Presentation on theme: "Law Student Engagement in Statewide Websites David Bonebrake, NTAP Liz Keith, Pro Bono Net."— Presentation transcript:
Law Student Engagement in Statewide Websites David Bonebrake, NTAP Liz Keith, Pro Bono Net
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Presenters David Bonebrake, NTAP Liz Keith, Pro Bono Net Daniel Attaway, A2J Student Editorial Board Rona Roberts, Legal Aid Network of Kentucky Leah Margulies, LawHelp.org/NY Director
Get to Know Your Law Students How many law students were seeking a J.D. from an ABA-approved law school in the 2006-2007 school year? (a) 112, 454 (b) 141,031 (c) 125, 088 (d) 162, 416 Source: ABA Legal Education and Student Resources: http://www.abanet.org/legaled.html
Get to Know Your Law Student How many American law schools are currently approved by the ABA? (a) 145 (b) 119 (c) 188 (d) 197
Schools Approved Since 2000 Appalachian Law School (VA) University of Nevada-Las Vegas (NV) Ave Maria Law School (MI) University of St. Thomas (MN) Drexel University College of Law* (PA) Barry University (FL) Charleston Law School (SC)* Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law (AL)* Florida A&M University College of Law (FL)* University of LaVerne College of Law (CA)* Liberty University School of Law (VA)* John Marshall Law School (Atlanta, GA)* Phoenix School of Law (AZ)* Western State University College of Law (CA)* Florida International University (FL) *ABA provisionally approved
Get to Know Your Law Students What percentage of students work during their third year of law school? (a) 55% (b) 60% (c) 74% (d) 80%
Todays Presentation Benefits of using law students Specific Models for law student engagement Real world examples Developing law student projects Barriers and challenges Federal programs Law students as a constituency for your SWEB
Why Engage Law Students? Students are a good fit for statewide websites because they: Embrace technology Are eager to gain legal experience Provide a low-cost option
Why Engage Law Students? SWEBs are a good fit for students because: Website projects can accommodate students busy schedules Opportunity for students to gain legal-related work experience Opportunity to help the community
Role of Law Schools in SWEB Law schools have an interest in providing pro bono opportunities for their students: In 2004, the ABA changed the accreditation standards for law schools. Under the new standards, A law school shall offer substantial opportunities for student participation in pro bono activities. Good publicity Critical to their law students career development
Models for law student engagement Institutional partnerships with a law school or pro bono program For-credit internships/summer placements/part-time positions Consider Federal Work Study Volunteers Others?
Institutional Relationships: A2J Student Editorial Board A2J Student Editorial Board at Chicago- Kent College of Law Student-run initiative directed at helping law students create A2J Author Interviews for Illinois Legal Aid Online.
A2J Student Editorial Board The Board has authored 12 A2J Guided Interviews that are now hosted on IllinoisLegalAid.org Spanish-proficient students have translated Interviews Students are also involved in writing research memorandum on the law underlying the Interviews they build
Developing Law Student Projects Identify appropriate projects What are students looking for? What are you looking for? Common approach: discrete website projects as part of broader legal aid internship
Law student involvement in substantive projects TN Relative Caregiver Manual
Law student involvement in substantive projects A2J Interviews for Student Editorial Board
Law student involvement in substantive projects Law student involvement in content development for probono.net/VA and VALegalAid.org Grant from Virginia Law Foundation provided stipends Content vetted by attorneys
Volunteer placements VA partnership with law schools A2J Student Editorial Board Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation
Matching projects with expertise Finding students with technology experience Work with those doing recruiting in your organization to make expertise and interest in technology a greater consideration in hiring law students and staff
Recruiting students Take advantage of pro bono programs / pro bono hour requirements Alternative to traditional courtroom lawyering Identify career placement staff with a public interest Consider first-year students Some schools have programs to help first- years find funding for placements
Benefits: The student perspective Promoting access to justice for low-income people More control over schedule for semester Opportunity to make legal aid contacts Chance to get to know an area of law as it relates to how ordinary people are affected by legal problems.
Project management considerations Develop a workplan Consider supervision and support needs Knowledge transfer Have a system in place to document work done on the site
Barriers and Challenges Students perceive SWEB work as too far disconnected from the practice of law Students do not fully understand the purpose of the SWEB More practical challenges: Difficulty writing for a low-income audience Lack of practical knowledge of the law The half-life of student projects
Students Perception of the Practice of Law Students enter law school with some perception about the practice of law and, likely, about legal aid: Court work Interviewing clients Research for a case For legal aid, these activities in context of helping low-income people It can be difficult to overcome this perception Some programs add a website assignment as part of students internship or work experience At the same time, many students have bought into the idea of statewide websites Just as the SWEB needs to be sold to the broader legal community in the state, it needs to be sold to law students
Practical Challenges Challenge of writing for the SWEB audience In law school, students are often rewarded for making complex and difficult legal arguments in their writing Plain language resources: http://www.lsntap.org/node/2319 http://www.lsntap.org/node/2319 Students lack practical law experience Purpose of a statewide website is to provide very practical guidance for your client-base Have students work with or interview advocates Consider advocate or pro bono content
Half-Life of Student Projects Students begin ambitious projects with lots of enthusiasm Halfway through the project the students other obligations become more pressing Project is ultimately left unfinished
Federal Work Study Many programs already use federal work study to pay student workers Federal government will subside up to 75% of student workers pay Federal work study is financial aid and based on need Not all students qualify Law students financial situation considered independent of their parents FWS can be combined with for-credit internships
Federal Work Study Community Service Jobs are given special priority in FWS Schools must use at least 7% of its FWS allocation to employ students in community service jobs According to the FWS Handbook, community services are defined as services that are identified by an institution of higher education… as designed to improve the quality of life for community residents, particularly low-income individuals, or to solve particular problems related to their needs. In addition, to be considered employed in a community service job for FWS purposes, an FWS student does not have to provide a direct service. The student must provide services that are designed to improve the quality of life for community residents or to solve particular problems related to those residents needs. A school may use its discretion to determine what jobs provide indirect or direct service to the community.
College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 Students that work in public service for ten years will qualify to have federal loans taken out after the law was enacted forgiven Makes legal aid more attractive to many students who are passionate about the cause, but are concerned about paying their educational expenses
Law students as a constituency for your SWEB Benefits or recruiting law students as members Connecting your law students to pro bono opportunities CALegalAdvocates.org PAProbono.net
Contacts David Bonebrake – firstname.lastname@example.org@lsntap.org Liz Keith – email@example.com@probono.net Daniel – Dattaway@kentlaw.edu– Dattaway@kentlaw.edu Rona Roberts – Rona@robertsandkay.com