DePaul’s Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center, Center for Public Interest Law, and Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative joined forces with Illinois Legal Aid Online to host a Legal Answers pro bono clinic in family and housing law. The clinic took place on Friday, February 24th at DePaul College of Law.
Fifteen pro bono attorneys, many of who are DePaul alumni, and twenty five law student volunteers participated in the virtual legal advice clinic. They worked in small groups to research and respond to family and housing law questions on the Legal Answers website (il.freelegalanswers.org). Legal Answers is an American Bar Association sponsored web program where lower income Illinois residents can ask an attorney for help with a legal issue. Legal Answers uses technology to increase access to legal help while making pro bono easy for attorneys. By the end of the clinic, the attorney/student teams answered forty-six family law and seven housing law questions.
The attorneys enjoyed working with students, helping them figure out how to answer complex family and housing law questions in a manner that is understandable and accurate. According to Michelle Cass, alumna and associate at Rinella & Rinella, Ltd.: “The pro bono clinic offered an excellent opportunity for practitioners and students alike to connect with and assist families in need of legal advice. Students rose to the challenge and conveyed professionalism and poise while addressing the access to justice gap that continues to be a rising call to action for the family-law community.”
The students found the hands-on experience invaluable. First-year law student and Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Fellow, Hannah Thayer, explained that the clinic was incredibly worthwhile: “The pro-bono event was extremely beneficial because I was able to work hands-on with a practicing attorney in a field that I am interested in to answer real-life questions. It gave me the opportunity to learn about specific statutes and requirements while also applying skills that are taught in 1L classes. This experience allowed me to gain more knowledge of and interest in family law, while also helping others in a time of confusion and need.” First-year law student Sal De Los Angeles agreed: “The Legal Answers Pro Bono Clinic was incredible. I think what made it so valuable to me as a student, was the opportunity to work and be mentored by a practicing attorney. I would definitely do it again.”
DePaul College of Law is the first law school in Illinois to offer this type of clinic and hopes to host additional clinics in the future. It was the perfect blend of pro bono, mentoring, and legal tech to address access to justice issues.
DePaul University College of Law
congratulates three students, Lark Mulligan, Fadya Salem and Emily
Steinert, on winning scholarships at the 2016 Unity Award Dinner & 14th Swearing-In of Bar Presidents Ceremony
. Both Mulligan and
Steinert received the Jerold S. Solovy Diversity Scholarship
Award, which honors students who promote diversity within the legal
field and improve their communities as a whole through
pro bono work and advocacy. Salem earned a Bar Exam Preparation
Scholarship, which goes to third-year students with proven academic success, plus
the need for financial aid.
All three students engage in
public interest law through different areas. Mulligan, who also
recently won the Women's Bar Foundation scholarship, provides
extensive assistance to the Transformative Justice Law Project of
Illinois and focuses on LGBTQ issues, namely offering pro bono legal
aid to transgender people. Steinert helps refugees and other
underrepresented people by working for nonprofit organizations,
including the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights,
United Nations Population Fund and the Cape Town Refugee Center in
South Africa. Salem educates others on their constitutional rights
through her association with the First Defense Legal Aid Street Law Program
and Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project.
The Unity Award Dinner is hosted by the
Diversity Scholarship Foundation, NFP. It celebrates legal
professionals across three states who are dedicated to enhancing
diversification within the legal community, and has become one of the region's biggest professional diversity events. Along with honoring
students, the ceremony recognized others who have chosen careers in public service, such as Illinois Secretary of State Jesse
White, who was this year's Unity Award Recipient; Chasity Boyce,
Tiffany Harper and Cecilia Horan, who were among the Advocates for
Diversity Awards recipients and the Honorable Laura C. Liu who
posthumously won the Access to Justice Award. The dinner also
features the symbolic swearing-in of more than 50 bar presidents who
pledge their commitment to diversity, unity and friendship among
their fellow professionals; Judge Timothy Evans officiated
2016's Oath of Unity.
