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MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR – APRIL 2022

Dear AALS, Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities Section Friends,

We want something so much bigger.

Sometimes I wonder if one key to professional fulfillment is to be engaged in a mission that involves working yourself out of a job. I love my work. And I love my job.

And yet I hope for a world where there is no need for its existence.

For the first ten years of my career, I worked as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Over those ten years, my work included night shifts at a homeless shelter, answering the 24-hour crisis hotline, leading a support group, training and coordinating volunteers, preparing grant reports, supervising advocates as they worked alongside survivors navigating courts and child welfare systems, leading community education sessions intended to raise awareness about domestic violence dynamics, and supporting survivors. The goal of this work: end intimate partner violence and oppression in all forms. In other words, work ourselves out of a job.

My current role focuses on engaging law students and lawyers in pro bono work. We host the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics, where upwards of 4,000 clients are served annually by a cadre of approximately 200 law students and 250 volunteer lawyers. We host these services in the county courthouse, at local social service agencies, at the veterans’ service office, and on Zoom. We offer advice on family law, housing law, eviction records, estate planning, expungements, and pardons, and we advise nonprofits and small businesses.

We are busy. And we are fulfilled. And maybe that is because our ultimate goal is to be so successful that access to civil justice is a non-issue, and we have worked ourselves out of our jobs.

I’m not suggesting that we don’t love our jobs. I’m suggesting that seeking enormous change is where fulfillment is created. We get to play a small part in creating access to justice, even if it’s just a small part. We get to challenge the notion that paying for legal representation should be the status quo. We get to engage our students in these ideas and raise the hardest questions for them to tackle over the course of their careers: What should our legal system look like? How should it be designed? What does equal access to justice for all entail? How do we achieve it?

In 2022, our AALS Pro Bono & Public Service Opportunities section will keep at it. Let’s continue to create a space where we can come together as a community of changers.  Let’s continue to be a group with whom to dream, commiserate, be creative, and push boundaries. Let’s innovate with an eye to making the need for pro bono service obsolete. How?

  • Use our section listserv to easily reach colleagues working in the pro bono, public service, and public interest arenas.
  • Read and contribute to this quarterly newsletter.
  • Respond to pop-up surveys.
  • Share a brag piece about your law students to inspire others.
  • Tune in to the community engagement seminars and Zoom chat sessions we offer at various times throughout the year. (Details will be shared via the listserv.) 
  • Plan to attend the AALS 2023 conference.
  • Nominate a talented colleague for one of our section awards.

Do you want to play a larger role in this section? Please reach out to me directly, and we will work together to find a place for your interests and talents.

With the challenges and complexities facing our communities, we will not have worked ourselves out of our jobs anytime soon. In the meantime, let’s continue to collaborate and celebrate our successes every chance we get.

Looking forward to a better 2022,

Angela F. Schultz
Assistant Dean for Public Service
Marquette Law School

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Section of the Year Award 2022

Our Section was awarded the “Section of the Year Award” by the AALS for 2022!

Read the acceptance speech that Sue Schechter, Immediate-Past Chair, delivered when receiving the award:

On behalf of the AALS Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities Section, we are honored to accept this award.  We are grateful to the group that selected our section, and congratulate our friends in the Property Law Section, who also won the Award this year.  We accept this Award on behalf of all our members working away at their law schools to move forward on what we all strive for – equal justice for all.

In these scary and trying times, our work instilling and training law students to care about access to justice is even more important.  This year, I had the honor to work with a great group of Section leaders and members and feel like I should be giving you an award for letting me build deeper relationships with these professionals I now call friends and allies.  I want to shout out a few examples of the work these folks are doing:

Angela Schultz, from Marquette, our incoming Chair, organized a remote pro bono programming for last summer – and had 44 students from eight different law schools participating in the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics.

Anna Davis, from UC Irvine, organized a handful of law school collaboration calls where we had 20 or more law school pro bono professionals sharing ideas, stories and resources.

Kelli Neptune from Howard along with Eliza Vorenberg from Roger Williams organized several Educational Enrichment Opportunities where we heard from leading ATJ scholars about their work to keep us inspired and seeing the big picture.

Stephen ​Rispoli from Baylor in partnership with Margaret Hagan in Stanford Law’s Legal Design Lab, has been working​ with​ the ABA’s Free Legal Answers ​(a great project schools can tap into) ​data to determine the most frequently asked questions.  ​Eliza Vorenberg found some RWU students to volunteer on the project and assist with the collection of data and drafting of responses. The Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) that the group creates are then shared with Free Legal Answers administrators around the country to be used as auto-replies when a user submits a question to the project website while awaiting a personalized response from an attorney.

And last but by no means least, Kiva Zytnick​ from Catholic, Columbus School of Law ​- redoing our bylaws and reengineering our Awards with Tonya Jupiter from Tulane to make us more nimble, responsive and inclusive in our internal work.

