Berkeley Law’s Pro Bono Program offers all students the opportunity to engage in meaningful public interest work. Students can engage in pro bono work through different means. Regardless of the path you choose, you will gain practical skills while bringing life-changing legal services to underserved communities.
Why might LL.M.’s students engage in Pro Bono work?
- To promote the public interest and pursue justice
- To follow your passion
- Earn Pro Bono hours for New York Bar admission requirements*
- Recognition at Berkeley Law’s Public Interest and Pro Bono Graduation
These projects are designed to utilize the unique skills and diversity of our LL.M. student body. The organizations your pro bono effort will support have specifically requested LL.M. students for this work.
International Lawyers Assisting Workers (ILAW) provides resources to attorneys worldwide, who are supporting workers. ILAW Network facilitates information exchanges and promotes collaboration among its members to develop creative solutions to promote workers’ rights around the world – through campaigns, policy analysis, litigation, and legislation. Students in this project will choose topic areas and conduct research that supports member attorneys around the globe, often researching the students’ home countries. These attorneys operate in a diversity of legal systems and cultures, but the causes are the same – to support workers and their organizations in the exercise of their fundamental rights by challenging repressive laws, regulations, and practices by governments or global corporations.
Projects that LL.M. students have worked on in the past include identifying/summarizing important new labor and employment developments for posting on the ILAW website’s resource library; researching for a comparative study on migrant worker wage theft; assisting with a comparative study on legal and practical obstacles to access and enforcement of employment anti-discrimination laws; researching international arbitrability standards in connection with supply chain contracts that need strong enforcement mechanisms; and helping with a global survey of litigation relating to the employment status of platform economy (e.g. Uber, Lyft) drivers.
Students will be supervised by Jon Hiatt, former General Counsel of the AFL-CIO.
To join this project complete this form.
Students can engage in pro bono legal work with external legal services organizations or government offices on an independent basis. While there is no deadline for applying to an external organization to engage in pro bono work, students are encouraged to begin the process of initiating the work early in the semester. There are many legal services organizations in the Bay Area with which students can engage in pro bono work. Below is a short list of some of the organizations with which LL.M. students have performed pro bono work in recent years:
- Legal Aid Association of California
- Legal Access Corp volunteer law student project. Students gain public interest experience by providing direct person-to-person help, for members of the public, seeking assistance navigating self-help resources and information, and finding organizations that may be able to assist with their legal issue. Students will receive training and hands on practice with issue spotting from LAAC. Minimum commitment is 2-10 hours per week. The commitment is for one-semester with an option for students to continue the following semester. After completing training in downtown Oakland, students can perform the work from any computer with internet access, making this a flexible option for earning pro bono hours.
- Students can read more here.
- And apply online here.
- Legal Access Alameda
- Legal Access Alameda is the pro bono arm of the Alameda County Bar Association. Legal Access runs a Community Legal Assistance Saturday Program on the first Saturday of the month with client intake from 10:30 a.m.-noon at the Alameda County Law Library, 125 12th Street, Oakland. Clients seek brief advice or referral in a legal matter on a wide spectrum of areas of law, including family, immigration, housing, employment, consumer, bankruptcy, personal injury, trusts & estates, real estate and more.
- Law students can apply to volunteer at the monthly CLASP clinic for intake, handling client flow, and drafting simple letters and forms under the supervision of an attorney. Fluency in Spanish, Mandarin or Cantonese preferred. Students interested in volunteering at Legal Access Alameda’s CLASP clinics should review and follow the instructions here.
- San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative (Immigration Clinics)
- The San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative is a collaborative of trusted community-based immigration service providers that help individuals apply for U.S. citizenship through free, large group-processing workshops. Students interested in volunteering can sign up for SF Pathways list serve and read more about volunteer roles and responsibilities at this link: https://sfcitizenship.org/get-involved/volunteer/
- All volunteer training is provided via email communication and in-person on the day of the workshop. If you speak Spanish, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin, or any other second language including American Sign Language, your interpretation assistance for limited English proficient applicants is needed and appreciated!
Student-Initiated Legal Services Projects (SLPS) are student run, community-based pro bono projects and are involved in direct client service, legal research, educational outreach, and community organizing. The list of SLPS below are those we recommend for LL.M. students given the diversity of the LL.M. academic schedule, language skills, and common desire among LL.M. students to satisfy the New York Bar pro bono requirement. LL.M. students may apply to other SLPS – see details on each SLP page – but the opportunities listed below are those we specifically recommend for LL.M. students.
Some of the SLPS listed below require a full academic year commitment. Students should keep this in mind when applying as it may impact course selection or participation in other activities in the Spring Semester. On average, students are able to complete around 25 hours of pro bono work through a SLP project over the course of a year. LL.M. students interested in applying to join a SLP should go to the “How to apply” page and be mindful of the application deadline.
- Arts and Innovation Representation
- Berkeley Immigration Group
- California Asylum Representation Clinic
- Digital Rights Project
- East Bay Dreamers Project
- Environmental Conservation Outreach
- Family Defense Project
- Food Justice Project
- International Human Rights Workshop
- International Refugee Assistance Project
- Legal Automation Workshop
- Palestine Advocacy Legal Assistance Project
- Reproductive Justice Project
*NEW YORK BAR PRO BONO REQUIREMENT: We believe the projects listed above likely qualify for the NY Bar Admissions pro bono requirement, but we cannot guarantee that. Please be sure to speak to your Professional Development advisors in the Advanced Degree Programs Office and check with the New York State Bar. Students may also utilize the New York State Bar Admission: Pro Bono Requirement FAQs to determine if their work will satisfy the NY Bar Pro Bono Requirement and to learn more about the process of reporting pro bono work to the New York Bar. If you have a question about whether or not a pro bono project satisfies the pro bono requirement you can email the Advisory Committee on New York State Pro Bono Bar Admission Requirements appointed by the Chief Judge at ProBonoRule@nycourts.gov.
Finally, the NY Bar recognizes pro bono work performed (1) within a year before you commence the LL.M. degree, (2) during the LL.M. degree, or (3) after you graduate. Some students even wish to wait until you have passed the New York bar examination before you engage in qualifying pro bono work.