Lubna S. El-Gendi, director of student
affairs and diversity, hosted the DePaul Law
table and spoke highly of the students and their "inspiring,
amazing work for communities," as well as of the numerous alumni who supported the event. She further complimented the organizers for
the night and the entertainment, which featured Secretary White's
tumbling group. El-Gendi also noted that following the heated
rhetoric surrounding this year's presidential election, it was
encouraging to see people who recognize the importance of
diversity and of bettering their communities.
University College of Law's Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center joined with the Center for Public Interest Law and the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative to host a discussion on
public service and child advocacy work. Professor Allison Ortlieb
moderated the panel, which featured the Honorable Patrick T. Murphy
of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Domestic Relations Division
and Susan DeCostanza, staff attorney from Chicago Volunteer Legal
Services. Focusing on the work of Cook County's Public Guardian Office, the
speakers educated attendees on the value of aiding others and how
experience in public interest can improve one's overall legal acumen.
Judge Murphy described his experience as the first Cook
County Public Guardian. During his 26 years in the role, he saw how
the Public Guardian program expanded from just aiding adults to also helping children. Throughout his career, he has also inspired legal reforms to benefit youths. DeCostanza further explored the importance of
Public Guardians, such as how they make the legal process easier for
children and families.
DePaul University College of Law is proud to announce its 2016 Loan Repayment Assistance Program
Started in 2006, the Loan Repayment Assistance Program recognizes graduates
who have dedicated their career to the public sector by providing them with financial support towards alleviating their student debt. Over
the past decade, more than 60 alumni have benefited from the efforts
of the program and its sponsors.
The nine recipients for 2016 are:
DePaul will host a reception to celebrate the recipients at the College of Law on
Thursday, November 3 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. For details, please visit the event calendar.
DePaul University College of Law's Journal of Social Justice
welcomed author Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve
for a talk about her new book, Crook County: Racism and Injustice in
Chicago's Largest Criminal Court
. Crook County
from Van Cleve's 15 years of field research into Chicago's criminal
court system, and her analysis of the racially
biased culture that
permeates it. She and her staff interviewed judges, prosecutors,
defense attorneys and other members of the legal community and
discovered the various types of discrimination (both explicit and
implicit) that occurs at multiple levels of the law.
praised the event and what they learned from Van Cleve's insights
into the judicial system. Javier Roman, an employee at a Chicago Boys
and Girls Club as well as an interviewee for Crook County,
discussed his experiences with people in need and expressed the
universal problem that "no one is trying to understand the why
[individuals may commit crimes]." DePaul College of Law students
also felt the presentation enhanced their understanding of
their future careers. Patricia
Hudson, a 3L, found the talk "insightful, thought-provoking, and
encouraging! As an African-American and future attorney, I can
completely recognize the issues that Dr. Van Cleve has presented to
the rest of society," and it further encouraged her "to continue
to figure out my role within the law community." Another 3L, Tobin
Klusty, who interns with the Cook County Public Defender's Office,
called it "eye opening." He continued that although the
discovery that "Cook County frequently discriminates against people
of color is disturbing, the end of [Van Cleve's] speech was inspiring
- future lawyers and the community can work together to stop
discrimination in Cook County."
Journal of Social Justice hosted the program and received support
from the Center for Public Interest Law and the DePaul University Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity.
DePaul University College of Law's
public interest law and health law programs each received high marks
from from preLaw magazine in the 2016 Back to School issue
. The periodical ranks law schools that are dedicated to innovation and provide exceptional
offerings in key areas. DePaul was one of only five schools to
receive an A+ rating, the magazine's highest grade, in public
interest law, while its health program garnered an A-.
The public interest law program offers students myriad opportunities for professional growth with a focus on social justice issues. Among its most notable programs are the DePaul Journal for Social Justice, a first-year
legal writing section dedicated to public interest law, summer job placements, and numerous
pro bono and volunteer opportunities.
Shaye Loughlin, the executive director of the Center for Public Interest Law, was "thrilled to learn about our public interest grade by preLaw magazine." She said Professor Emeritus Leonard Cavise, the founding faculty director of the center, recognized how the public interest law program reflects the university's Vincentian philosophy to aid the poor and vulnerable in our communities. “The preLaw grade recognizes the strength of our public interest law training program and our committed community of social justice advocates,” continued Loughlin.
