There are many ways to serve the community, gain practical skills, and earn pro bono hours. Students can pursue pro bono opportunities through avenues outside of Student-Initiated Legal Services Projects (SLPS) and Berkeley Law Alternative Service Trips (BLAST). We have highlighted some specific opportunities below, along with general resources for finding pro bono opportunities. You may also contact the Director of the Pro Bono Program, Deborah Schlosberg, for assistance in finding the right pro bono opportunity for you.
IMPORTANT: Please be sure to assess whether any particular opportunity meets the criteria for summer public interest/public sector stipends (“Dean’s Grants”), the New York Bar, the Pro Bono Pledge, or any other pro bono requirement.
If you are a legal services organization seeking law students to assist with a pro bono project, please click here.
Wildfires devastated many communities in Northern California. Here are some ways that you can help:
- Legal Aid of Sonoma County has an online sign-up form on their website for anyone interested in volunteering. Please visit their home page at http://legalaidsc.org/ and click on the red “Fire Attorney Volunteer” button to register. The organization plans to run informational clinics and provide direct client services.
- OneJustice is acting as a clearinghouse for fire-related legal efforts and has set up a webpage with the most current information.
If you would like to help provide legal assistance to survivors of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, or Hurricane Maria, please visit the ABA’s Disaster Relief webpage for more information about how you can help.
Specific Opportunities for Law Students
After Innocence provides re-entry assistance for exonerees–people who have been imprisoned for crimes they did not commit–and advocates for policy reform on their behalf. Law student volunteers will be working on a “clean slate” project to ensure that exonerees’ criminal records and general background checks accurately reflect their criminal histories. This work is important in helping exonerees find jobs and housing, and restore rights and dignity after release. Students may also have the opportunity to assist with other direct services work and policy work (research and drafting of legislation). Policy work may include social security and medicare reform, both of which currently do not account for or provide exceptions for people who have been wrongfully convicted. Training will be provided. One semester commitment (minimum 25 hours), with option to continue the following semester. All JD class years and LL.M.s are welcome to apply.
How to apply: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with a short paragraph about why this project looks interesting, along with a resume.
Oasis Legal Services
Oasis Legal Services is dedicated to helping LGBTQ immigrants apply for asylum in the United States. The Oasis staff helps to guide them through the process of applying for asylum in a safe and compassionate environment.
Oasis is looking for law student interns who are passionate about immigrants’ rights, LGBTQ rights, and providing legal services to underrepresented low-income communities. Law student volunteers will work directly with clients, drafting client declarations, filling out forms, and representing clients at administrative hearings. Prior knowledge of immigration or asylum law is not necessary. Legal staff will train volunteers on the relevant law and procedure, and will supervise interns closely. A minimum commitment of eight hours per week for at least one semester is required. Volunteers will work out of our downtown Oakland office. All J.D. class years and L.L.M.s are welcome to apply.
How to apply: Please send your resume and a brief explanation of why this position interests you to Rachel Kafele at email@example.com.
Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus
Students work in collaboration with the Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (ALC) in San Francisco to provide legal outreach and assistance to individuals and communities impacted by post-9/11 profiling and discrimination. Students gain substantive knowledge of national security, privacy, immigration, and civil rights issues, as well as training on issue spotting and client interaction. Students also will have the opportunity to work under the supervision of an attorney on community driven legal research projects. The time commitment is approximately 10-15 hours per semester. All JD class years and LL.M.s are welcome to apply.
How to apply: Please contact Christina Sinha at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phillips Black Project
Legal Aid Association of California LiveChat Project
The Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC) is currently seeking law student volunteers as Live Chat Operators to help people navigate LawHelpCA.org, the official statewide resource for self-help legal referrals and information. Live Chat helps people navigate the website. Live Chat volunteers provide direct, person-to-person help for someone in a stressful and alienating legal situation who needs a kind, human response. After a few training sessions in Oakland, you can participate from any computer with internet access. Volunteers do not need to have any prior legal knowledge and will receive training, supervision, and support from LAAC staff. All JD class years and LL.M.s are welcome to apply.
How to apply: Contact David Latt at email@example.com or 510-893-3000 x 102.
Community Legal Assistance Saturday Project (CLASP)
The Community Legal Assistance Saturday Project (CLASP) is a free drop-in legal clinic offered by the Volunteer Legal Services Corporation of the Alameda County Bar Association. Law student volunteers will have the opportunity to interact with clients, conduct intake interviews, observe lawyers provide consultations across a broad spectrum of practice areas. CLASP is held on the first Saturday a month at the Alameda County Law Library in downtown Oakland. Volunteers are asked to commit from 10am until 2pm. All JD class years and LL.M.s are welcome to apply.
