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September 6, 2007

First-year law students volunteer for public service projects

First-year law students at The University of Texas School of Law will volunteer for eight public service projects this fall as part of the Law School’s Society Program.

“The projects for each of the Law School’s eight societies were coordinated over the summer by the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law and announced at this fall’s orientation for new students,” said Allyson Childs, Director of Student Programs at UT Law. “These projects are intended to reinforce the notion that public service is part of the legal profession and to encourage students to give back to the Austin community.”

Childs noted that this is the third year that law students will volunteer to work on projects at the Austin State School and the second year for Inside Books, Shoal Creek Clean-up, and Habitat for Humanity. Law students will also be holding the second annual food drive benefiting Caritas.

The Society Program was introduced in 2004 to build a stronger sense of community among law students and to further improve student access to UT Law faculty members. Each society offers first-year law students a range of professional, academic, social, and public service activities. The societies are named for individuals closely associated with the Law School, such as Gloria Bradford, the first African-American female to graduate from UT Law; Carlos Cadena, a 1940 graduate who was a respected judge and civil rights crusader; and Leon Green, a 1915 graduate who was one of the Twentieth Century’s most important torts scholars.

“When the Society Program was formulated four years ago, pro bono and public service projects were seen as a very important component,” said David Sokolow, a UT Law professor and the director of Student Life. “We want our students to see the commitment to pro bono and public service as being a part of every lawyer’s life. So we want to expose our students to pro bono and public service work as early in their law school experience as we can.”

The service projects are part of the Public Service Initiative sponsored by the Justice Center and the Office of Student Life. The initiative introduces students to the need to increase access to justice and the concept of public service as an expected part of every lawyer’s career. This year’s events included:

“The purpose of the Public Service Initiative is to show students that public service is highly valued by the Law School and by the legal profession,” said Eden Harrington, Director of the Justice Center. “Our goals are to assist the community and to develop lawyers who will be prepared to help increase access to justice regardless of their career paths.”

Students will begin working on the following community projects in Austin this week and next:

Related links:
UT Law Announces New Society System for First-Year Students: http://www.utexas.edu/law/news/2004/071204_societies.html

Press contact: Kirston Fortune, Assistant Dean for Communications, (512) 471.7330 or kfortune@law.utexas.edu.

Program contacts: Allyson Childs, Director of Student Programs, School of Law, 512-232-1134, and Eden Harrington, Director of the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law, School of Law, 512-796-1198.