For more than 30 years, DePaul's health law program has been on the forefront of
health law education, research and scholarship. The health law curriculum offers a wide range of coursework in traditional, face-to-face classes, online classes, fieldwork and other experiential offerings. Courses cover diverse areas including regulatory, corporate compliance, policy, social and ethical issues.
Through the Mary and Michael Jaharis Health Law Institute (JHLI), students also have numerous opportunities to expand their potential in the health law field through a fellowship program, summer job placements and moot court competitions. Executive Director Katherine Schostok and Faculty Director Wendy Epstein oversee the JHLI programs.
DePaul’s College of Law held its fifth annual 1L Service Day
on August 19, 2016. This year, more than 100 volunteers participated, including
incoming students, second- and third-year students, and faculty and staff, as
well as Dean Jennifer Rosato Perea.
Volunteers chose between seven service sites throughout the
city to visit and assist persons in need: Pacific Garden Mission, Cornerstone
Community Outreach, Marillac House, Legal Prep Charter Academy, Catholic Charities
Madonna House, Catholic Charities St. Vincent de Paul Residence, and Howard
Area Community Center. Among their responsibilities were making beds and
serving meals at homeless shelters, preparing classrooms for the upcoming
school year, and interacting with senior citizens.
During the event, College of Law Chaplain Tom Judge
encouraged participants to share what motivates them to serve. Some felt that
“it’s a good way to meet and connect with new students,” while others agreed
that “it is part of how I live out my faith.” By taking part in 1L Service Day,
participants were able to accomplish these and other goals, in addition to
exploring different communities in Chicago and aiding others.
The Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative and
University Ministry in the Loop organize the annual event with support from the
Center for Public Interest Law.
Shehnaz Mansuri joined DePaul's College of Law as director of the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative in June 2016. In this role, Mansuri will lead the pro bono and community service program for students, faculty, staff and alumni. She will work closely with community partner agencies and develop new opportunities for DePaul students to gain professional and legal skills while assisting the community. She also will manage the Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project, DePaul's pro bono legal help desk that operates at a food program for the homeless in Chicago's South Loop.
Mansuri has more than 15 years of public service experience. Prior to joining DePaul, she served as manager of the Pro Bono Service Initiative at the University of Chicago Law School, where she oversaw a wide range of pro bono opportunities, developed new partnerships with law firms and legal aid agencies, and engaged students to participate in pro bono service projects. Before moving to academia, Mansuri was a trial attorney at a Chicago-based civil rights litigation boutique where she gained substantial federal, state and appellate court experience representing clients in police accountability cases.
Mansuri is a member of the board of directors of Illinois Legal Aid Online and is a member of the executive committee of the Section of Pro Bono & Public Service Opportunities of the Association of American Law Schools. She received her BS in psychology from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana and her JD from Loyola University Chicago.
A criminal record is like a ball and chain — even after the sentence is served, it can weigh a person down for years. An old conviction can keep a person from getting jobs, loans, and even public housing, and those being crushed beneath this burden rarely have the legal resources to free themselves. Sue Lee finds injustices like these intolerable, and that indignation moved her to pursue a career in public interest law.
“There’s obviously a huge gap between those who can afford legal services and those who cannot, and the wider the gap, the greater the social injustice that exists in the world,” said Lee.
This May, Lee will graduate from the DePaul University College of Law with a Juris Doctor. “I felt like I wanted to be a part of bridging that gap by providing those legal services,” she said.
Public interest law as a second career
Lee’s first career was in the ministry, both working in a local church and most recently, at a Christian college where she oversaw the service opportunities of its students. However, she was ready to be more involved. “I was compelled to be more personally engaged in those social issues my students encountered,” said Lee. “As a person of faith, I started praying and asking people who mentored me about how I could do this, and I really felt God calling me to go to law school.”
Lee enrolled at DePaul and was immediately drawn to the Center for Public Interest Law. Before she even began her classes, Lee reached out to the center’s executive director, Shaye Loughlin, asking how to get involved with the center’s work.
