Georgia State Law encourages student involvement in both pro bono and public service through the Pro Bono & Public Service Recognition Program.
Pro bono activities include not only those that address unmet legal needs of people of limited means, but also efforts that enhance the capacity of law and legal institutions to do justice. Activities that are not law-related but promote the interests of charitable or community organizations are recognized as valuable public service.
The Center for Access to Justice’s award-winning Pro Bono Program connects students with legal volunteer opportunities to address the legal needs of people of limited means. Working under attorney supervision, Georgia State Law students are enhancing the capacity of law and legal institutions to do justice.
The GSU Pro Bono Project Bank is your one-stop shop for all current pro bono opportunities! This spreadsheet will include one-time legal research projects for various legal organizations, recurring remote volunteer “shifts” for Atlanta Legal Aid and Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, and other pro bono opportunities that become available throughout the semester.
To view and sign up for these opportunities, please provide your name and email on the GSU Pro Bono Project Bank form. Once you submit this form, you will get access to the project bank spreadsheet within 24 hours (check your email for the link). Further instructions are provided on the spreadsheet. Check the spreadsheet often to stay up to date with the latest opportunities.
Note that these opportunities are exclusively for currently enrolled GSU Law students.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
To sign up, see the Sign Up tab and subscribe to the spreadsheet. Volunteer opportunities described below are recurring. We also offer time-sensitive one-off projects as available. See spreadsheet for current details.
You must sign up by 5 p.m. the Sunday before your preferred time slot.
Fulton Family Law Information Center (FLIC)
Atlanta Legal Aid Society
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 on a variety of issues, including: paternity establishment, legitimation, custody, visitation, child support, annulment and divorce.
Estate Planning: Senior Hotline and Health Law Project
Atlanta Legal Aid Society
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.
Northern District of Georgia Bankruptcy Assistance Program
Atlanta Legal Aid Society
Working alongside volunteer attorneys and under the supervision of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, students may assist with intake and screening of clients at the monthly Bankruptcy Assistance Program in the Northern District of Georgia Federal Courthouse. Students can work individually or in pairs to gain experience with transactional law and client interview skills. Depending on interest and need, students may be able to continue working on cases beyond the once-a-month clinic.
Transgender Name Change Project
Atlanta Legal Aid Society
Under the supervision of an attorney, students assist with gender-affirming name changes, birth certificate amendments, and gender marker changes. Students may complete intake and screening, draft documents, verify publication and filing requirements, may attend court hearings, and assist with drafting the Transgender in Georgia: Know Your Rights guide.
Atlanta Public Defender Office’s Homeless Legal Project
Under the supervision of the Atlanta Public Defender’s Office, volunteers may conduct intake interviews of homeless and low-income individuals at the homeless legal project run through the Community Ministries Program at First Presbyterian Church. Volunteers will learn to navigate challenging and difficult conversations in a respectful manner, engage in legal issue spotting, and record the interview in a concise but thorough report.
AVLF Saturday Lawyer Program
Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF)
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.
GSU Veterans’ Legal Assistance Project
The GSU Veterans’ Legal Assistance Project provides free legal services to veterans on a wide range of civil and military law issues including veterans’ benefits, rating and discharge issues, divorce, wills, landlord/tenant issues and others.
Housing Court Assistance Center (HCAC)
The HCAC is a walk-in clinic at the courthouse where tenants who have been served with evictions receive advice and help with filing their answers. Students work with pro bono attorneys to quickly assess the tenant’s situation for possible defenses or counterclaims, then advise the tenant how to raise them to avoid a judgment on the pleadings.
Georgia Lawyers for the Arts (GLA) serves the legal needs of artists and arts organizations, to promote closer contact and understanding among members of the legal profession and the arts community, and to educate artists about their legal rights and responsibilities. Volunteers assist attorneys in conducting legal research, preparing self-help legal and administrative guides for under-resourced artists, and writing blog articles to educate GLA’s client base. Note: 1Ls are not eligible to volunteer at this time.
Students who would like to propose a new pro bono opportunity may do so by submitting the Student Project Proposal Form or by contacting the Pro Bono Program student director. The proposal must identify the host organization, supervising attorney and an area or project of interest. Projects should 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 for Access to Justice assistant director, will contact the organization about supervising interested students and will create a framework for student participation.
Legal organizations seeking student assistance may submit requests using the Legal Services Organizations Pro Bono Project Proposal 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.
The Pro Bono Program has a student board that helps advise the program’s direction. Each class has a representative that serves as an ambassador to their class about Pro Bono opportunities.
Alex Estroff (J.D. ’21)
1L: Kierra Powell (J.D. ’23)
2L: Zari Shah (J.D. ’22)
3L/LL.M.: Veeda Mashayekh (J.D. ’21)
Students who complete 50 hours or more of pro bono and/or public service during law school will graduate with “pro bono and public service distinction” and a notation in the commencement program.
There are three levels of recognition:
- With distinction is awarded to students who perform 50-99 hours of pro bono and/or public service.
- With high distinction is awarded to students who do 100-149 hours of pro bono and/or public service.
- With highest distinction is awarded to students who complete 150 or more hours of pro bono and/or public service.
What constitutes pro bono service?
- 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.
*Translation work done for law-related volunteering need not be directly supervised by an attorney/faculty member and can still count as pro bono service if all other requirements are met. Similarly, law-related work done for a member of Congress or local government need not be supervised by a lawyer or faculty member to count as pro bono service, but partisan work on behalf of a candidate for office or under the auspices of a political party does not qualify as pro bono service. If you have questions about what constitutes pro bono service, contact Center for Access to Justice assistant director, Darcy Meals.
What constitutes public service?
- Organizations with a principal purpose promoting the interests of low-income individuals or communities
- Individuals, groups or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties or public rights
- Charitable groups or organizations
- Community groups or organizations
- Classes in any K-12 program
Volunteer work on behalf of a candidate for office or under the auspices of a political party does not qualify for pro bono or public service recognition under this program.If you have questions about what constitutes public service, contact Center for Access to Justice assistant director, Darcy Meals.
In need of legal services?
If you need legal services and cannot afford a lawyer, visit georgialegalaid.org or contact one of the following organizations directly:
- Atlanta Legal Aid Society (for the five-county metro Atlanta area)
- Georgia Legal Services (for Georgia residents outside of Atlanta)
- Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation
- ACLU of Georgia
- Georgia Asylum & Immigration Network
- Southern Center for Human Rights
- Southern Poverty Law Center
- Fulton County Public Defender Office
- DeKalb County Public Defender Office
- Atlanta Municipal Court – Public Defender Office
- Georgia Public Defender Council (for other public defender offices throughout Georgia)
We encourage you to include your pro bono and public service hours on your resume. A strong record of service as a law student demonstrates to employers your commitment to serving others and can make you an attractive candidate for certain positions.
If you choose to indicate your recognition on your resume, you must include the words “pro bono and public service.” For example, you might state: “with highest pro bono and public service distinction.” Leaving out the phrase “pro bono and public service” would suggest the receipt of academic honors, which is misleading.
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