Center for Public Interest Law and Advocacy

Student

Under the direction of Professor of Law Gary S. Gildin, the Center for Public Interest Law and Advocacy is the hub of public interest law at Dickinson Law. Supporting concentrated research and scholarship in public interest law and advocacy, the Center creates practice experiences for students through pro bono service, and provides ongoing support for public interest practitioners through training and resources.

Public Interest and Pro Bono Advocate Recognition

The Miller Pro Bono Program will recognize as a Miller Public Interest or Pro Bono Advocate any student who during his/her law school career performs at least 60 hours of legal work in a public interest settings, including but not limited to Legal Services Office, Public Defender Office, American Civil Liberties Union, The Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center, County or Federal Bar Association Pro Bono Projects, Children’s Advocacy Clinic, Community Law Clinic, Medical-Legal Partnership Law Clinic, as well as other settings that serve individuals who traditionally have not had full access to justice.

The Miller Pro Bono Program provides a number of opportunities for students to engage in qualifying work.

Compensated activities and activities for which academic credit is received (such as internships) do qualify for recognition as a Public Interest Advocate. If you have not already been certified, have completed 60 hours of qualifying service, and wish to be recognized as an Advocate, you must submit a minimum two-page, double-spaced, typed memorandum setting forth the following:

  • confirmation of your attendance at Dickinson Law;
  • a general description of the program or office in which you performed public interest legal work:
    • whether you received any compensation or academic credit for the work,
    • an estimate of the amount of hours worked, and
    • a description of the type of work that you performed; (and if you had direct client contact, please describe).
  • note whether you are applying to be recognized as a Pro Bono Advocate for uncompensated and non-credited work with a qualifying organization or for recognition as a Public Interest Advocate;
  • a reflection on what impact the public interest aspects of the experience had on your legal education as well as what skills or insights you will transfer to your post-graduate career; and
  • an analysis of what would be necessary to increase access to justice to the constituents that the office represented. Please focus on what, outside of funding, would enable the office to better serve its clients and their communities. If there is a specific area, department or program that is in need of better funding, or if you have ideas on sources of funding, please include those observations in the memorandum.
Publications Addressing the Need for Legal Services

Access To Justice Resource Center (ABA)

The Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives was created to better serve bar, bench and legal services leaders who are engaged in establishing or expanding state access to justice efforts. This Resource Center, and these web pages, bring together in one place a wealth of information on structures for access efforts, activities undertaken by access commissions in various states, and assistance with raising funds to support expanded legal aid/access to civil justice programs.

Access To Justice Support Project (NLADA)

The Access to Justice Support Project (formerly SPAN, the State Planning Assistance Network) is a joint project of NLADA and the Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID) of the American Bar Association. It provides support and coordination for state-level partnerships dedicated to improving civil legal assistance and expanding access to justice for low-income people.

Documenting the Justice Gap in America (LSC)

The Legal Services Corporation released Documenting the Justice Gap in America, an updated report of the need for legal services for the poor in America that expands on the 2005 report and shows that a continuing justice gap exists. It addresses pro bono services as one facet of the answer to closing that gap.

Legal Services to the Public Committee Access to Justice Task Force Civil Gideon Resources (PBA)

The Access to Justice Task Force is charged to develop broad implementation strategies for the right to civil counsel that was passed at the November 30, 2007, PBA House of Delegates meeting, including strategies to fund a right to civil counsel as well as strategies to maximize private bar efforts in that regard in support of court and other efforts to improve access to the justice system.

Student Resources

Join the Pennsylvania Bar Association

The Pennsylvania Bar Association provides access publications, conferences, and resources that will connect you to a broad network of lawyers interested in bettering the legal profession including an immediate connection to the PBA Pro Bono Office.

Join PAPROBONONET

With Probono.net, access extensive library of law materials including articles, reports and research designed to assist those stepping out of their practice areas to help build the bridge over the justice gap. Gain access to pro bono projects and community events as well as insights into the ever existing need for pro bono legal services.

Fellowships, Funding and Job Search