“In that first year, Sue was present for every event, every networking reception and every opportunity to learn,” said Loughlin.
At these events, Lee began to navigate the wide field of public interest law. The center and Loughlin became a touchstone for Lee and helped her pursue scholarships and internships. “I don’t know how I would have accessed all of these resources without the center,” said Lee.
She took a position as the center’s student assistant, and Lee brought a “tremendous skillset” from her previous work experience, said Loughlin. Lee helped with every aspect of the center’s programming and improved center communications and outreach to the community. In all that she does, Lee is adamant about advocating for support and resources for underprivileged and marginalized populations.
“I feel that as lawyers, it is our professional responsibility to be involved in some form of pro bono legal services,” said Lee. She assisted with DePaul’s Public Interest Law Association’s annual auction to ensure that her classmates had financial support to pursue unpaid summer positions in public interest law. Faculty and alumni took notice, and for two summers in a row she was awarded DePaul’s Honorable Lawrence X. Pusateri Endowed Fellowship for her summer public interest internship.
“What I say to students is that you will get out of law school what you put into it, and Sue is a prime example. She put all of herself into being an engaged law student and pursuing public interest law opportunities. Now, as a result of that dedication and hard work, she has been awarded a prestigious fellowship that will allow her to follow her dreams and work for social justice,” said Loughlin.
In her time at DePaul, Lee volunteered for a number of public interest legal organizations, including LAF (formerly the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago), where she worked on juvenile expungement. She also contributed time to the Chicago Legal Clinic and the Center for Disability and Elder Law founded by the Chicago Bar Association.
A commitment to justice
Recently, the Skadden Foundation awarded Lee with a prestigious Skadden Fellowship. She will work with Cabrini Green Legal Aid and primarily focus on juvenile and adult expungement and the issues young people face surrounding criminal records, which Lee believes is one of the most difficult legal issues facing the underprivileged today.
“So many people, even after they’ve served their time in prison or completed their community service, and after their case is closed, are still suffering the consequences of having a criminal record for many years. Somehow, an employer lawfully or unlawfully gets ahold of one’s record, and that person may face barriers to employment, housing, or public benefits. It’s all affected, and certain people are unable to move on in their lives, and I feel that that is an injustice,” said Lee.
Lee will begin the two-year fellowship in September as a full-time staff lawyer for Cabrini Green Legal Aid. She is determined and excited to bring justice to those in need.
“I basically get to do my dream job,” she said.
Spirit of service
Reflecting on her education and career thus far, Lee noted that DePaul’s Vincentian mission and values aligned with her own.
“From what I know of St. Vincent de Paul, he modeled his life after the two greatest commandments in the Bible, which are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself,” she said. “And that’s my mission in life as well.”
Story courtesy of the DePaul Newsroom. Article written by Kyle Morrell.
DePaul University College of Law’s Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) recognized 84 students who collectively reported more than 15,000 service hours during academic year 2015-2016 at an awards reception on April 21.
Alumna Kathleen Curtin (JD ’07) received the 2016 Pro Bono Alumni Award for her deep commitment to pro bono work in the area of family law. Curtin, who currently runs her own law practice, is a dedicated volunteer at the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services and Prairie State Legal Services. She also serves as president of the Association of Women Attorneys of Lake County.
Among the awardees, 30 graduating students received the Benjamin Hooks Distinguished Public Service Award for contributing 200 or more hours of service while at DePaul. The award is named for the late Benjamin L. Hooks (JD ’48), a civil rights activist and former executive director of the NAACP, the first African-American to be named to the Federal Communications Commission, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Third-year student Alex Antonacci, a PBCSI student coordinator and Hooks Award recipient who tallied 334.5 service hours while at DePaul, reflected on her pr
o bono experience.
“I learned the importance of giving back,” she said. “With my law degree comes a responsibility to use it to give back to my community.” Antonacci will be working as an assistant public defender in Palm Beach County, Florida, after graduation.