And we are starting to build our relationship with the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, an important group that law schools should be at the table with.  We are the funnel to the legal profession, and as we all know, if we do not instill and inspire our students to do pro bono work, there is not much hope once they leave our buildings – in person, or virtually.

Thank you again for recognizing our work, and we so appreciate the plaque we received.  We look forward to working with Dean Chemerinsky and all in AALS to promote more ways and resources to support pro bono work across the organization and at our institutions.  

Please reach out to us if your Section wants to think about how it can get involved in pro bono activities – our own, your own, and someone else’s…the need is there, the need is dire, and we can all play a part.  

Thank you and sending you all wishes for safety, well-being and more – onward,

Sue Schechter, accepting the Award on behalf of our Section

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Education Enrichment Committee Program – April 7

On Thursday, April 7, from noon to 1:00 EST, the AALS Section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities will host our Section Chair Angela Schultz, Assistant Dean for Public Service at Marquette Law School. 

The topic will be “Lost in the Law,” an experiential learning activity developed by Marquette Law School and the Milwaukee Justice Center. “Lost in the Law” is intended for lawyers, law students, legislators, and other members of the community who are concerned about, interact with, or create policies affecting low-income people facing civil legal problems.

Experience the activity during this session and consider its potential usefulness in your own work. 

Topic: “Lost in the Law” Educational Enrichment Session hosted by AALS Section on Pro Bono & Public Service
Time: Apr 7, 2022, 11:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://law-marquette-edu.zoom.us/j/85005270367

Please publicize widely!

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Book Review- How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin, Shaped a Nation, by Anna Malaika Tubbs

By Sue Schechter, Berkeley Law

Anna Malaika Tubbs recently wrote a wonderful and insightful non-fiction book about MLK, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin’s mothers.  She did a great amount of research (digging up documents, interviewing people, and more) giving readers a well-developed sense of the context these mothers and their sons were living in.  She acknowledges several times all the information we do not have but aims to make educated guesses about these women, their roles, and their lives.

We know their sons were all great leaders and we learn they all had especially close relationships with their mothers.  The book begins with Ms. Tubbs telling her own story and how she came to write the book – she mentions she was pregnant while she was writing it, and I believe that adds a lovely and strong connection to the role of mothers.  Rather than devote specific chapters to specific mothers, she chooses a theme including: men, marriages, children, loving and losing our sons, etc. and intertwines the topic with each mother and each son.  While I found it a little confusing when I first started reading the book, I came to appreciate the strength of acknowledging this collective idea of motherhood and how each mother brought different strengths to their mothering and their unfaltering and constant support of their sons. 

At the end of the book, she says, “It is time for the honor many quietly pay to Black mothers to become as loud as Alberta’s choir, as consistent as Berdis’s love, as strong as Louise’s fight.”  (Page 219/paperback).  This incredibly apt sentence wraps up the theme of this book, acknowledges the strength and importance of Black mothering, and carries forth the critical role these mothers played in growing and supporting these incredible leaders.

I highly recommend this book to all!

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Pop-Up Survey Responses

On {SOME DATE}, Stephen Rispoli asked Section members to respond to two ‘Pop-Up’ survey questions. Responses to the fun questions are below:

Q1: Brag on one student in your pro bono program: who has been doing great work lately? Why are you submitting this person?

Allison Standard Constance
Director of Pro Bono Initiatives
University of North Carolina School of Law

For the first time, we’ve got a student who has done over 1,000 hours of pro bono work (we cap summer employment hours at 25 and don’t give credit for externships or clinics).  The number of projects and the level of engagement is off the charts—and most importantly, she has helped clients, built relationships, and developed a deeper understanding of our justice system. 

Pamela DeFanti Robinson
Director, Pro Bono Program
Manager, Palmetto Leader Project
University of South Carolina School of Law

Michelle is a force that is not to be ignored. As a 1L she attended training and became a volunteer guardian ad litem for abused and neglected children. Her first case is complex and emotionally draining but this does not stop Michelle. She stays on top of every time the child in custody of the SC Department of Social Services, runs away. Her reports to the Court are comprehensive, current and relied on by the judge.  She may not solve all the underlying problems for the child but she will make sure everyone available service is offered and encouraged. Oh, and she does all of this while being an amazing law student

Q2: What does your school do for Spring Break: do you have a Spring Break pro bono program? If so, what is it, and what do the students do?

Allison Standard Constance
Director of Pro Bono Initiatives
University of North Carolina School of Law

For Spring Break, we have a “trip” that is only going to the other side of town because of the pandemic.  We’ll be doing wills in a historically African American neighborhood where there are significant heirs property issues (mostly due to the proximity to our university and investors attempting to use property for student housing).  We will also have students working on remote research projects for a variety of organizations.

Pamela DeFanti Robinson
Director, Pro Bono Program
Manager, Palmetto Leader Project
University of South Carolina School of Law

No Spring Break Pro Bono trips, just the usual day to day operations, including VITA, volunteer income tax assistance each Sat. morning.