Sustainable Economies Law Center
The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) cultivates a new legal landscape that supports community resilience and grassroots economic empowerment. Potential projects for students include:
- Legal intakes at our monthly Resilient Communities Legal Cafe
- Research and present on discrete legal topics at our Think Outside the Boss workshop for worker cooperatives
- Contribute toward a new half-day workshop and manual on how to start a housing cooperative
- Dig into outstanding legal questions SELC has identified regarding the legal gray areas that community-owned enterprises often face
- Write up easy-to-understand summaries of legal issues to publish on our online libraries
All JD class years and LL.M.s are welcome to apply.
How to apply: Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a description of your interest in SELC’s work and which of the above projects you are interested in.
Worksafe is a California-based organization dedicated to making workplaces safer and healthier for workers. In California, nearly one worker dies every day from a workplace hazard. Nationwide, nearly 12-13 workers die. The majority of these workers are Latino. We work hard to make sure workers’ voices are heard, that workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths are prevented, and that workers are protected by strong laws and effective government agencies. Come join our team and make a difference in workers’ lives!
The Worksafe pro bono volunteer will work under the direction of the Managing Attorney and assist with Worksafe’s legal and policy work regarding occupational health and safety. Responsibilities will vary depending upon Worksafe’s priority projects at the time of the internship and the intern’s interests and qualifications. All JD class years and LL.M.s are welcome to apply.
How to apply: Please send your cover letter, resume, writing sample, latest transcript, and list of references to email@example.com. Please include your last name in the subject line of your email and in the filenames of attachments.
Transgender Law Center
The Transgender Law Center’s Legal Information Helpline needs volunteers! Volunteers will learn about the legal rights of trans and gender nonconforming people, and assist people with legal questions. The Legal Information Helpline provides basic information about laws and policies that affect transgender people, including employment, health care, civil rights, housing, family law, and identity document changes. We also provide information about resources available for people who are facing other forms of discrimination and civil rights issues.
Volunteers read and respond to helpline emails with appropriate information and resources, conduct phone intakes of potential clients and learn how to operate our database. Volunteering requires no legal background or experience. Qualifications: Strong commitment to racial justice and transgender rights. All JD class years and LL.M.s are welcome to apply.
How to apply: Apply at http://transgenderlawcenter.org/volunteer-opportunities.
Social Justice Collaborative
The Social Justice Collaborative (SJC) is a deportation defense organization that helps low income non-citizens. Student volunteers engage in a variety of legal activities, mostly handling their own “cases” with close attorney supervision. The time commitment varies based on students’ availability. A minimum commitment of one semester is required. SJC takes training and supervision very seriously. There are mandatory training videos and on-site training, as well as close supervision involving case rounds and other ad hoc programs. The case work is most appropriate for JD 2Ls and 3Ls, but 1Ls are welcome to apply for legal research and writing opportunities.
How to apply: Please email a brief cover letter explaining your interest and your current resume to internships@
Yolanda Huang - Solo Practitioner
This is an opportunity to work with a solo practitioner who is a Berkeley Law alum and civil rights/impact litigation lawyer. Ms. Huang is seeking assistance with a pro bono matter involving four individuals who were arrested during a Black Lives Matter protest in Stockton. Students will assist with legal research and writing, and will also be involved in working with the community. Training will be provided and students can work remotely.
Students are asked to commit to at least one half-day per week for the Fall 2017 semester. Students may have the option to continue working on this project in the Spring. The work is most appropriate for 2Ls and 3Ls.
How to apply: Please email a cover letter describing your interest and background to yhuang.law
Other Potential Pro Bono Opportunities
General Resources for Pro Bono Opportunities
- b-Line (Berkeley Law Recruiting Online)
The Berkeley Law Pro Bono Program does not provide any direct legal assistance and does not refer individuals and organizations seeking assistance to private attorneys. Law students are not permitted to represent individuals in legal matters unless they are working under the supervision of a licensed attorney. Faculty members make individual decisions about pro bono projects; please contact them directly. Please do not telephone, e-mail or write to the Pro Bono Program with legal questions or requests for referrals as we are unable to respond to these inquiries. If you believe you need a lawyer, please contact your local bar association at sfbar.org or http://www.acbanet.org/ or the East Bay Community Law Center.
The California State Bar also provides resources for Californians who need help finding an attorney as well as ways to avoid fraud from notarios and other people posing as attorneys.