As part of the American Bar Association’s annual effort to recognize pro bono service in the legal community during the last week of October each year, the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law has scheduled a full slate of events to encourage a spirit of volunteerism among students and attorneys, and to recognize those who generously donate their time and expertise in the community.
JoLynn Spruance, Director of the College of Law’s Pro Bono Initiative (PBI), explains that PBI provides real-world training to students while providing vital legal services to the community. “Through our Clinical Program and Pro Bono Initiative we are able to provide our law students the chance to learn in real world situations. We strongly encourage all law students to volunteer through the Pro Bono Initiative. PBI is a one-of-a-kind noncredit volunteer program that allows students a chance to work in real world situations and serve our community all under the supervision of our volunteer attorneys. Pro bono work is vital to ensuring those with the greatest need have access to our legal system! It’s vital that our law students volunteer to help our most vulnerable citizens and continue to provide access to justice to those who have the greatest need.”
Adds 3L Community Legal Clinic Law Student Fellow Isabel Moreno: “The Pro Bono Initiative is a great opportunity to step outside the academic world to do real work with real clients who need our help. By participating in pro bono work, we as students work side-by-side with seasoned attorneys to resolve complex legal issues. More importantly, pro bono service greatly serves the community by providing free access to equal justice. We help improve—if not change—the lives of those we serve.”
Travis Walker, another 3L Community Legal Clinic Student Fellow, says, “PBI is the perfect opportunity to serve. Each time I am amazed at the legal challenges the community faces. By providing a basic understanding of the problem and the possible solutions, the Pro Bono Initiative program fills a void through the Nine Free Brief Advice Legal Clinics we operate. As students we are always inspired to work harder in the classroom. The Pro Bono Initiative program also shows how we can make a lifetime of change. We see it from the attorneys that volunteer with us and bring their expertise to do good.”
On Monday, October 26 Utah Celebrates Pro Bono kicks off with a 12:15 event at the College of Law that is free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the Utah State Bar, Utah Legal Services and PBI, this event feature Rick Foster, who has been instrumental in PBI’s recent partnership with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the creation of the Community Legal Clinic: Salt Lake and Ogden. Foster will speak about the importance of service and the role of the Humanitarian Department worldwide.
On Tuesday, October 27, the Free Brief Legal Advice Legal Clinic will answer questions related to consumer issues, employment law and housing. The clinic meets from 5:00 to 6:30 pm at Horizonte (1234 Main Street in Salt Lake City). This legal clinic operates on a first-come, first-serve basis.
On Wednesday, October 28, the College of Law will host the 4th Annual Pro Bono Bake Sale. Faculty, staff, law students and local businesses all donate baked goods, which will be offered for sale from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the College of Law’s 2nd floor by the elevators.
At 12:15 that same day, Sara Kruzan will share her journey through the criminal justice system. Kruzan met her trafficker at the age of 11 and was then forced into a life of drugs, violence, and sexual exploitation. After a decision that changed her life forever, the criminal justice system failed to take into account her trauma and sentenced her at the age of 16 to life in prison without parole. Through the committed efforts by a team of Pro Bono attorneys (including College of Law Professor Michael Teter), she embarked on a journey through the criminal justice system that eventually led to her freedom.