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Student Pro Bono Projects  

  • Student projects form the core of Penn Law’s pro bono experience by offering unique leadership and practical opportunities while helping under-served populations.

     

  • Criminal Record Expungement Project (CREP)

    The Criminal Record Expungement Project (C-REP) aims to ameliorate the negative effects of criminal records on the Philadelphia community as it is increasingly difficult for individuals with a criminal record to pursue employment, housing, benefits, and educational opportunities.

    What we do: 

    C-REP works with Philadelphians who have criminal records by conducting intake clinics for clients, processing intake applications, and filing petitions to expunge and redact non-conviction data from clients’ criminal records. C-REP has also been working to expand the ability of 2Ls and 3Ls to appear in court on behalf of our clients.

    How we do it:

    C-REP partners with the Philadelphia Lawyer’s for Social Equity (“PLSE”), a non-profit legal aid organization dedicated to improving the lives of low-income individuals who are affected by the Pennsylvania criminal justice system. There are three intake clinics per semester, which take place on Saturdays in West Philadelphia. During the clinics, volunteers meet with clients, listen to their stories and experiences, and screen their criminal records for expungement-eligible (i.e. non-conviction) charges. Volunteers may sign up for one or more clinic, depending on interest and availability. Volunteers who attend the relevant trainings may also draft expungement petitions, and 2Ls and 3Ls may litigate cases in court.

    How and when can I join:

    Visit C-REP at the fall pro bono sign-up fair, and look out for trainings in the fall semester. The time commitment for this project is flexible. Interested volunteers may also email the Co-Chairs, Valerie Snow and Grace Gale.

    What skills will I develop:

    Criminal justice, interviewing & intake, client counseling, working with vulnerable clients, draft court pleadings, in-court advocacy, community engagement.

    The work is likely to be New York Bar eligible.


  • Pardon Project

    The Pardon Project is committed to reducing the collateral consequences of criminal convictions by assisting Philadelphia residents with pardon applications.

    What we do: 

    We work with Philadelphia residents with criminal convictions that are seeking a pardon from the Governor. We work in collaboration with our client-partners in every aspect of the pardon application including helping secure court files, writing the required essays, and filling out the required forms.

    How we do it:

    The Pardon Project is a year-long pro-bono project where students are paired with at least one client-partner and work in collaboration with Community Legal Services. Students will work with the client-partner over the course of the year to complete the pardon application.

    How and when can I join:

    Applications are available in the Fall semester. Participants must attend training in the Fall and commit to the project for the full academic year. If you have questions, please email the Pardon Project Co-Directors, Maura Hallisey and Adrianna Vallee.

    What skills will I develop:

    Client counseling and interviewing skills, legal analysis skills, legal writing and advocacy skills.

    The work is likely to be New York Bar eligible. 


  • Penn Law’s Walk-In Legal Assistance Project (WILA)

    At a weekly clinic, WILA provides accessible civil legal services to people who are experiencing homelessness or are housing insecure.

    What we do: 

    Students complete intake services and assist with birth certificate applications, SSI/SSDI screenings, tax returns, landlord/tenant disputes, issues with public benefits, and other civil legal issues at a weekly meal program. Students may also complete work outside of the regular times of the clinic as required for cases or outreach projects.

    How we do it:

    People who are attending a weekly meal program come to the legal clinic’s station when they are looking for legal assistance or advocacy. Students conduct an intake interview and assist with completing the applicable civil legal services while working closely with the supervising attorney.

    Who we work with: 

    We work with clients who are housing insecure or experiencing homelessness at a weekly meal program, run by the University City Hospitality Coalition (UCHC). Additionally, WILA partners with the Homeless Advocacy Project, an organization that delivers legal services directly to people experiencing homelessness where they live and eat.

    How and when can I join:

    Students should complete WILA’s volunteer application during the first few weeks of the Fall semester. Upon acceptance, WILA volunteers must attend a Homeless Advocacy Project training, offered at the law school, before they can begin assisting clients. After the application period has closed, interested students should email WILA’s Volunteer Coordinator, Mary Felder.

    What skills will I develop:

    Interviewing and intake, client counseling, access to government and social services, community engagement, legal analysis.

    The work is likely to be New York Bar eligible. 


  • Prison Legal Education Project

    The goal of the Prison Legal Education Project is to work together with incarcerated people to jointly lead a seminar on legal research and writing skills.

    What we do: 

    The Penn Law Prison Legal Education Project works with people who are currently incarcerated in Pennsylvania state prisons to jointly lead a seminar on legal research and writing, at the prison facility. A goal of our curriculum is to help incarcerated people develop their legal research and writing skills so that they can successfully file pro se documents. The curriculum will build the fundamental building blocks incarcerated people need to interpret and craft legal arguments.

    How we do it:

    Volunteers work with incarcerated individuals at the prison facility during each lesson alongside 5-6 other Penn Law students. The class is collaborative and student-directed: volunteers will work together with the student-partners to review key aspects of legal research and writing and discuss relevant legal issues. Volunteers will make a year-long commitment, with 3-4 Friday sessions per semester. Transportation for the one-hour trip is provided.

    How and when can I join:

    Interested volunteers should email the Co-Leaders, Claire Samuleson and John Santoro, for a volunteer application. You can also come see us at the Pro Bono sign up fair!

    What skills will I develop:

    Working with incarcerated clients, community engagement, criminal justice, legal writing, legal analysis, classroom management, public speaking, presentation skills, education


  • Youth Education Program (YEP)

    The Youth Education Program (YEP) introduces high school students to the basics of law through weekly lessons and preparing students for a Mock Trial or Moot Court competition.

    What we do: 

    We teach Philadelphia high school students the basics of the rules of evidence, trial procedure, and basic Constitutional principles. We help students develop public speaking skills and build arguments so they can effectively perform in mock trial or moot court competitions.

    How we do it: Penn Law students teach in various Philadelphia Public High Schools and prepare high school students to participate in either Mock Trial or Moot Court competitions. Following basic legal lessons, in the fall semester Penn Law volunteers educate all high school classes on a Constitutional amendment. In the spring, volunteers will prep their students on either (1) a fact pattern that focuses on a legal issue that highlights all of the learned principles for the Moot Court Competition or (2) the assigned case for the Mock Trial Competition. The program culminates with the students competing against their peers from all the participating high schools in either a Mock Trial or Moot Court Competition.

    How and when can I join:

    Complete an application in the Fall semester. If you have any questions, please email YEP’s C-Directors, Sarah Noe, Phoebe Silos, and Joshua Salzer.

    What skills will I develop:

    Appellate advocacy, trial strategy, trial prep, community engagement, classroom management, public speaking, presentation skills, education


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