Pro Bono Programs
The School of Law connects students with a growing variety of pro-bono programs that employ the diverse skills and interests of our student body. Since the Center's inception in 2007, our programs have grown from three to 13. Whether it is helping a victim of domestic violence obtain a protective order, assisting a non-profit organization with its incorporation, helping low-income individuals in their efforts to access and maintain safe and affordable housing, or providing services to individuals fighting to obtain unemployment insurance benefits, we offer many opportunities for our students to experience a service-based legal education.
Our successful partnerships allow the Center to reach more of Richmond's under-privileged population, bringing lawyers and law students together in the spirit of service.
In partnership with area prisoner re-entry programs, the University of Richmond School of Law provides free tutoring for program participants preparing to take the GED exam. Volunteers meet weekly with these adult learners and assist them in a variety of subject areas including reading comprehension, writing, math, and computer literacy.
In 2011, the Carrico Center joined a pro bono partnership with the Richmond Bar Association and the Legal Aid Justice Center in their operation of a pro bono housing law program. The Housing Law program connects volunteer attorneys with law students, who together represent low income individuals in their efforts to access and maintain decent, safe, and affordable housing. The cases range from landlord/tenant disputes to stays of eviction. A law student who volunteers with this program has the opportunity to participate in client and witness interviews, legal research, and document drafting. If a particular case proceeds to court, then in-court opportunities may be available as well.
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Download program materials (PDF - 640K)
The diversity of the greater Richmond area is enriched by its growing immigrant population. Unfortunately, the legal needs of this population are often confounded by language and cultural barriers. The University of Richmond School of Law offers two pro bono immigration programs for its students that address the needs of this emerging community.
In partnership with the law firm of Williams Mullen and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, law students support a monthly legal clinic that serves low-income, qualifying immigrants in matters ranging from the adjustment of immigration status to unfair wage practices.
In addition, through a partnership with the Challa Law Office and the Virginia Poverty Law Center, law students can also work closely with attorneys providing pro bono legal assistance to undocumented immigrants, who are also victims of domestic or sexual violence. In both programs, law students perform client intake, gather evidence, and assist in document drafting. Students fluent in other languages often provide translation services as well, a great way to maintain language skills.
Taking advantage of our location in the state’s capital, the law school launched a legislative pro bono project, in which students provide bill tracking and analysis, as well as issue-blogging on issues relevant to pending legislation on behalf of local and statewide advocacy groups. Recent pro bono placements include the Virginia Poverty Law Center, Housing Opportunities Made Equal, and the Virginia League of Conservation Voters.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has exclusive jurisdiction over appeals from final orders and decisions of the Merit Systems Protection Board and from certain arbitrator awards. A high percentage of these MSPB and arbitration appeals are brought on a pro se basis by government employees, and, in recent years, the number of such appeals has greatly increased.
In response to this growing need, the Federal Circuit Bar Association created the Government Employees Pro Bono Program, which provides pro bono legal assistance to individuals in their appeals of MSPB and arbitration decisions to the Federal Circuit. In this project, law students have the opportunity to work in two capacities:
- Perform case tracking and analysis of the MSPB and arbitration appeals that are currently pending with the Federal Circuit,
- Provide legal research and writing assistance to pro bono attorneys from across the country with the preparation of appellate briefs to the Federal Circuit on these cases.
The University of Richmond School of Law works with the Richmond Bar Association and Central Virginia Legal Aid Society in the No Fault Divorce Program. This program connects volunteer attorneys with law students, who together represent clients seeking no-fault divorces in the greater Richmond area. In Virginia, an attorney is required to file a no-fault divorce, as well as conduct the required deposition testimony of a third-party witness. Many low-income individuals cannot afford the services of an attorney, so they languish in marriages that have ended in all other respects. Law students who volunteer with the program are paired with volunteer attorneys to provide representation on these cases. A law student has the opportunity to participate in the client interview, draft the necessary documents, and assist/sit-in on the required depositions.View training video
The University of Richmond School of Law works with the Virginia Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division and Richmond Bar Association in the Protective Order Project. This project connects pro bono attorneys and law students with low-income/no-income clients seeking protective orders in the city of Richmond. Victims of domestic violence petition for permanent protective orders after a temporary protective order has been issued, and a hearing on the petition occurs within two weeks after filing. Because of the nature of domestic violence relationships, many victims are without the support needed to help with these proceedings. Through this project, we hope to assist these individuals obtain the protective orders they need to ensure their safety. Law students who volunteer with the project are paired with volunteer attorneys to provide representation on these cases. A law student has the opportunity to participate in the client interview, draft the necessary court documents, and assist/sit-in on the hearing.
In partnership with the Richmond Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, the law school helped launch in 2011 an opportunity for lawyers and law students to get involved in the community and participate in a rewarding experience with minimal time commitment: the Lunch Buddy Program at Fairfield Elementary School in Richmond. The program matches volunteers with children during their lunch period for about 30 minutes of mentoring and getting to know the child each month. The program allows low-income children to foster relationships with people they otherwise would not meet who can steer them on the path to success.
The Richmond Mentor Program of the Virginia Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and the University of Richmond School of Law partner with Woodville Elementary School to make a difference in the lives of Richmond children. Woodville Elementary is an inner-city school, with many of its students coming from low-income housing developments with higher than average rates of crime and poverty. Volunteers are paired with third grade language arts, science/social studies or reading classes and assist students with their classroom assignments.
Student vs. Marijuana
“Student vs. Marijuana” is a Chesterfield County collaborative project designed to increase student awareness of the consequences for drug possession on school property both in the school system and the judicial system. The project is coordinated by Chesterfield Youth Planning and Development and includes the involvement of Chesterfield County Public Schools, the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Juvenile Probation, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, the Police Department, and the Sheriff’s Department. University of Richmond law students role-play as defense attorneys in the mock juvenile court proceedings in presentations held throughout all of Chesterfield County’s middle schools.
The University of Richmond School of Law has partnered with Safe Harbor and the YWCA of Greater Richmond, both resource centers for people who have experienced or are now experiencing domestic violence, to provide legal information workshops. On the last Wednesday of each month, law students and a local attorney present a one-hour workshop to Safe Harbor’s clients on legal issues ranging from child custody and visitation, to domestic violence proceedings. Following the presentation, the students and lawyer answer questions (but not provide individual legal counsel or advice). These workshops are student-led, with the volunteer attorney available to provide further guidance. Students who volunteer with this project are expected to develop and lead one workshop every academic year, working in teams of no more than three students.View training video
In 2011, the Carrico Center launched a new pro bono partnership with the Richmond Bar Association, the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation, Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Legal Aid Justice Center, and Virginia Trial Lawyers Association to operate an Unemployment Insurance Pro Bono Program. Unemployment benefits are available to workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. Too often, however, workers who proceed pro se before the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) make mistakes that prevent them from receiving benefits. These benefits are often one of the last lifelines for unemployed families in meeting basic expenses like rent, utilities, and transportation. Law students work with a pro bono attorney during the weekly intake sessions and subsequently assist with research and case preparation on behalf of any client accepted for representation.