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External Pro Bono Placements

In addition to working with one (or more!) of our student pro bono groups, Penn Law students are welcome to do pro bono through self-initiated placements or external pro bono opportunities organized by TPIC at community public interest organizations and government agencies. These organizations often need law student volunteers to aid them in the important work they do.

All opportunities posted meet Penn Law’s pro bono eligibility guidelines. We also indicate if an opportunity meets the NY Bar guidelines. Click below to see a list of the current pro bono opportunities.

Current External Opportunities

Click on an opportunity to learn more:

Federal Reentry Court

• National Constitution Center

• Board of Ethics

• American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania

Office of Disciplinary Counsel

• CHILD USA

• Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia

• City of Philadelphia Law Department

• Ceiba

• Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts (PMC)

• Public Health Management Corporation

• Philadelphia Bar Association

• The Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement

• Pennsylvania Prison Society

 

Federal Reentry Court

Description

The work is likely to be New York Bar eligible. 

Supervision to Aid Reentry (“STAR”) is an initiative of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that assists previously incarcerated federal prisoners, who live in Philadelphia, to successfully reenter the community. Federal judges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Public Defender’s Office, the U.S. Probation Office, the Reentry Coordinator, and the Legal Intern Coordinator, work together as a team to discuss each participant’s progress and develop plans to help the participants succeed.  As part of the program, participants attend bi-monthly open court sessions before a judge for fifty-two weeks and receive support and supervision from the U.S. Probation Office.  The program features myriad objectives, including preventing recidivism, reducing the high rate of violent crime in Philadelphia, and assisting high- risk ex-offenders with the multiple social, family, and logistical issues they must confront upon their return to society after years in prison.         

Students will receive pro bono credit for the assistance they provide to STAR participants.  Students must make a year-long commitment of 8-10 hours per week to the pro bono project.  Part of that commitment includes participation in either Morning or Afternoon Reentry Court. Morning Reentry Court occurs every other Tuesday from 8:35 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.  Afternoon Reentry Court occurs every other Wednesday from 2:45 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.  Some of the legal issues that students have assisted participants with include: challenging traffic violations and fines, obtaining a driver’s license or occupational license, opening a default judgment entered while incarcerated, challenging arrears on child support accrued while incarcerated, business planning/non-profit formation, and landlord/tenant disputes.  The bulk of in-court student representation takes place in the Traffic Division of Philadelphia Municipal Court.

To Express Interest 

This pro bono project comes with the opportunity to participate in an independent study and receive credit. Interested students should contact Hilary Wiesel at hwiesel@law.upenn.edu as soon as possible.

 

National Constitution Center 

Who can Participate 

All Students 

Organization Website 

www.constitutioncenter.org 

Description 

The work is likely to be New York Bar eligible. 

Interns will work closely with the National Constitution Center’s Senior Fellow for Constitutional Studies to produce top-quality constitutional content for the NCC’s debates, events, podcasts, exhibits, and scholarship. Tasks will include background research for the Center’s President and its Senior Fellow on a variety of contemporary constitutional issues and on key topics in constitutional history. The project and work will support this non-profit to promote constitutional education and civil dialogue. 

Time Commitment 

4-6 hours per week (this is flexible) 

Course Requirements or Pre-Requisites 

Constitutional law 

To Express Interest 

Email your resume to Hillary Wiesel, hwiesel@law.upenn.edu

Board of Ethics

Who can Participate 

All Students 

Organization Website 

http://www.phila.gov/ethicsboard/Pages/default.aspx

Description 

The work is likely to be New York Bar eligible. 

One student is needed to conduct research related to Board investigations and enforcement actions and also to assist with the Board’s compliance and enforcement activities. The Board of Ethics is an independent City board charged with administering and enforcing the City’s ethics, campaign finance, and lobbying laws.

Time Commitment 

10-15 hours of work per week and some of the work could be done remotely.

To Express Interest 

Email Director of Enforcement Michael Cooke, michael.cooke@phila.gov, with a resume and writing sample. 

 

American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania

Who can Participate

All Students

Organizations Website

https://www.aclupa.org/

Description

The work is likely to be New York Bar eligible.

Through advocacy, education and litigation, our attorneys, advocates and volunteers work to preserve and promote civil liberties including the freedom of speech, the right to privacy, reproductive freedom, and equal treatment under the law. We stand in defense of the rights of women and minorities, workers, students, immigrants, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and others who have seen bias and bigotry threaten the rights afforded to all of us in this country by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Thousands of Pennsylvanians are jailed each year because they are too poor to pay court fines and fees stemming from municipal violations, traffic offenses, summary offenses, and the like. The law student volunteer will help sort through data obtained through open records requests, reviews of court records, and courtroom observations to help better understand the scope of the problem. Because different courts take varying approaches to collecting these fines and fees, the volunteer will also help track local and regional court practices. There will be a particular focus on the practices of courts in the counties surrounding Philadelphia. This project will be one part of an effort to end debtors’ prison practices in Pennsylvania. 

