The Pro Bono Society allows students to work in small groups under the supervision of a community partner and the leadership of a student project director. The Pro Bono Program is governed by a student president and the executive board of the Pro Bono Society, who assist the pro bono coordinator in the day-to-day management of the Pro Bono Society's projects.
Each individual project is led by a student project director, who works closely with their community partner to develop their individual projects, delegate service assignments, and schedule and conduct trainings for student members. The community partner supervises students and works with the student project director to develop meaningful, appropriate and engaging service learning opportunities for projects members. Each project has a faculty advisor to assist the project directors in realizing their vision and meeting their goals. The pro bono coordinator provides institutional and program support to the Pro Bono Society and its projects.
The Pro Bono Society is constantly changing to reflect new student leaders' styles and personal interests, meet student participation demand, and reflect changing relationships with community partners.
Current service learning projects are:
- Albany County Family Court Help Desk
- Attorney for the Day
- Elder Law Project
- Education Law Project - In conjunction with the NYS Department of Education, the Charter Schools Office, students will be conducting research, producing educational materials for Charter School administrators, and reviewing legislation on bylaws.
- Immigration Project
- Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) - IRAP provides legal representation to Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq by matching law students with pro bono supervising attorneys to assist refugee applicants navigate the rules and processes for resettlement in a safe third country.
- Labor Law and Worker's Rights Project
- LGBT Rights Project - In conjunction with the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern NY, students develop educational and outreach material for practitioners, the public, and organizations serving the LGBT community, develop and host law day programs to address LGBT legal issues, and assist attorneys representing LGBT clients. This year’s focus will include the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA).
Family Law Project - Areas of law this project may cover include child custody/ visitation, child support, spousal maintenance, equitable distribution, and grounds for divorce issues. This project presently houses two separate subprojects that are led by one student Project Director:
Pro Se Divorce Project: In conjunction with the Legal Project, students provide legal assistance to low-income individuals seeking to file for an uncontested pro se divorce.
Kinship-Care Project: Students work in conjunction with the Office of Child and Family Services of Rochester, in the kinship program to provide assistance to family members that wish to obtain custody of children that would otherwise be placed in a foster home.
- Prisoner’s Rights Project - In conjunction with Prisoner’s Legal Services of New York, students provide legal support to prisoners by reviewing Article 78 petition claims, addressing prisoner’s questions and concerns, and conducting research.
- Kinship Care Project
- Student Animal Legal Defense Fund
- Veterans' Law - In conjunction with the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern NY, students work with attorneys to provide a wide range of legal assistance to local veterans. This project provides on-campus law day programs for veterans, as well as off campus legal assistance at local veteran’s assistance sites.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Project - Each year the IRS, the United Way and KeyBank provide free material and trainings to volunteers to become certified in tax preparation. Those volunteers then assist low-income New Yorkers at sites all around the Capital District prepare and file their taxes for free.
If you are seeking pro bono legal services, please visit the The Justice Center or call 518-445-2328, or visit www.lawhelp.org/ny.