PBCSI training connects law students with pro bono organizations

During the first week of February the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) was busy training law students for a variety of legal and non-legal volunteer opportunities. Students were invited to attend sessions with Lawyers in the Classroom, Illinois Legal Aid Online and PBCSI’s own Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project. 

Lawyers in the Classroom, sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago (CRFC), is an opportunity for law students to work with middle school students at Pritzker Elementary School, a Chicago Public School in Wicker Park and one of PBCSI’s long-standing partner organizations. Law students partner with a class to teach an interactive lesson in constitutional law. The lessons contain a series of hypothetical situations to engage students. One lesson asks students to consider a student who brings a “sacred blade” to school; an important religious symbol that could also be used as a weapon. CRFC Program Director Anita Dellaria conducted the training at DePaul on February 4. 

NLAP Supervisor Damon Ritenhouse explains expunging and sealing criminal records to law student volunteers.
Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) is a legal website that provides free legal information and help to Illinois residents. O
perators help people navigate the ILAO website. ILAO’s LiveHelp Volunteer Coordinator Makoroba Sow came to DePaul College of Law to train students interested in volunteering as LiveHelp operators.

ILAO’s volunteer opportunities are great for busy law students because all of the work is done online, so students can volunteer from the convenience of their own apartment if needed. Last, but certainly not least, PBCSI’s Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project (NLAP) held its spring training on February 6. Led by PBCSI student coordinators and NLAP volunteers June Kowalewski and Andrew Hays, and NLAP Supervising Attorney Damon Ritenhouse, the students were trained how to help clients obtain state IDs as well as the process to seal and expunge criminal records in Illinois. 

"All three of the trainings gave law students a variety of ways to get involved in pro bono and community service work," said PBCSI Director Cheryl Price. "While each of the organizations works to serve different populations across the Chicago and even Illinois, they all give law students a valuable chance to engage with and give back to the community."