Following are this year's award recipients.
||Sukhpal Singh Kooner
|Class of 2016
|Danielle DeLeon Spires
|Class of 2017
||Maria Gimena Puppo Martinez
|Class of 2018
|Class of 2016
|Class of 2017
|Class of 2018
||Anne Marie Knisely
More than 225 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members gathered at the 20th annual DePaul Law Auction on February 19 to raise money for stipends to support students who work in unpaid, public interest positions over the summer. More than $20,000 was raised, including ticket sales and other monetary donations. The stipends support students working at nonprofits and government agencies, which often have heavy caseloads, but are unable to pay summer interns to help serve more clients. Students receiving these stipends have worked in areas such as civil rights, disability advocacy, domestic violence, immigration and criminal law.
This year's event included a silent auction, a raffle and a live auction. Popular silent auction items included four one-day "hopper" pass to Disney World, tickets to a Cubs v. Cardinals game, a FitBit HR, a Las Vegas hotel package and tickets to a Second City comedy show. Following the silent auction, Professor Alberto Coll led a live auction, which included many of the highest priced items for the event. Bidding wars ensued for an Australian dinner for six students with Professor Zoë Robinson, which went for $1,000, and other popular items included a weekend getaway at a Wisconsin cabin, a faculty Whirlyball challenge, and a private, in-home wine tasting party for up to 18 hosted by Wines for Humanity. In addition, many professors and alumni donated networking lunches and dinners.
The auction is one of the most amazing gatherings and showings of community support I have ever seen,”
said PILA auction committee chair and second-year law student Madeleine Wineland. “
It's truly remarkable to see so many students and faculty come together on behalf of those in the public interest law community. I am so happy to be a part of this.”
Third-year student and SBA president Alex Antonnaci agreed. “The auction is such a great event each and every year. It's a great place to socialize with students, faculty, and staff you don't normally see—all while raising money for a worthy cause!”
The Public Interest Law Association organizes the event each year. The auction committee, chaired by Madeleine Wineland, would like to thank all those who attended and donated to the auction.
Pro Bono and Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) volunteers participated in the Marillac Social Center's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Fair on January 16 on Chicago's West Side.
As part of PBCSI's Donate-a-Day program, volunteers helped Marillac students and their families with arts and crafts, playing bingo, dancing, decorating cookies and reading short stories. Before the fair ended, volunteers, students, family and staff gathered together to discuss the importance of MLK's legacy and its relation to community and, in particular, gun violence in Chicago. After the group discussion, DePaul volunteers heard from Marillac staff members and young women who had attended Marillac's after school program for a number of years and continue to volunteer or work there.
“It was honestly one of the most rewarding experiences I have had at DePaul,” said first-year student Katy Green. “More than the actual Donate-a-Day was the opportunity we had to sit down with several girls, who were all around the same age as us, and hear their stories about gun violence and the struggles they face on a daily basis just walking around their neighborhood. Our discussion highlighted the importance of having places like the Marillac Center for kids to go to in order to just be kids. You could tell that the families and staff were appreciative of us being there. It was a really great experience.”
PBCSI's next Donate-a-Day event will be held Saturday, February 20, at Deborah's Place, which provides housing and services to homeless women in Chicago.
DePaul third-year law student Sue Lee is the
recipient of a 2016 Skadden Fellowship to support her work in public service following law school. Lee is one of 28 graduating law students and judicial clerks from across the country who received this prestigious two-year fellowship established by law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
In collaboration with sponsoring organization Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA), Lee’s project will target at-risk, emerging adults, ages 15 to 24, in Chicago, with legal services in the areas of criminal record expungement, housing law and family law. Through these efforts, she hopes to remove the legal barriers to employment and lessen the impact of collateral consequences of having a juvenile or criminal record.
“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to do the exact kind of legal work that I’ve dreamed of right after I graduate,” Lee said, “working with an organization and staff attorneys that I respect and can learn from, alongside social service organizations that have already been serving the inner-city youth in Chicago for decades.”
The Skadden Fellowships, which provide a salary and benefits, were established in 1988 in recognition of the need for greater funding for graduating law students who want to devote their careers to helping the poor, elderly, homeless and disabled, as well as those deprived of their
civil or human rights.