Time Commitment

5-10 hours per week

To Express Interest

Email the supervising attorney, Andrew Christy achristy@aclupa.org, directly. 

 

Office of Disciplinary Counsel

Who Can Participate

All Students

Description

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (ODC) seeks a pro bono intern interested in assisting with the investigation and prosecution of complaints of violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct.  The intern would be responsible, under the supervision of an assigned Disciplinary Counsel, for: reviewing complaints of lawyer misconduct; performing legal research; writing legal memoranda; drafting chronologies; preparing exhibits for hearings; memorializing witness interviews; and participating in discussions regarding the handling of complaints and hearing strategy.  Intern would be immersed into interesting fact patterns and be exposed to a wide variety of law, including criminal, immigration, bankruptcy, personal injury, and domestic relations. Please note, student must pass a criminal background check.

To Express Interest

Email your resume, unofficial transcript, and writing sample to Harriet R. Brumberg (Harriet.Brumberg@pacourts.us) 

 

CHILD USA

Who can Participate

All Students

Organization Website

www.childusa.org

Description

The work is likely to be New York Bar eligible.

Prof. Marci A. Hamilton (University of Pennsylvania, SAS), Dr. Steven Berkowitz (Penn Medicine), and Dr. Paul Offit (CHOP) have launched the first-of-its-kind interdisciplinary nonprofit think tank to study and document how the legal and medical systems affect victims of child abuse and neglect. Our mission is to generate studies to establish best practices to build a victim-centered medico-legal system and to launch the go-to website for evidence-based information in the field.

(CHILD is an acronym for Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty)

We are seeking 1-2 Penn law students/semester to work on cutting edge legal research involving child sexual abuse and/or medical neglect of children and the legal system.  The focus is on a nationwide study involving child rape kits and another involving statutes of limitations for child sex abuse victims.

Time Commitment

6-10 hours/week

To Express Interest

Email supervising attorney, Marci Hamilton hamilton.marci@gmail.com, directly. 

 

Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP)

Who can Participate

All Students

Organization Website

http://www.pilcop.org/

Description

The work is likely to be New York Bar eligible.

The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization focused on representing individuals and organizations challenging policies and practices that perpetuate discrimination, inequality and poverty, is looking for legal interns. Interns will research and write about diverse issues related to pending and future litigation. PILCOP is looking for students interested in poverty law, specifically related to education and housing.

Time Commitment

Total of 35-40 hours across the semester. Commitments will vary based on the ebbs and flow of litigation. Most work can be done remotely but some in-person training and meetings will be required.

To Express Interest

Email your resume and a brief letter of interest to Hillary Wiesel, hwiesel@law.upenn.edu 

 

City of Philadelphia Law Department

Who Can Participate
All Students

Organization Website

http://www.phila.gov/law/Pages/default.aspx

Description

This opportunity is likely to be New York Bar eligible.

The Law Department’s civil practice includes unique issues involving public interest. Our lawyers help chart the course for the City in business, health, safety, commerce, civil rights, taxation, and community development.Working with the City Solicitor, our lawyers prepare contracts and other legal documents to which the City is a party. Each year, hundreds of ordinances are drafted within the Law Department. Advice is provided to the Mayor, City Council and the operating departments so the City can manage risk and develop proactive and sound policies. Thus, the work of our lawyers significantly influences the projects and outcomes of the City of Philadelphia. For this reason, our lawyers are routinely provided with intellectual challenge and the satisfaction of knowing their legal work makes a difference in the lives of the citizens of Philadelphia.

Assignments will vary depending on the unit assigned and the discretion of the supervising attorney.

Time commitment: will vary by department

To Express Interest

Email your resume and letter of interest to Hillary Wiesel (hwiesel@law.upenn.edu) 

 

CEIBA

Who Can Participate
All Students

Organization Website

http://ceibaphiladelphia.org/

Description

This opportunity is likely to be New York Bar eligible.

Ceiba has several direct client and research projects available for Penn Law students. Ceiba is looking for students who have a significant interest in poverty law, specifically issues of immigration and/or housing.

Time commitment: 4-8 hours per week.

