's website is included. This list is not exhaustive. If you would like to learn about other opportunities, please see Judson Mitchell, Pro Bono Coordinator, in Room 305 of the Broadway Building. If you have your own idea about where you would like to do your pro bono work, feel free to submit a Student Initiated Placement Form for approval.
"CrescentCare Legal Services (formerly AIDSLaw of Louisiana, Inc.) provides free civil legal aid to income eligible persons in Louisiana with legal issues involving matters related to or arising from their HIV status. Persons living with HIV/AIDS, as well as their loved ones, face a variety of problems requiring the assistance of legal professionals with experience in various areas of the law. Without the help of CCLS attorneys, unmet legal needs would negatively impact clients’ health."
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
"Concerned over making decisions about abused and neglected children's lives without sufficient information, a Seattle judge conceived the idea of using trained community volunteers to speak for the best interests of these children in court. So successful was this Seattle program that soon judges across the country began utilizing citizen advocates. In 1990, the U.S. Congress encouraged the expansion of CASA with passage of the Victims of Child Abuse Act. Today more than 900 CASA programs are in operation, with 42,400 women and men serving as CASA volunteers..."
Court Watch NOLA
"CWN has recruited, trained, and supported volunteers in observing and reporting on whether our judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and other public servants are doing their jobs professionally, transparently, and without wasting taxpayer resources. CWN volunteers track hundreds of felony cases, and their daily and visible presence in the courtroom helps identify systemic problems while sending the message that our community cares about making the courts more accountable and just."
The Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center (LaFHAC)
"The Fair Housing Action Center, Inc., or FHAC, was established in August 1995 with help from the National Fair Housing Alliance and a grant from U.S. HUD. FHAC is a private, non-profit organization that will work to further the goal of fair housing and open neighborhoods in the greater New Orleans area..."
Federal Public Defender for the Eastern District of La.
Defense counsel for indigent persons accused of federal crimes in the Eastern District of Louisiana, appointed by the federal court.
Homeless Advocacy Program
A program of the Loyola Law Clinic which provides legal services to homeless persons in the New Orleans area. Students who participate in the program assist the staff attorney in client outreach and litigation.
Immigration Detention Project--Loyola Law Clinic
A joint program of the Loyola Law Clinic and Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) which provides legal services and information to immigrants detained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) at Orleans Parish Prison and other facilities. Clients include applicants for asylum, immigrants with criminal convictions, and so-called "indefinite" detainees who cannot be returned to their home countries. Students will have the opportunity to interview detainees, give "Know Your Rights" presentations to groups of detainees, conduct research and write briefs for Immigration Court hearings, or represent detained clients in interviews before the INS. Beginning in January 2001, students may also write appellate briefs for detained immigrants.
Orleans Public Defender
"The office of the Orleans Public Defenders is an independent legal office responsible for providing legal representation to indigent individuals charged with criminal offenses in the Orleans Parish. The new OPD office houses a full-time staff of public defenders, investigators and administrative personnel as well as a corps of volunteers, interns, and law clerks. "
Innocence Project of New Orleans
The Innocence Project New Orleans is a newly organized non-profit which represents indigent prisoners serving life sentences who have provable claims of actual innocence. Some of IPNO's cases involve pursuit of biological evidence for possible DNA testing. Student duties include obtaining relevant records from state and private entities, case investigation (e.g, locating evidence for DNA testing, interviewing witnesses, crime scene investigation), legal research, brief/memorandum writing, and hearing preparation.
Provides assistance, including legal assistance, to victims of domestic violence.
"Refugee and Immigration Services assists aliens and refugees through a variety of legal services, social services including job counseling, social adjustment, ESL classes, Health Screening programs. Resettlement services are offered for newly arrived refugees. Special programs are targeted to needs of Vietnamese Youth."
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
"Twenty-two parishes. Six offices. 100+ attorneys, staff and volunteers. SLLS is Louisiana's largest provider of free civil legal aid. SLLS serves half of Louisiana's low-income people. In many areas of our 22-parish service area SLLS is the only organization that can help. "
The Pro Bono Project
Provides civil legal services to indigent persons in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, and Washington Parishes.
Volunteer law students who provide income tax assistance to low-income filers.
Below are some frequently asked questions and answers about the Pro Bono program. If these do not answer your question, please contact the Pro Bono Coordinator, Judson Mitchell.
Who can participate in the program?
A Loyola University College of Law student at any time during his or her law school career.
How do I get pro bono credit?
Do fifty (50) or more hours of pro bono work at an approved placement. You may not receive compensation or class credit for any of this work. Placements listed on this site are pre-approved and you can being work immediately, assuming a spot is available for you. If you need help arranging a placement or if you wish to get pre-approval for a non-listed placement, please email Judson Mitchell for help.
Once you have completed at least fifty hours, you must register your pro bono work. To do this, submit your information here (redirects to loyolalawtech.org). You will be asked to provide information about your work and provide documentation from your supervisor of the hours you worked. Once your registration is reviewed by the Pro Bono Coordinator, you will be notified of your completion of the Pro Bono program.
Will I get credit hours for participating in the Pro Bono Program?
No. Participation in the Pro Bono Program does not earn you credit hours. Successful completion of the program does, however, satisfy the Law and Poverty requirement, a requirement for graduation.
Where can I volunteer?
You can volunteer at any approved placement. The placements listed on this site are pre-approved. If you wish to propose a different placement, you are advised to submit a request for pre-approval to Judson Mitchell. If you do not get pre-approval, your request for pro bono credit may be denied. A general description of requirements for a placement can be found in the Guidelines above.
Do I have to do my 50 hours in one semester?
No. You can complete your hours at any time during your law school career, assuming that this is acceptable to the supervisor at your placement.
Does the Gillis Long Pro Bono Program provide legal services?
No. The program provides volunteer law students to work in programs that DO provide legal services. If you need free legal assistance, you should start looking at Lawhelp.org.