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The Growth of Pro Bono

Wake Forest Law is known for its dedication to Pro Bono work. Over the past year, our students expanded and improved the Pro Bono Project through tireless work and creative thinking. The table below gives a small summary of the increased impact Pro Bono had in Fall 2015.

Fall 2014 Fall 2015
257 submitted their hours 475 submitted their hours
1030 total hours logged 1827 total hours logged
21% student body participation  32% student body participation

 

Individual Project’s Impact

In addition to the generalized numbers above, each Pro Bono project has demonstrated its ability to do great things for those in need.

  • Lawyer on the Line: Based on the last report, Emily Jeske’s project has set a record for cases completed in a semester.Wake Law students successfully screened around forty LOTL cases this semester. That’s more than we had last year altogether! Emily has done an outstanding job of coordinating the interaction between students and three different supervising attorneys.
  • Teen Court: Dawnielle Grace and Daniel Stratton have helped to grow one of our most popular projects. Over thirty law students attended Teen Court Academy training in September. This has translated into some fantastic court room drama and high quality advocating at Teen Court sessions
  • Advanced Directives: Maria has brought Advanced Directives to a whole new level. Advance Directives has been everywhere this semester. Students have helped raise awareness for living wills and power of attorneys (POAs) at Baptist Hospital, Novant, and the Downtown Health Plaza. During Pro Bono Week, Advance Directives tabled at the Pride parade and nine people completed the paperwork for livings wills and POAs. During the VALOR event on November 14th, Advance Directives students helped educate veterans with one veteran completing paperwork. Based on the incredible impact of Advance Directives, this project has been nominated for the annual state Pro Bono Award.
  • Prison Letters: Maya Brown has helped increase the outreach of Prison Letters by collaborating with the Innocence and Justice Clinic. We are now receiving letters through that clinic.
  • Expungement: The Expungement clinic has reached new heights through its new partnership with Samaritan’s Ministries. Emily Morris’s monthly clinics at Samaritan’s has been a huge success. With the help of Judge Hartsfield, Emily has been able to get a court clerk to attend the clinic so that the expungement process can begin on the spot.
  • Reclaiming Futures: Kendra Stark has done an amazing job of building our relationship with Reclaiming Futures. This year, Kendra organized a drug court event at the law school. Drug court kids were able to see the Wake Forest campus, a place that they usually only hear about, and were able to see what their futures could look like if they stay on the right path.
  • Immigration: Zabrina Delgado and Daniel Barrera created a new partnership with Catholic World Services in Greensboro. With this partnership in place, students have been able to help start the naturalization process for many immigrant families.
  • Wills: Bradley Setzer was able to set up two Wills Clinics this semester, instead of the usual one. We had one clinic in Pittsboro and another in Pembroke. We were able to help numerous individuals draft a testamentary will.

Annie MatonisTeen Court20150922_0012Ban the Box Expungment Clinic Green Street

New Projects’ Success
  • Know Your Rights: Stephanie Jackson has helped make the inaugural year of Know Your Rights awesome. Law students have educated prisoners on expungement laws, undergraduate athletes on police encounters, and middle school students on police encounters. Stephanie plans on presenting at area high schools next semester. This is very valuable and potentially life changing information.
  • Ban the Box: Meredith Pace hit the ground running with the Ban the Box project. Not only has this project produced the most successful expungement clinic we’ve ever had (80 people served, 20+ qualified for expungements), but Meredith has a group of students prepared to present to area companies regarding the legal implications of a ban the box initiative. Hopefully we can help Winston-Salem ban the box for good!

Ban the Box Expungement Clinic

More Good Stuff
In Fall 2015, we added a lot of new features to the Pro Bono Project.
  • Sarah Saint created the weekly newsletter and the project and student spotlight articles. These features have helped to raise our profile significantly. I’ve had so many students approach me to compliment us on the newsletter. The spotlight articles help highlight the student experience with pro bono as well.
  • We also had a mixer during orientation to expose the 1Ls to the Pro Bono Project. It certainly made us recognizable and brought a lot of excitement to our organization.
  • We also made Pro Bono Week a big event. We logged 286 hours of pro bono during this week. We also brought in Justice Cheri Beasley to talk about improving access to justice. Pro Bono Week wouldn’t have been possible without the coordination of project coordinators and the hard work of Alena Baker, Reva Singh, Kristin Smith, and Sarah Saint.
  • Professional Development added a pro bono requirement to the curriculum to help expose more 1Ls to the value that pro bono brings to law school.

Of course, none of these amazing changes and efforts would have been possible without our Director, Carson Smith, and you, our fellow students. Thank you for all of your ideas, hard work, and generosity of time and spirit! Fall 2015′s success can always be topped with new project ideas, creative ways to reach out to our students and our community, and diligently working with our established programs.

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