Empowerment, Innovation, and Service: Law School Programs Provide Access to Justice and Instill a Commitment to Serve
Law schools around the country seek to fill the legal needs of their communities in ways that are both innovative and mutually beneficial to clients and students. This article describes five pro bono and clinical programs, at the University of Richmond School of Law, The Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University, Catholic University Columbus School of Law, the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and Vermont Law School, where law students, under the supervision of law professors or community professionals, provide assistance or legal representation to underserved and often marginalized populations needing help with family law problems, including parents accused of abuse and neglect, youth aging out of foster care, homeless families, survivors of domestic violence, homeless veterans with addiction problems, and female prisoners.
To develop their programs, the five law schools from the outset collaborated with partners in the community, and they continue to do so as their programs expand and evolve. In addition to helping and empowering clients, these law schools are providing experiential learning opportunities that are transformative for their students. The authors hope that these programs will be instructive for law schools, other academic institutions, the legal community, and community organizations in developing creative collaborations to ensure better access to justice.