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Pro Bono Program announces 2012 Pro Bono in January trip

In anticipation of National Pro Bono Week (October 23–29), the Pro Bono Program is pleased to announce that the application for the 2012 Pro Bono in January trip will be available on Monday, October 24.  Pro Bono in January is an annual winter break trip that gives law students the opportunity to engage in meaningful pro bono work in low-income communities.  This year, the Pro Bono Program will take forty to fifty students as well as several faculty members to the Texas Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, and El Paso during the second week of January. 

This will be Pro Bono in January’s third year in the Valley.  A group of students will work with attorneys with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and the South Texas Civil Rights Project to staff wills clinics in various Valley cities. Under the supervision of local attorneys, students will interview low-income property owners about their estate needs and help draft wills for them.  In addition, the students will undertake field research for a major study for the Texas Legislature on the use of contracts for deed in Texas colonias, a project of the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Law School’s William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law.  

The students will learn about real estate practices in the border region and legislation passed by the Texas Legislature over the past two decades to curb abuses in the sale of property. In the field in the Valley and Laredo, the students will investigate the ways in which colonia residents have acquired and sold property, and will assemble, analyze, and categorize relevant legal documents for inclusion in the study.

Several other small groups will work on immigration matters.  One group will help South Texas Civil Rights Project assemble immigration petitions for women filing for legal residency under the Violence Against Women Act.  Another group will work with South Texas Pro Bar assisting immigrant detainees.  And a group in El Paso will work on similar immigration matters for clients of Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services Inc. and Annunciation House. 

Pro Bono in January provides an opportunity for law students to apply skills and theory learned in school. All projects provide students with the chance to work with experienced attorneys, while allowing them to use their legal education to help others. Several of the projects will involve substantial client interaction. In addition, students working in the Valley will have the opportunity to network in the local legal community through attorney lunches and an alumni reception.  

This is the Law School’s fifth winter break pro bono trip.  The first two trips, organized by the Justice Center, sent law students and faculty to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi to help low-income residents in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  The Justice Center continues to provide financial and administrative support for the trips, which are now organized by the Pro Bono Program. 

The 2012 Pro Bono in January application is available on the Pro Bono Program website (PDF) or at the Pro Bono in January table in the Susman Godfrey Atrium on Tuesday, October 25, and Wednesday, October 26, between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.  First-year studentss are encouraged to apply.  Applications are due by noon on November 4. 

About the Pro Bono Program:

The Pro Bono Program’s vision is that students at the University of Texas School of Law will engage in pro bono work to increase access to justice and develop a lifetime commitment to providing legal services to those in need.  Launched in 2009, the Pro Bono Program is a project of the Law School’s William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law. 

Related links:

Pro Bono Program

National Pro Bono Week

Contact: Tina Fernandez, Director, Pro Bono Program, William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law, 512-232-6170, tfernandez@law.utexas.edu

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