UW Law School Expands Pro Bono Opportunities for Students

Pro bono work performed by attorneys as a service for the public good has a long tradition in American law.

The University of Wisconsin Law School is working to instill this sense of civic responsibility in its students through its Pro Bono Program, in which law students partner with local attorneys to provide service to Dane County residents.

The UW Law School's Pro Bono Program, started in 2007, has received a three-year renewable grant from Wisconsin Campus Compact's AmeriCorps VISTA program to expand its pro bono efforts.

"The pro bono program is a great way for students to work for the public good while gaining experience that could be of benefit when they go on the job market," says Ann Zimmerman, who began her role as director of programming for the Pro Bono Program this year along with program coordinator Julia Zwak. "This is a great opportunity for both students and the community."

Participating law students partner with local public service organizations, law firms and individual attorneys who take pro bono cases. Students do research, draft documents and briefs, and help with other legal work under the supervision of the partner pro bono attorneys.

With the addition of two new staff members, the program will offer an increased variety and range of opportunities for students. Students who commit to offering pro bono service may also join the newly created Pro Bono Society, with their efforts recognized at graduation.

These efforts build upon the previous work of the program, led by UW Law School clinical professors Ben Kempinen and Marsha Mansfield, who created and implemented the program five years ago.

The UW Law School will highlight the Pro Bono Program at a Sept. 15 reception from 5:30-8 p.m., featuring state Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and UW Law School Dean Margaret Raymond. The reception will take place in Lubar Commons of the UW Law School, 975 Bascom Mall.

The reception will offer several perspectives on the importance of pro bono work, ranging from Abrahamson's discussion about the value of pro bono services in law school to a student’s firsthand account of what it's like to be in the program.

To attend the reception, register at http://law.wisc.edu/probono/.

Submitted by UW Law News on October 12, 2011

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