FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Joining other top law schools across the nation, the Indiana University Maurer School of Law has adopted a Public Service Program, part of which will establish an aspirational level of pro bono work to be done by students.
Beginning in fall 2009, students will be encouraged to fulfill 60 hours of pro bono work during their three years of schooling. Though the goal is not mandatory, the law school hopes students will dedicate an average of 20 hours each year to providing law-related services without pay or academic credit.
"The greatest satisfaction of a legal career lies in serving the public good," said Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Clinical Education Julia Lamber. "The purpose of our program is to make sure that our graduates appreciate that."
The Public Service Program will be a "mosaic of pro bono, clinical and community service opportunities," Lamber said.
It will match volunteers with opportunities through the state's pro bono project, as well as through the pro bono coordinator and attorneys at Baker & Daniels in Indianapolis. IU Maurer Law has an ongoing relationship with Baker & Daniels for staffing pro bono matters and hopes to establish similar relationships with other law firms in the future.
While the law school offers extensive clinical opportunities, this new initiative encourages students to volunteer with local endeavors like the Tenant Assistance Project, the Inmate Legal Assistance Project, and the Protective Order Project. But the work can be done anywhere.
Third-year law student Rachael Yates, one of the school's two pro bono coordinators, organized a trip to New Orleans last year where a team of IU law students helped residents with paperwork and other issues stemming from Hurricane Katrina. The Public Interest Law Foundation regularly schedules trips to destinations where there is a great need for service.
"We were doing things like successions, family law and FEMA appeals," Yates said. "We worked on things that are small in terms of the legal issues at hand but were barriers to access to funds that should have been available for rebuilding homes and other forms of aid."
Second-year student Judy Reckelhoff, also a pro bono coordinator, said this type of work offers students an immediate way to begin practicing the skills they learn in the classroom.
"You're helping real people with real problems," Reckelhoff said. "These aren't hypothetical situations. Working with the Protective Order Project and with Indiana Legal Services has enhanced my learning dramatically."