To Express Interest

Email your resume and brief letter of interest to Hillary Wiesel, hwiesel@law.upenn.edu

 

Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts

Who Can Participate

PMC is seeking self-motivated interns with excellent research and writing abilities and a strong commitment to social justice. Students with a background in public policy, education and/or public interest law are encouraged to apply.

Organization Website

www.pmconline.org

Description

This opportunity is likely to be NY Bar eligible.

Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting equal access to justice, civic education, and judicial modernization and reform. In addition to advocating for systemic policy changes, such as merit selection of statewide appellate judges, Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts engages in numerous educational and reform initiatives.

Responsibilities may include: Conducting legal research and writing on court reform issues in Pennsylvania and nationally; Engaging with pro se litigants and connecting helpline callers to appropriate resources; Observing and participating in aspects of the legislative process; Attending and reporting on court proceedings to identify potential areas of systemic improvement; Determining additional short-term mechanisms of furthering PMC’s goals, and devising ways to implement these mechanisms

Time Commitment: ~10 hours per week.

To Express Interest

Email your resume, cover letter, and availability to Hillary Wiesel, hwiesel@law.upenn.edu

 

Public Health Management Corporation 

Who Can Participate 
3Ls preferred 

Organization Website 

http://www.phmc.org/site/index.php 

Description 

This opportunity is likely to be New York Bar eligible. 

The participating student will primarily work with the NNCC’s Law and Policy Manager on a project developed in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, assessing the policy and legal landscape of opioid overdose and prevention in Pennsylvania and nationwide. The Legal Research Intern will report directly to NNCC’s Law and Policy Director and have the opportunity to collaborate on other research projects as needed.  

Responsibilities will also include: researching and evaluating state, county and city laws, regulations and policies relevant to current law and policy program projects; assisting with written components of current projects, including reports and white papers; assisting in the development and implementation of focus groups. 

Time commitment 

Variable, based upon student availability and current project needs. 

To Express Interest 

Email supervisor, Kelly Thompson, kthompson@nncc.us, directly. 

 

Philadelphia Bar Association

Who Can Participate
All Students

Organization Website

www.philadelphiabar.org

Description

This opportunity is likely to be New York Bar eligible.

The Philadelphia Bar Association, founded in 1802, is the oldest association of lawyers in the United States. It is a keystone in the ongoing developments of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania legal systems.

The Public Interest/Access to Justice Law Student Intern will work during the Fall 2017 semester on a variety of projects for the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Delivery of Legal Services Committee (DLSC) and the Civil Gideon and Access to Justice Task Force.

The internship is unpaid and must qualify for pro bono or internship/externship class credit.

To Express Interest

To apply, please send a resume, one writing sample, and a cover letter to Merril L. Zebe, Esq., Public Interest Coordinator, at mzebe@philabar.org.

 

The Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement

Who Can Participate

All Students

Organization Website

http://rendellcenter.org/

Description

The Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement is a non- profit organization started by Judge Marjorie Rendell and Governor Edward Rendell to promote civics education and engagement.  The Rendell Center offers opportunities for educators and the broader community to develop the knowledge, practices and dispositions of engaged citizenship.  For educators, the Rendell Center creates curriculum content, pedagogical tools, and professional development experiences.  For students, the Rendell Center develops literacy-based programs and experiential learning exercises. 

We are looking for dynamic, innovative and passionate individuals interested in joining our team to assist in the development of civics/literacy curriculum for students in grades k-6. The curriculum has a strong legal focus and includes the development of Literacy Based Mock trials. You will be contributing to the development of the vision and scope of new curriculum projects and ongoing development and publication of daily and weekly content materials.

Time Commitment: 4-6 hours per week

Skills/knowledge

Pennsylvania law requires all volunteers in the Philadelphia School District to complete background checks. Contact TPIC for guidance in navigating this process.

To Express Interest

Email your resume and letter of interest to Hillary Wiesel, hwiesel@law.upenn.edu

 

Pennsylvania Prison Society

Who can Participate 

All Students 

Organization Website 

http://www.prisonsociety.org/

Description 

Established in 1787 by members of the Continental Congress, including Dr. Benjamin Rush and Benjamin Franklin, the Prison Society’s mission then, and today, is to advocate for a humane and effective criminal justice system – one in which individuals convicted of crimes are treated with “humanity” and are aided in returning to lives of “virtue and happiness.” The Society seeks law student assistance to help with various projects central to the work of the Prison Society such as researching and drafting memos about the Official Visitor Act and Pennsylvania’s incarcerated population.

To Express Interest 

Email your resume and 1-3 page writing sample to Hillary Wiesel, hwiesel@law.upenn.edu