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Spotlight on Student Service: White House and Department of Justice Recognize Law Student Volunteers

The White House and the Department of Justice recently recognized 99 law schools that responded to the Attorney General’s Call to Action to address the housing and eviction crisis in the U.S. Deans across the country signed a statement of support after the Call to Action was issued in August 2021. Law students volunteered to help millions of families remain in their homes amid the ongoing pandemic.

The Attorney General’s Call to Action has led to increased access to justice and eviction prevention in jurisdictions across the country. According to a survey tracking the effort facilitated by the Georgetown University Law Center and New York University School of Law, more than 2,100 law students dedicated about 81,000 hours to serve more than 10,000 households nationwide.

You can watch the White House and Department of Justice Law School Eviction Prevention Convening here.

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Upcoming Programs

State of the South 2022 – Friday, May 6
1:00–3:30pm ET (virtual)

The Center for Access to Justice at Georgia State Law builds bridges between academics, practitioners, and policymakers. For this year’s State of the South, we have partnered with Georgia State Law’s Legal Analytics and Innovation Initiative to showcase how universities partner with outside entities, using both traditional and cutting-edge research techniques, to move the access to justice needle in the South.

At this year’s conference, we are highlighting collaborations across the region between university researchers and non-profit organizations and/or government entities, as well as the challenges and opportunities that can come with doing such work in the South. We welcome those who have engaged in such collaborations, those who want to learn more about how such partnerships come about or operate, those who would like to engage in such collaboration in the future (either as researcher or research partner), and anyone who is curious about how such partnerships can advance access to justice goals.

We hope you’ll join us on Friday, May 6, 2022 from 1:00pm to 3:30pm ET, for this virtual event featuring facilitated conversations between researchers and their research partners, followed by a conversation with funders who provide grant support for access to justice research.


American Bar Association Equal Justice Conference – May 12-14, 2022 – Minneapolis, MN

The ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference is an annual gathering of legal services and pro bono advocates to share and learn about developments and innovations in providing legal services to low-income persons. The emphasis of this Conference is on strengthening partnerships among the key players in the civil justice system. Through plenary sessions, workshops, networking opportunities and special programming, the Conference provides a wide range of learning and sharing experiences for all attendees.

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Position Announcements

Director of Externships and Pro Bono Programs, Pepperdine University School of Law, Malibu, CA


Director of Public Service and Pro Bono Initiatives, Villanova University School of Law, Villanova, PA


Pro Bono Administrator, University of California, Berkeley School of Law


Assistant Director of Pro Bono and Summer Programs, Columbia University School of Law, New York


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MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR – NOVEMBER 2021

Dear AALS, Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities Section Friends,

A wise human said, “Compassion is wisdom plus love.”  I do not know who actually said that quote but given the state of the world and the work we do, it really spoke to me as I thought of you all and the amazing things you are building and moving forward on your law school campuses, local communities, legal profession, and the world.  As I wind down my year as Chair, I want to say thank you to all of you who have jumped in, taken on a task or event, and helped support the Section.  And please keep it up! Thank you!!!

With too many issues on the access to justice agenda and needing pro bono attention, I invite you all to take a moment – and just be – be still, be quiet, be reflective, and as another famous human once said – be a human ‘be-ing’ instead of a human ‘do-ing.’  As Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence.  It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”  While political warfare is a strong statement, this is the kind of warfare we should all be engaging in – taking care of ourselves, so we can take care of others as we all work to repair and heal the world, with love and with wisdom.

These days I am learning from many teachers, and I wanted to share two recent articles that have spoken to me in very profound ways – and I make no claim to objectivity, as these are two dear friends doing important work in our field:

  1. Anne Gordon, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of Externships, Duke Law School, has written a piece – Better Than our Biases:  Using Psychological Research to Inform Our Approach to Inclusive, Effective Feedback, in the Spring 2021, Clinical Law Review.  Anne’s article will introduce you to biases you probably did not even know you had, or at least did not know the name for them, and even more importantly, she provides insights and tools into how to confront these biases and support students in their learning.  While her focus is on feedback in the clinical/externship world, there are many lessons for pro bono and public service faculty and staff as we strive to ensure that all feel welcomed into our programs.
  2. Janet Thompson Jackson, Professor of Law, Washburn University School of Law, has written Wellness and Law: Reforming Legal Education to Support Student Wellness, https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3839050  (forthcoming 65 Howard L.J. 1 (Fall 2021)).  Janet looks at professional identity through an interesting and innovative lens, putting forth the concept that wellness, including mindfulness and other practices, are a critical component in raising the next generation of legal professionals. She introduces concepts and provides tools to help think about these concepts and frame them in our work with students. 

In these scary and difficult moments, I hope you are holding your loved ones close and taking time to be grateful for all you have and the path ahead. 

As the Section prepares for the transition to the 2022 year with new officers and new projects, if you are interested in coming on board and helping to lead these efforts, please contact Kiva Zytnick, zytnick@cua.edu to learn more. I close by expressing my gratitude and acknowledge my good fortune in getting to work with many of you – thank you, you keep me going.

– Sue Schechter