Skip to main content

Student Pro Bono Projects

Filter By

Your Selections

Skills:

Topics:

Compassionate Release Collaborative (CRC)

The Compassionate Release Collaborative (CRC) is a new pro bono project that helps seriously ill inmates in Pennsylvania’s prisons file petitions for compassionate release.

What we do:

CRC’s process will be split into three stages: 1) intake, 2) legal representation, and 3) continued care. At the first stage, CRC screens potential clients and chooses to work with individuals whose cases seem appropriate for compassionate release. Second, CRC helps to collect the necessary paperwork and draft the compassionate release petition to be submitted on the client’s behalf. Finally, once compassionate release is granted, CRC works with the client’s loved ones to coordinate hospice care for the client upon release.

How we do it:

CRC partners with the Amistad Law Project, a West Philadelphia-based public interest law center and organizing project which provides free and low-cost legal services to individuals incarcerated in Pennsylvania. CRC volunteers may be asked to review potential clients’ intake information and draft memos assessing their appropriateness for compassionate release; correspond with selected clients to ensure the timely completion of necessary documents; and help draft compassionate release petitions under the supervision of Amistad.

How and when can I join:

CRC is seeking interested collaborators and volunteers. To be placed on our mailing list, please email Paul Sindberg (sindberg@pennlaw.upenn.edu).

What skills will I develop:

Criminal justice, interviewing & intake, memo writing, working with vulnerable clients, and drafting court pleadings.

Criminal Record Expungement Project (CREP)

The Criminal Record Expungement Project (C-REP) aims to reduce the negative effects of a criminal record on a person’s life, including limited access to employment, educational opportunities, housing, and public benefits.

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.

How we do it:

C-REP partners with the Philadelphia Lawyers 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 that take place on Saturdays in West Philadelphia. During these clinics, volunteers meet with clients, listen to their stories, and screen their criminal records for expungement-eligible (i.e. non-conviction) charges. Volunteers may be able to participate in more than one clinic depending on interest and availability. There is also an opportunity for volunteers to draft expungement petitions.

How and when can I join:

Visit C-REP at the fall pro bono sign-up fair and look out for the mandatory trainings in the fall semester, which will occur on September 17, 2021 and September 21, 2021. The time commitment for this project is flexible. Interested volunteers may also email the Co-Chairs, Amanda Smith (asmith13@pennlaw.upenn.edu) and Isabel Feldman (feldmani@pennlaw.upenn.edu).

What skills will I develop:

Interviewing & intake, client counseling, drafting court documents, and engaging with the community by working with vulnerable clients.

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, Adrianna Vallee and Grace Leppanen.

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, Mackenzie Libbey. 

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 develop 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 sessions per semester. Transportation for the one-hour trip is provided. The pandemic continues to affect access into the prison. PLEP leadership is working on developing alternative remote programming in the interim. Interested volunteers should sign up for the PLEP listserv to receive updates on resuming in-person classes.

How and when can I join:

Interested volunteers should email PLEP’s Co-Directors, Cal Barnett-Mayotte (cbarnet@pennlaw.upenn.edu), Lindsay Grier (lgrier@pennlaw.upenn.edu), and Corina Scott (corinas2@pennlaw.upenn.edu), for an application. You can also visit 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 preparation for a Moot Court or Mock Trial competition.

What we do:

We teach Philadelphia high school students basic Constitutional principles and provide an opportunity for enrichment in the social sciences. We also help students develop public speaking skills and build arguments so they can effectively perform in mock trial or moot court competitions in the Spring. Broadly, this program is intended to get students excited about legal principles and ideas.

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. We will also be hosting a new symposium for students in the first semester. In the spring, volunteers will prep their students on either (1) a fact pattern that focuses on a legal issue that highlights all 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:

Keep an eye out for an application in the Fall semester! We’ll be at the Pro Bono sign up fair as well. If you have any questions, please email YEP’s Director Jess Zalph (jzalph@pennlaw.upenn.edu).

What skills will I develop:

Community engagement, appellate advocacy, trial strategy, trial prep, classroom management, public speaking, presentation skills, education

Your selected filters returned no results.