Other Community Pro Bono Opportunities

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 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 Melanie Rowen, 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 Melanie 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 Class of 2018 only) or the new Pro Bono Pledge (LLM students and JD Classes of 2019 and beyond), as applicable. The Pro Bono Pledge operates under the Honor Code; approval of non-SLPS projects is not required. Please contact the Pro Bono Program Director 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.

 


The recent fires have 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.
  • The State Bar of California is hosting a volunteer sign-up online for an emergency hotline and other pro bono opportunities at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JVZPFQG.
  • Once it is safe to do so, Bay Area Legal Aid will be mobilizing clinics and on-site services with staff and volunteers. Please check here for updates.
  • 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

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 christinas@advancingjustice-alc.org.

Phillips Black Project

The Phillips Black Project represents persons under sentences life without parole for juvenile offenses or death. Our attorneys have a shared commitment to providing the highest level of representation where the stakes are the highest. 
 
We practice across the country and concentrate our efforts on places where there has been a breakdown in the criminal justice process. Volunteer law students with Phillips Black will work on a range of projects related to ongoing litigation in our cases.  In the past, students have helped draft motions, reviewed chain of custody reports, conducted legal research, and digested social history records. Students work one-on-one with Phillips Black attorneys and are considered part of our case teams during their service.
 
How to apply: Please send your resume and a short letter of interest to j.mills@phillipsblack.org.

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 dlatt@laaconline.org or 510-893-3000 x 102.

After Innocence

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. All JD class years and LL.M.s are welcome to apply.

How to apply: Email jon@after-innocence.org 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 LL.M.s are welcome to apply.

How to apply: Please email sara@theselc.org with a description of your interest in SELC’s work and which of the above projects you are interested in.

Worksafe

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 jtrang@worksafe.org. Please include your last name in the subject line of your email and in the filenames of attachments.

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@socialjusticecollaborative.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. 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

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.

How to apply: Email Christina Wiellette at christina@acbanet.org and indicate your year in law school and any previous legal experience, as well as if you are fluent in any languages in additional to English, particularly Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin.

Suitcase Clinic

The Suitcase Clinic is a humanitarian student-run organization and volunteer community at Berkeley that provides free health and social services to the homeless and low-income populations here in the Bay Area. We are currently looking for law students to help our clients with legal issues ranging from unlawful detainers, disability cases, unfair dealings with the police, to domestic abuse cases. Volunteers will keep track of client cases, research legal issues, provide basic legal information to best of ability, and add to list of legal referrals and resources. Law students will gain experience in legal assistance and engage in direct client interaction.
 
The clinic runs every Tuesday night at the First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley from 6:15-9:00 PM. Volunteers must attend clinic at least two times per month. A one-semester commitment required. All JD class years and LL.M.s are welcome to apply.
 
How to apply: Email legal.suitcaseClinic@gmail.com.

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 cover letter explaining why this position interests you to Rachel Kafele at rachel.kafele@oasislegalservices.org.

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@gmail.com.


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.