Pro Bono Projects

Pro Bono Projects

Brooklyn Law School has over two dozen student-run pro bono projects. Participation in pro bono projects allows students to give back to the community, gain valuable legal experience, and enhance your resume. There are a wide range of projects, including nationwide ones such as the National Lawyers Guild’s Legal Observation at Protests, citywide  ones such as the Suspension Representation Project, and projects unique to BLS such as the Foreclosure Legal Assistance Group. Pro bono projects span a range of practice areas and populations, including working with alleged debtors, domestic violence survivors, entrepreneurs, immigrants, public benefits recipients, students, and veterans. We also host an alternative spring break where students engage in public service in cities nationwide. The Public Service Law Center is also always open to students interested in starting new projects.

  • BCBF is committed to ending the unnecessary incarceration of indigent misdemeanor defendants due to the inability to pay small amounts of bail. Participating students will attend seminars in the fall semester and work as Pretrial Justice Fellows in BCBF’s office in the spring. The fellows will participate in determining client eligibility and paying bail; liaising between clients and public defenders, social workers, and third-party service providers; and assisting in the formulation and communication of policy recommendations.

  • BLAST is a great opportunity for Brooklyn Law School students to spend their spring break working with legal services and other public interest organizations across the United States. Students work intensively in new communities to provide much-needed legal assistance for one week. Participants are responsible for assisting in fundraising for and planning the alternative spring break trips. In previous years, students worked at the Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office, Miami Community Justice Project, Catholic Charities of Atlanta, Gideon’s Promise in Atlanta, and #Cut50, Rebuild the Dream’s incarceration reform initiative in Oakland.

  • Brooklyn Law School JD and LLM students perform immigration intakes for foreign-born individuals who have outstanding cases in the Brooklyn Human Trafficking Intervention Court. Students will receive training and supervision from Sanctuary for Families attorneys. Students gain experience in direct services and exposure to legal issues involving women and immigration.

  • CAP assists and advocates for victims of domestic violence seeking orders of protection in New York City family courts. Students help domestic violence survivors file petitions and maintain contact as necessary to ensure that the petitioner returns for his or her next court date. Students may also advocate for the petitioner before the judge on the return date. Students participating in CAP will gain court experience, exposure to NY civil procedure, client interaction and/or experience in domestic violence law.

  • CCC participants travel to various New York City neighborhoods to participate in brief advice clinics aimed at providing both new and existing small businesses with pro bono assistance. CCC sets up consultation centers, staffed by students and BLS alum attorneys, to provide much-needed legal resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs. These events focus particularly on reaching start-ups and new businesses run by women and owners from immigrant and diverse backgrounds. During consultations, students assess the needs of the small business owners and entrepreneurs; provide brief advice and information related to contracts, entity formation, and leases; and, as needed, refer them to legal representation.

  • Through CLARO, student volunteers will have the opportunity to address the critical legal needs of low-income Brooklyn residents, and learn more about debtor-creditor law, consumer protection, economic justice, direct services, and civil procedure. CLARO participants assist volunteer attorneys advising consumer debtors, including victims of identity theft and predatory lenders and collectors. Students will help consumers through the daunting process of self-representation, learn New York civil procedure, gain experience working with clients, learn consumer law, and gain an understanding of financial justice issues affecting low-income Brooklyn residents. Students also get exposure to legal issues regarding banking and commercial paper.

  • CP-RAP seeks to help individuals avoid or ameliorate the collateral consequences of criminal justice involvement, particularly in the areas of employment and public benefits. Working directly with criminal defense attorneys and the re-entry coordinator at Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS), student volunteers review RAP sheets, clear up errors, and apply for certificates of relief from civil disabilities (CRDs), or certificates of good conduct (CGCs), where appropriate. Initially, students work with attorneys, re-entry services providers, and clients to ensure that all RAP sheet errors are effectively removed; meeting times/locations vary greatly depending on the particular RAP sheet.

  • Ed Law seeks to strengthen educational opportunities for all students, with a particular emphasis on U.S. public education reform. Its aim is to advance dialogue, prepare leaders, raise awareness in the legal community, and create opportunities for students to effect positive change by coordinating pro bono activities with other student groups, advocacy organizations, legal advocates, and other schools. Ed Law offers members opportunities to assist in litigation, policy research, and service projects and gain access to education law leaders. Ed Law members participate in A Law Student for a Day, a shadowing program where members serve as mentors in sharing the law school experience with high school students interested in pursuing careers in law and education.

  • EJC advocates provide meaningful assistance to low-income New Yorkers in crucial public assistance matters while gaining experience in representation at administrative hearings. Student advocates work with clients regarding denial, delay, reduction, or termination of public assistance benefits. They also conduct research and interviews, draft written communications, negotiate with city and state agencies, and appear on behalf of clients at hearings before administrative law judges. EJC will be particularly compelling to students who are seeking experience in providing direct services to low-income populations and underserved families or are interested in public interest advocacy, oral advocacy, administrative law, public benefits law, homeless rights, and housing law.

  • Elder law is a rapidly expanding field concerned with all legal issues related to elderly individuals. ELG provides education, support, and aid to seniors and guardianship petitioners who face these issues from their unique perspectives. Working alongside attorneys with the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project, students will be trained to give presentations about types of guardianships, the guardianship process, and the responsibilities of guardians. Students will also assist clients in drafting guardianship petitions.

