October 26-31, 2009 UC Law’s Public Interest Law Group (PILG) celebrated National Pro Bono Week, giving students a “behind-the-scenes” look at three of the law school’s clinical pro bono opportunities.
Sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, National Pro Bono Week is a coordinated national effort to showcase the great difference that pro bono lawyers make to the nation, its system of justice, its communities and, most of all, to the clients they serve. The week is also dedicated to the quest for more pro bono volunteers to meet the ever-growing legal needs of this country's most vulnerable citizens. During the week, interested 1Ls and 2Ls got the chance to shadow upper level students and pro bono lawyers working with three of the College of Law’s clinical experiences: the Domestic Violence & Civil Protection Order Clinic, the Ohio Innocence Project, and the Indigent Defense Clinic.
Students got an inside look at domestic relations’ court proceedings and learned how the Domestic Violence clinic assists victims and provides representation in civil protection order hearings. They also heard lawyers and students with the Ohio Innocence Project evaluate individual cases of wrongful conviction and see how they construct arguments for exoneration. Students that signed up for the Indigent Defense Clinic experience observed third year students utilizing their limited practice licenses representing indigent clients in felony and misdemeanor charges in Hamilton County Courts.
Here’s what three students thought about their experience:
“I had an opportunity to shadow students involved in the Domestic Violence Clinic. It was an invaluable experience because it gave me an inside look at how I could best use my legal education to make a real difference in my community. Being a first year law student can be overwhelming at times because there are so many opportunities to get involved and make a difference. The ability to shadow the various institutes and clinics the College of Law provides gave me the chance to reflect on what I want to do with my legal education. By seeing what my peers are able to do with their talents and skills, I am slowly but surely figuring out where I might end up in a few short years.” Lauren Cook
“During Public Interest Week at the law school, I had the opportunity to talk with current members of the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP). Over lunch, we discussed what the fellows in the project actually do, heard a bit about their caseload and past work, and discussed in detail a case that they are currently working on. It was fascinating to hear about how their work not only helps to free innocent men who have been wrongly imprisoned, but also, in many cases, indicates the real perpetrator. Far from the simple process depicted on TV shows, the work of the OIP fellows in releasing innocent men from prison involves complex legal and genetic issues. As an informal, conversational discussion, the meeting provided us with information tailored to our own questions, and thus was more informative than a lecture and put a real face on the problem of innocent men in prison.” Angela Neyer
“I shadowed a student interning at the Indigent Defense Clinic. During my visit, we made several client visits on several of the cases the student was working with. Talking with the student, I learned more of what an internship at the IDC is about. I was surprised that students have so much freedom and flexibility with their caseload. They actually get direct client interaction allowing them to put theory/law into practical experience. Criminal law, specifically public defense, is an area I am very interested in and I think the clinic would be very helpful to anyone who is interested in criminal law -- whether on the prosecution or defense side. It gives students practical, hands-on experience working with indigent clients. After shadowing a student, I am most definitely hoping to work at the IDC during my 3L year.” Kaushiki Chowdhury