Pro bono opportunities other than Student-Initiated Legal Services Projects (SLPS) offer students additional ways to serve their community, gain practical skills, and earn pro bono hours. We have highlighted some specific opportunities below, along with general resources for finding pro bono opportunities. If you need help finding a pro bono project, please contact Diana DiGennaro, the Pro Bono Program Director.
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.
- For Dean’s Grants, pre-approval of any non-SLPS pro bono project is required. The approval petition, available here, must be submitted before any pro bono service is performed. Please email your petition to Alex Lee, Associate Director for Public Interest & Public Sector Programs, Career Development Office, or bring a hard copy to the reception desk in 290 Simon Hall. Please contact Alex if you have any questions.
- For the Pro Bono Pledge, please determine whether your project qualifies as “pro bono” using the definition for the old Pro Bono Pledge (JD Classes of 2017 and 2018) or the new Pro Bono Pledge (JD Class of 2019 and LL.M. Class of 2017), as applicable. The Pro Bono Pledge operates under the Honor Code; approval of non-SLPS projects is not required. Please contact Diana if you have any questions.
If you are a legal services organization seeking law students to assist with a pro bono project, please click here.
Specific Opportunities for 2016-2017
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.
How to apply: Please contact Christina Sinha at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Phillips Black Project
The Phillips Black Project, a public interest law firm, provides legal representation to prisoners in the United States sentenced to the severest penalties under law. Phillips Black’s practice emphases are three-fold: providing the highest quality legal representation in state post-conviction proceedings; litigating breakdowns of the capital post-conviction process in state and federal courts; and leading strategic litigation to safeguard the integrity of the criminal justice system in the imposition of its severest penalties. Law student volunteers will assist with legal research and review and analysis of court records.
How to apply: Please send your resume and a short explanation of your interest to email@example.com.
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.
How to apply: Contact Timothy Ng at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-893-3000 x 102.
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. Other types of legal projects and policy work (research and drafting of legislation) may be available as well. Training will be provided. One semester commitment (minimum 25 hours), with option to continue the following semester.
How to apply: Email email@example.com with a short paragraph about why this project looks interesting, along with a resume.
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 LLMs 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 LLMs 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.
Animal Legal Defense Fund
The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s mission is to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. ALDF accomplishes this mission by filing high-impact lawsuits, providing free legal assistance and training to prosecutors, supporting animal protection laws and fighting harmful legislation, and providing resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. This project provides a chance to complete legal research, writing, and fact investigation on pending animal litigation issues and cases. Volunteers will be supervised top experts in animal law.
Student volunteers will work remotely and must commit to at least one semester and to work at least 20 hours per semester. The start and end dates are flexible. All JD class years and LLMs are welcome to apply.
How to apply: Express your interest in volunteering to ALDF Student Programs Attorney Kelly Levenda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. All JD class years and LLMs welcome!
How to apply: Apply at http://transgenderlawcenter.org/volunteer-opportunities. Applications are due October 7. Qualifications: Strong commitment to racial justice and transgender rights.
Community Legal Assistance Saturday Project (CLASP)
The Community Legal Assistance Saturday Project (CLASP) is a new community legal clinic offered by the Alameda County Bar Association. Law student volunteers will have the opportunity to interact directly with clients, improve their interviewing skills, and work with lawyers across a broad spectrum of practice areas. CLASP will be held one Saturday a month at the Alameda County Law Library. Volunteer attorneys who are experts in criminal, immigration, housing, employment, consumer, and other areas of law will advise the community members seeking assistance. Student volunteers conduct intake interviews. Second- and third-year students may be able assist with drafting documents (demand letters, answers, administrative complaints, etc.) under the direction of the attorneys. Training is provided the day of the event. All JD class years and LLMs welcome!
How to apply: Email Christina Wiellette at email@example.com with your cell phone number and indicate if you are fluent in any languages in addition to English. We particularly need students who are fluent in Spanish, Mandarin, and Cantonese.
KPIX/CBS5 Consumerwatch Project
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.