Pro Bono Program

Pro Bono Program

The Center for Access to Justice’s Pro Bono Program connects students with legal volunteer opportunities to address unmet legal needs of people of limited means and to enhance the capacity of law and legal institutions to do justice, under the supervision of practicing attorneys in the nonprofit, public and private sectors.

ABA Model Rule 6.1 encourages all lawyers to commit at least 50 hours per year to pro bono work. Georgia State Law’s Pro Bono & Public Service Recognition Program acknowledges the importance of this commitment by providing three levels of distinction for students who have completed at least 50 hours of pro bono or public service work.

The Center for Access to Justice’s Pro Bono Program connects students with legal volunteer opportunities to address unmet legal needs of people of limited means and to enhance the capacity of law and legal institutions to do justice, under the supervision of practicing attorneys in the nonprofit, public and private sectors.

All law students are eligible to participate. These pro bono hours count toward the college’s Pro Bono & Public Service Recognition Program.

Class Representatives
  • 1L: [TBD]
  • 2L: Thomaesa Bailey (J.D. ’19)
  • 3L/LL.M.: McKinley Anderson (J.D. ’18)
Alternative Spring Break Coordinators
  • TBA

How the Program Works

  • Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF):
    • AVLF Domestic Violence Project: Students may assist attorneys in the Safe and Stable Families Project with case management, communicating with clients, conducting client surveys, and completing legal research on behalf of victims seeking safety from intimate partner violence, child abuse, or elder abuse in Fulton County. Volunteer here>>
    • AVLF Safe and Stable Homes Project: Under the supervision of an AVLF attorney, students may assist with client intake, interviews, or legal research regarding eviction defense and housing conditions litigation. Volunteer here>>
    • AVLF Saturday Lawyer Program: Students spend Saturday morning assisting an AVLF or volunteer lawyer with promoting safe and habitable housing and ensuring return of security deposits, resolving other landlord-tenant disputes, such as illegal evictions or damage to tenants’ property caused by landlords, or securing unpaid wages. Volunteer here>>
  • Fulton County Eviction Answer Clinic: Students work with pro bono attorneys from Lawyers for Equal Justice and Atlanta law firms to assist clients in preparing to file an answer to a dispossessory warrant or eviction notice. Volunteer here>>
  • Atlanta Legal Aid Society:
    • Domestic Violence Relations Unit: Under the supervision of an attorney, students may assist pro se parties with completing pro se form pleadings available in the Fulton Family Law Information Center. Volunteer here>>
    • Enhanced Services Unit: Under the supervision of an attorney, students may assist clients (mostly seniors and relative caregivers) with completing estate-planning questionnaires by making phone calls, speaking with clients about estate planning needs, and gathering information to complete the questionnaire. Students may also assist in drafting simple estate plans and working with clients to execute advance directives of financial power of attorney documents. Volunteer here>>
    • Health Law Unit: Under the supervision of an attorney, students may assist with estate planning to clients living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, cancer, and ALS. Completion of an Estate Planning Questionnaire is required to draft a client’s last will and testament, advance directive for health care, power of attorney, and guardianship documentation. Students may have the opportunity to interview clients in person and over the phone to complete the questionnaire. Volunteer here>>
    • Domestic Relations/Kinship Care Unit: Under the supervision of an attorney, students may assist with intake for clients seeking representation from the Domestic Relations or Kinship Care Units. Students will call clients to gather necessary information about eligibility for services and client legal needs. Volunteer here>>

  • Student proposals: Students who have suggestions for additional partnerships with existing organizations should submit their proposal using this form or by contacting the Pro Bono Program student director. At a minimum, the proposal must identify the host organization (and supervising attorney) and an area or project of interest, which will ideally involve a regular, ongoing commitment, though one-time projects or events will be considered. If initially approved, the student director, in conjunction with the center’s assistant director, will contact the organization about supervising interested students and will create a framework for student participation.
  • Organization requests for student assistance: Legal organizations seeking student assistance may submit requests using this form or by contacting the Pro Bono Program student director. The organization’s proposal should describe the project, including the skills or substantive knowledge students can expect to gain and any skills or information that are a prerequisite to participation; describe any training that will be offered or required in advance; identify the licensed attorney who will serve as supervisor; propose dates and times for student volunteers; and specify the number of students needed. Preference will be given to ongoing opportunities, though one-time projects or events will be considered.

Log in to report your pro bono hours for Pro Bono & Public Service Recognition Program. Pro bono service consists of external, law-related service students render in the public interest and for the public good without receiving a fee or earning academic credit. Activities that qualify as pro bono include work that is:

  • Law-related;
  • Not for credit or compensation;
  • Supervised by a licensed attorney or law faculty member, except:
    • Law-related work done for a member of Congress or local government;*
    • Translation work done for law-related volunteering;
  • On behalf of one or more of the following:
    • Individuals, groups, or causes that are either under-represented in the legal system or that benefit the public good;
    • A nonprofit organization, government agency, public interest law firm or private law firm providing pro bono legal services;
    • A charitable, governmental, not-for-profit, or educational organization that works to improve the law, the legal system or the legal profession, including courts and legislatures;
  • Or training for work that meets the above criteria.

*Partisan work on behalf of a candidate for office or under the auspices of a political party DOES NOT qualify as pro bono legal work for this program.

The Center for Access to Justice facilitates Alternative Spring Break trips to provide Georgia State Law students the opportunity to spend a week immersed in a substantive area of law, while also engaging in pro bono legal service. Students work with licensed attorneys to receive training and guidance, gaining insight into some of the legal issues facing the community in which the students volunteer for the week.

Past trips include:

  • Landlord/tenant law in Atlanta: In partnership with the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, Atlanta Legal Aid Society and the Georgia Law Center for the Homeless, 12 law students spent the week interviewing tenants, investigating housing conditions, observing dispossessory proceedings in Fulton County court, participating in mediation and assisting tenants in filing answers to evictions.
  • Criminal court observation in Jackson, Mississippi: In conjunction with the Mississippi Office of the Public Defender, five law students conducted court-watching research in Mississippi criminal courts, recording their observations for an ongoing study about appointment of counsel for indigent defendants.

To learn more about upcoming trip(s), contact the Center for Access to Justice at lawa2j@gsu.edu or check our website for an information session.

Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 15-19-51) prohibits law students (and other people who are not licensed attorneys) from giving legal advice without attorney supervision. This prohibition includes researching cases, drafting documents or providing any other legal assistance without attorney supervision.

If you need legal services and cannot afford a lawyer, visit georgialegalaid.org or contact one of the following organizations directly: