Public Interest Law Initiative

Preparing Students for Future Service: Highlights from the 2019 Law School Pro Bono Roundtable

Posted on: August 18, 2019

On July 24th, representatives from area law schools met at the offices of Ogletree Deakins for PILI’s annual Law School Pro Bono Roundtable. This year, the group covered several topics related to preparing students for future public interest law and pro bono service.

Introducing PILI’s Pro Bono Opportunities to Law Students

PILI Executive Director Michael Bergmann and Senior Managing Attorney Brent Page discussed PILI’s efforts to expand pro bono opportunities for law students, particularly through Illinois Free Legal Answers clinics. PILI has already hosted several clinics at law schools with current students and alumni. The law school leaders shared strategies to make sure the clinics would be successful. PILI set a goal to host at least one clinic in all Illinois law schools over the next two years. The group also discussed how law students could participate in PILI’s Legal Help Within Reach program to give students a unique pro bono opportunity while helping people in need in rural and underserved communities.

Serving Law Students in Light of Revised NALP Restrictions

Katelynn McBride Barbosa of Notre Dame Law School shared some of the recent changes in NALP restrictions that would affect law students, including when students can apply for internships and jobs. PILI had typically had two different application start dates for 2Ls and 1Ls due to NALP restrictions but the attendees agreed moving to one application date of November 1st is the best idea. They also discussed how to prepare students for conferences and career service fairs where they may now be able to interview positions wherein they hadn’t been able to before.

Planning and Marketing Programs Effectively for Law Students

Kathryn Shelton of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law led a discussion about how to best plan and market pro bono programs for law students. Some mentioned having success hosting smaller, more intimate programs for students. They also discussed how to best use streaming services like Facebook and YouTube Live to make programs more accessible.

Preparing Students for the Realities of the Workforce

Sucheta Misra of the John Marshall Law School led this discussion on how to best teach students about professionalism in the workplace including answering phones and sending emails. They also discussed wellness and mental health and how to talk to students about these issues in law school. In addition, the group discussed how handle concerns law students have in professional settings.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2019 Law School Pro Bono Roundtable. Register now for the Illinois Forum on Pro Bono on November 7th, which also brings together law school, corporate, agency and law firm pro bono leaders.

Learn more about the PILI’s Pro Bono Program »

Learn more about PILI’s Roundtables and Forums »

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