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.


Pro Bono Bankruptcy Program

In partnership with the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation and Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, the Carrico Center offers students the opportunity to volunteer with a pro bono program assisting low-income individuals petitioning for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. As part of this program, law students will be assigned cases from CVLAS to prepare for referral to a pro bono bankruptcy attorney. This triaging of cases would include working with clients to gather the information needed for a Chapter 7 petition. There will also be an opportunity for students to work with the pro bono attorney on each referred case he/she prepared.

Pro Bono Criminal Appeals Program
Because Richmond is home to the Virginia Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Virginia, as well as a strong and highly-respected criminal defense bar, our law students are uniquely poised for a hands-on experience with complex criminal appeals. In partnership with members of the criminal defense bar, law students work on criminal appellate cases from the initial petition stage through the merit phase of the appeal. Specifically, students draft preliminary documents, research legal issues, and, if qualified under Virginia's Third-Year Practice Rule, may argue the appeal before the Court.
Assistance to Disabled Veterans
In response to the increased number of disability claims by veterans, the law school has partnered with the Federal Circuit Bar Association (FCBA) in its operation of a program to facilitate pro bono representation in these appeals. Law students perform case tracking and analysis of the Federal Circuit’s disability appeals docket, as well as provide individual case assistance to pro bono attorneys. In addition, University of Richmond law students author an annual veteran’s law article, which is published by the FCBA and used by its members nationwide.
Estate Planning
In partnership with the law firm of Williams Mullen, the University of Richmond law school participates in its Wills Pro Bono Program, providing basic estate planning services to low-income seniors and families in Central Virginia. At a wills program, law students and pro bono attorneys provide clients with wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives. Law students support this program through client intake, document drafting, and witness services.

Training Session

Housing Law Program

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)
Immigration Assistance Project

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, in partnership with the law firm of Williams Mullen and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, supports 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 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.

Legislative Research and Analysis

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.

MSPB Appeals Program

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.
No-Fault Divorce Program

In partnership with the Richmond Bar Association and Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, this program connects volunteer attorneys with law students, who together represent clients seeking no fault divorces in the greater Richmond area. There currently is a two-year waitlist for low-income individuals seeking no fault divorces in Central Virginia, 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.

Training Session
Protective Order Project

Working with the Virginia Bar Association – Young Lawyers Division, 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, law students assist these individuals obtain the protective orders they need to ensure their safety.

View training video

Public Schools Projects

Classroom Aides
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.

Restoration of Rights

The Carrico Center, in partnership with Williams Mullen and Offender Aid and Restoration, operates a Restoration of Rights Pro Bono Clinic at UR Downtown as part of its Alternative Spring Break program. Pre-screened clients meet with volunteer attorneys and law students, who will draft the petition for restoration of rights for submission to the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Law students in particular work with the clients to secure the necessary criminal history documents and work with clients on the personal statements that are needed for these petitions.

Supreme Court of Virginia
Each year, the Supreme Court of Virginia provides newly appointed judges three weeks of training that includes a mock trial in a local courtroom (Hanover, Henrico, Richmond, Chesterfield, etc.). Licensed attorneys try the cases before these new judges, and each attorney is asked to provide witnesses for the trial in which they participate. The new judge hears the case, an active judge critiques the new judge, and, after the trial, the attorneys and witnesses are asked for their feedback. According to the new judges, these mock trials provide an invaluable experience. University of Richmond law students are annually invited by the Supreme Court to serve as witnesses in these trials. This is a great opportunity for students, as it provides direct and candid exposure to the training of new state court judges as well as the judicial process as a whole.