Georgia State Law’s Pro Bono Law Program is partnering with The Justice Collaborative and Georgia Lawyers for the Arts (GLA) this year to offer law students more practice opportunities. Volunteers can sign up for both organizations—and 10 other projects– on the College of Law website.
The College of Law’s award-winning Pro Bono Law Program connects law students to legal services organizations to help address unmet legal needs. In just two years, students volunteered for more than 1,800 hours.
Students in the law school have participated in externships at GLA in the past, but partnering with the Pro Bono Program provides even more opportunities. GLA supports independent artists and nonprofit arts institutions by connecting them with resources to address legal matters such as copyright infringement, patents and contracts. Pro Bono Program volunteers will assist attorneys in conducting legal research, preparing self-help legal and administrative guides for under-resourced artists and writing articles to educate GLA’s clients.
“Comparatively, as a group [Georgia State Law students possess] a real hunger for experiences, they have good skills and they are personable,” Bray said. “They accept constructive criticism well and incorporate it into the work.”
Likewise, Keli Young, who serves as legal counsel for The Justice Collaborative, looks forward to having Georgia State Law students help with research projects. One of the organization’s goals is to greatly reduce the United States’ overreliance on jails and prisons. Part of how they intend to do that is by having students research the drivers of mass incarceration in counties throughout the country. Students can also choose to work on data projects designed to inform district attorneys and other government officials about the impact of incarceration in their communities.
“Our goal is to have Justice Volunteer student chapters in universities across the country,” Young said. “They will devote four to 20 hours per week to research projects. They will engage in legislative analysis, policy reviews, etcetera.”
Though vastly different in their scope, GLA and The Justice Collaborative give students the opportunity to practice skills learned in the classroom. They also have a chance to see how individuals from underserved communities interact with the justice system.
“We are fortunate to be able to partner with legal services providers in such close proximity to the law school,” said Darcy Meals, faculty supervisor of the Pro Bono Program. “Having an array of volunteer opportunities makes it easier for students to contribute their time and lay a foundation for service that will last their entire career.”