University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Celebrates Pro Bono Week

Did you know students at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College Law volunteer their time to provide free legal services to those in need at a significantly higher rate in comparison to their peers at other law schools across the country?

In 2017-2018, S.J. Quinney College of Law students contributed approximately 28,400 volunteer hours toward Pro Bono work in the community through the College of Law’s volunteer opportunities with its clinical program and Pro Bono Initiative. On average, graduating U law students from the Class of 2018 volunteered about 270 hours over the course of their three-years in law school. This compares to the national average of 184 hours of Pro Bono work completed by law students at other law schools across the country during their time in law school, according to the Association of American Law Schools.

This month, the College of Law and legal community will honor those efforts as part of the annual Utah Celebrates Pro Bono Week in collaboration with the Utah State Bar and Utah Legal Services.

Each October, the American Bar Association promotes Pro Bono Week —an annual effort to recognize pro bono service in the legal community. The S.J. Quinney College of Law will host several events starting on Monday, Oct. 22 to encourage a spirit of volunteerism among students and attorneys, and to recognize those who donate their time and expertise in the community.

At the College of Law, many students gain access to volunteer opportunities through the Pro Bono Initiative — a noncredit volunteer program that allows students to build real world problem-solving skills to serve their community. The program has a three-part mission: to provide skill building legal opportunities under the direct supervision of attorneys; to develop placements where alumni can volunteer, network and serve as mentors to law students; and to demonstrate the professional responsibility of those in the legal profession to provide pro bono legal services to the underserved in the community who otherwise would not have access to the justice system.

The U’s PBI sponsors 12 free brief legal consultation clinics throughout the Salt Lake City and Ogden areas, including: American Indian Law, Community Legal Clinic: Salt Lake, Community Legal Clinic: Ogden, Community Legal Clinic: Sugarhouse, Debtor’s Law, Expungement Law, Family Law, Medical-Legal Law, Rainbow Law, Street Law, Wills for Heroes, Veterans Legal Clinic operate year-round and are staffed by volunteer students and volunteer lawyer supervisors. PBI also pairs students with practitioners in various placements including law firms, where students assist on pro bono matters, as well as nonprofit organizations and legal-related agencies.

Pro Bono Week will commence on Oct. 22 with an awards ceremony at the S.J Quinney College of Law (383 South University Street, Salt Lake City) 12:15 p.m. where awards will be given to the following people in recognition of their efforts toward Pro Bono initiatives:

Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award: Judge Paul Parker.

Distinguished Pro Bono Legal Clinic Award:  Rainbow Law volunteer attorneys:  Jess Couser, Shane Dominguez, Russell Evans and Stewart Ralphs.

Distinguished Pro Bono Law Student Awards:  Michael E. Harmond, Samuel Mehr, Daniel Surfass and Wendy Vawdrey.

The awards ceremony will include a keynote address by University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Professor Linda Smith.

Smith has directed and developed the S.J. Quinney College of Law’s Clinical Program for more than two decades, where she has helped students’ combine service with their study of lawyering skills and ethics to produce greater self-knowledge while providing representation to needy clients and governmental entities. Her clinical work began at Yale Law School where she participated in the prison legal services clinic and continued at Greater Boston Legal Services where she was the senior attorney in family law and supervised Harvard Law clinic students.

Smith also has engaged in scholarship about the pedagogy of clinical legal education and civic engagement, including the need for access to justice. She focuses on the intersection of the lawyer’s skills and ethics, having written extensively on the skills of client interviewing from the perspective of conversation analysis. Her scholarly work, also includes writings in the area of family law.

Other events throughout the week include a free law clinic, a bake sale and a program highlighting student stories from the U’s clinical law program, in which students’ complete internships for credit.

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018
Street Law Clinic Blitz
5 – 6:30 p.m.
Horizonte School in the cafeteria (1234 Main Street, Salt Lake City)

Wednesday, Oct.24, 2018
PBI Bake Sale
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., level 2 by the elevators at the S.J. Quinney College of Law (383 South University Street)
*Contact Britny Mortensen to donate »
All proceeds go towards supplies for our PBI Legal Clinics.

Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018
Pro Bono through the Clinical Program Panel – This is a student event
“Helping the Needy through the Clinical Program”
12:15 – 1:15 p.m., S.J. Quinney College of Law (383 South University Street)
Clinical Program students will discuss service work while doing internships for credit. Second and third-year law students will share stories about their clinical experiences, including work done at the following clinics: Civil, Criminal, Innocence, Public Policy, and Tax. Lunch provided.