Assistant Professor Cary Martin Shelby
shared her experience growing up in foster care at the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center
's January 14 Lunch-n-Learn.
From a teen growing up in Illinois’ foster care system to a lawyer and law school professor, Professor Martin Shelby has surmounted many obstacles. Yet she cites the constant movement from one foster home to another as a top challenge in her life.
Describing her journey for law students and staff, Professor Martin Shelby credited teachers and caseworkers as some of her staunchest advocates, helping her with everything from clothing and toiletries to discovering a path to college. She recalled one caseworker, in particular, who told her she could attend college for free and helped her navigate the application process. Once in college, Professor Martin Shelby identified law school as a goal and proceeded to earn her JD from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. Following law school, she joined law firm Sidley Austin and worked on regulatory and corporate matters involving hedge funds, commodity pools and derivatives trading.
Professor Martin Shelby also discussed the role of lawyers and the court system in her life. She found her guardian ad litem most helpful, she said, if she needed a new placement because of issues in a particular foster home or with a particular foster family. She also talked about how Illinois’ foster care system could improve, particularly when supporting youth who are transitioning out of foster care to independence.
The Black Law Student Association(BLSA) and Center for Public Interest Law co-sponsored the event. In addition to teaching at the College of Law, Professor Martin Shelby is the faculty advisor for BLSA.
BLSA President Gloria Crawford was deeply moved by the presentation. “The January Lunch-n-Learn with Professor Martin Shelby was one of my favorite panel discussions that I have attended thus far in my law school career,” said Crawford. “As BLSA president I have had the pleasure of working closely with Professor Martin Shelby. She has always encouraged and supported me both personally, and as a law student and student organization leader. For me, learning the story behind the woman was inspiring and motivating. Her experience in foster care was eye-opening for me, because my background in a two-parent household was vastly different. She could have let this difficult situation define her and her future. Instead, she used it as fuel for success for herself and her son. As a law student I feel blessed and honored to know that Professor Martin Shelby is on the faculty of my law school. Her presence lets me know that I can face adversity and win. One of the most important lessons that she taught me [during the presentation] was that it is possible to achieve success while unapologetically striving for my own happiness.”
For her first law school summer, Annie Simunek pursued an
even greater challenge—a new legal system.
Simunek spent the summer in India, interning with the International
Justice Mission (IJM). The human rights organization works in 20 communities
around the world, partnering with local justice systems to help victims of
violence. Highly selective, IJM accepted just 13 of more than 400 applicants to
its 10-week summer internship program.
In college, Simunek worked with Indian families in the U.S.
and abroad, teaching and working at children’s homes in South and North India.
She studied theology and international studies online through Ecclesia College,
originally based in Arkansas. Inspired to volunteer, she chose to work for a
year and a half in India because of its high population of orphans and street children. At
DePaul Law, she gravitated toward the International Human Rights Law Institute
(IHRLI) and received guidance from Executive Director Elisabeth Ward. She also
began working with Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center Executive Director
Cheryl Price and Center for Public Interest Law Executive Director Shaye
“I started leaning toward public interest law near the end of
my last spring semester and just wanted the summer to determine if that was the
best direction for me,” Simunek said. She was honored with a Child and Family Law
Fellowship and an International Human Rights Law Fellowship, both of which
fully sponsored her work in India this summer.
Simunek said she identified and chose IJM for their
antihuman trafficking mission as well as their distinctive Justice System
Transformation Model. “Essentially, they aim to work themselves out of a job so
that the local government will adopt the process,” she explained. “And they’re
seeing that happen in communities such as Cambodia.” Training began at IJM’s Washington, D.C., home office the
first week of June. Simunek, who knows some Hindi, braved a heat index of 130
degrees her first week in India. At the IJM office, she provided direct support
to the head of legal and staff attorneys in researching and supporting trial
briefs as well as assisting with training programs for field workers in
relieving victims of sex trafficking and bringing perpetrators to justice.