  • FLAG is a partnership between Brooklyn Law School students, the BLS Public Service Office, the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project, and Kings County Supreme Court. Its mission is to assist homeowners in Kings County facing foreclosure. FLAG provides homeowners entangled in foreclosure litigation with information about New York’s unique foreclosure process. Student volunteers will have an opportunity to provide meaningful assistance to members of our community, learn about foreclosure law, attend foreclosure settlement conferences, and gain direct exposure to the mandatory foreclosure litigation process, sharpening essential interpersonal skills through hands-on experience.

  • Students participating in IVAP assist immigrant victims of crime with U-visa and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) applications. IVAP provides students with the opportunity to interview clients, draft affidavits, and learn practical lawyering skills related to immigration practice. Students will be supervised by upper-class students and attorneys through Safe Horizon, Justice for Our Neighbors, and Catholic Charities.

  • BLS students coach high school students to prepare for constitutional law debates throughout the year. Coaches help the students read and understand Supreme Court decisions and craft an argument to be delivered to a panel of law students and attorneys who act as judges at the debate competition. There are three debates throughout the school year, each requiring a minimum of six hours of preparation with your student and three hours to judge each debate. Scheduling meetings with the high school students is flexible and done based on the law student coach’s schedule. Both full- and part-time students are welcome!

  • The Legal Observer program is part of the comprehensive legal support coordinated by the NLG to ensure that people can express their political views without unconstitutional disruption or interference by the government. Legal Observers work with NLG attorneys who represent individual activists and political organizations and play a distinct role separate from that of participants at demonstrations and protests. They are trained to promote police accountability by witnessing and documenting police. Documentation includes arrests, abuse, or civil rights violations. The presence of Legal Observers helps discourage police abuse, and the information collected by Legal Observers is used in all stages of defending arrestees and in lawsuits against the police or other government agencies when a person’s rights are violated.

  • PDMP seeks to empower and assist minorities from underrepresented communities through e-mentorship to understand the demands of law school and prepare for the law school application and admissions process. PDMP seeks to inspire students to excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community. PDMP matches undergraduate students with law students for informal mentoring and guidance. Mentors provide guidance in entrance essay writing, LSAT prep, negotiating scholarship packages, and more.

  • RAP runs youth leadership programs in partnership with schools and community-based organizations. RAP uses what is learned from this on-the-ground work to advocate for improvements in youth- and poverty-related laws, policies, and government systems. Law students teach RAP participants about the New York City government, constitutional and poverty law, health and family rights, and advocacy skills in weekly 2-hour workshops. Projects have included community resource centers, meeting with city leaders, and conducting youth rights workshops for other teens.

  • The Second Chance Project helps parents with a finding of child neglect on their records to move forward in their lives. Students in this project will help clients request administrative reviews, request and advocate in fair hearings to amend clients’ records with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services’ Statewide Central Register (SCR), and file motions to vacate neglect findings or request suspended judgments so that clients’ records do not limit their employment opportunities. SCP volunteers will learn more about family law, criminal defense, or poverty law and an have the opportunity to work directly with clients and get experience in court.

  • New York City public school students who receive long-term suspensions in elementary, middle and high school are hurled into the "school-to-prison pipeline”. SRP’s goal is to advocate for students to keep them in school and on a path to graduation. SRP provides advocates with comprehensive training on interviewing and counseling, hearing procedures, direct and cross examination techniques, rules of evidence, burden of proof, and developing a “theory of the case” so that they can effectively represent students and their families in front of hearing officers at NYC Department of Education Superintendent Suspension Hearings. New advocates are always paired with experienced advocates and can turn to the BLS SRP Executive Board for support and guidance at any time.

  • UAC advocates represent unemployed workers in mini-trials concerning their rights to unemployment benefits. Advocates do everything lawyers do, including interviewing and advising clients, conducting direct and cross-examinations of witnesses, and delivering arguments to administrative law judges. UAC’s vital service doubles a worker’s chances of obtaining benefits, while also giving students meaningful and worthwhile experience in the art of advocacy. UAC may appeal to students interested in trial and appellate advocacy, labor and employment law, workers’ rights, and direct legal services.

  • UDP is a great opportunity for those interested in public interest work, family law, helping low-income members of our community, or working with victims of domestic violence. Following a training by a Sanctuary for Families attorney, students are assigned a client and then conduct interviews, prepare divorce petitions, file the court papers, and conduct follow-up meetings with the client. A separate training, conducted by an attorney with the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project, will enable students to regularly assist clients in self-represented uncontested divorces. Students will aid their clients in initiating their uncontested divorce and through entry of judgment. Male and female volunteers are welcome.

  • Working in coalition with the Urban Justice Center, VAP is devoted to representing and supporting veterans throughout the New York City area. VAP creates awareness and, through advocacy and pro bono work, seeks to provide American veterans with the basic necessities they have earned. These include VA benefits, housing, health care, and income. Opportunities include conducting intake interviews with veterans to determine legal needs, representing veterans at public benefits fair hearings in front of administrative law judges, and assisting Urban Justice Center attorneys with other legal issues veterans might face, such as discharge upgrades.

  • Launched in 2002, Food Bank for New York City’s Tax Assistance & Financial Services Program provides hard-working low-income New Yorkers with free tax preparation services, helping them get the refunds and credits to which they are entitled. These include the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)—a key piece of the public safety net, which alone can be worth up to $8,293 for families. Following a two part training course to become a certified income tax preparer, students will assist individuals with their returns, which will then be double-checked by a VITA professional to ensure accuracy.

  • BLS students design and develop a training program in conjunction with other Youth Court participants and administrators from local community high schools. Participants attend Youth Court sessions to work with young people in developing advocacy skills and general legal knowledge. BLS Youth Court participants develop mentoring relationships with high school Youth Court participants.

Contact Us

Public Service Law Center
111 Livingston Street
Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (718) 780-0689