Simunek said she was struck by the differences in the legal
systems of the United States and India and how injustice manifests itself in
both countries, yet in opposite ways. “Often the United States is quick to prosecute and hand
out long prison sentences for smaller offenses. In India, it was often very
difficult to get convictions. Convictions could take up to 10 to 15 years and,
even then, those convicted may apply for bail at any time.”
She explained that her experience in India allowed her to
view U.S. current events through a new lens. “My work overseas really gave me
time to see human rights issues here in the U.S. I came back from India at the
end of the summer inspired to face legal issues here and to aim to enact policy
changes and system reform in my home country.”
Simunek plans to pursue criminal law and juvenile defense
litigation or public interest clinical work, working with clients who cannot
afford representation and continuing her focus on anti-human trafficking.
“One of the things I like about DePaul is that a lot of my professors
are adjuncts,” she said. She cites Cook County Public Defender Richard Hutt and
Jay Readey, executivedirector at Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under
Law, as examples.
“They’re working in the places I’m interested in. They have
really valuable real-world experience that they bring to class.” For the time
being, Simunek is bolstering her commitment to justice on a local level with an
externship at the Chicago Legal Clinic’s Pilsen office, providing community-based legal services
to the underserved and disadvantaged in the Chicago area.
Lark Mulligan, a second-year law student at DePaul University College of Law, received the 2015 Pro Bono Publico Award from the National Association of Legal Professionals Public Service Jobs Directory (PSJD).
Mulligan is the first DePaul student to receive this national award. The award honors second- or third-year law students at PSJD Subscriber Schools who have made a significant contribution to underserved populations, legal education and the public interest community through pro bono work. The selection committee considers the student’s work toward law-related public service projects or organizations and the impact of that service on the community, fellow students and the school.
The Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (IACDL)
will be honoring DePaul College of Law alumna, Amanda Graham (‘12), as one of two Outstanding Young Attorneys for
2015 who will receive this award at IACDL’s Annual Dinner on November
20, 2015 at the University Club of Chicago. After graduating from DePaul with a certificate in criminal law, Ms. Graham, along
with another DePaul alumna, opened up a private practice in criminal defense
before she transitioned into owning her own practice. Ms. Graham is currently an attorney
with the Federal Defender Program working on post-conviction cases and serves
on the Northern District of Illinois’ Re-Entry Court team assisting released
defendants with addiction and mental health issues. She is also pursuing a
Master of Arts in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago.
If you are interested in attending IACDL’s annual dinner, please
DePaul University College of Law presented its annual Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) awards to eight DePaul alumni currently working in public interest positions across the country on November 5. The Loan Repayment Assistance Program is designed to assist DePaul law graduates with lower-paying public sector jobs to manage their educational debt. The program started in 2006 and has helped 54 alumni since its inception. Recipients shared remarks about their passion for the work in public interest law and expressed their gratitude for DePaul's financial support to make these career paths possible.
This year’s LRAP recipients are:
- Rocio Alcantar ‘10, National Immigrant Justice Center
- Samuel Keen ‘14, Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands
- Courtney Kelledes ‘13, Cabrini Green Legal Aid
- Natalie Lilavois ‘13, The Legal Aid Society, Bronx, New York
- Maria Macias ‘11, Justice For Our Neighbors – Dallas Fort Worth
- Ryann Moran ‘07, Cabrini Green Legal Aid
- Olivia Villegas ‘10, Life Span Center for Legal Services & Advocacy
- Lindsay Van Fleet ‘10, Vermilion County Public Defender’s Office
Chicago Legal Clinic Co-Founder Edward I. Grossman (JD '81) is a recipient of the Justice John Paul Stevens Award for his commitment to community and public service. Grossman was honored at the 16th annual John Paul Stevens Award Luncheon at the Standard Club in Chicago on October 13. Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stevens was in attendance to help honor this year's eight award recipients.
Grossman co-founded the Chicago Legal Clinic in 1981 and has served as its executive director since 1985. The clinic provides legal services in southeast Chicago, Pilsen, Austin and the downtown areas, serving more than 375,000 people. He is active in several bar associations, including the Federal Bar Association, the Chicago Bar, the Illinois Trial Lawyers and the Federal Trial Bar. He is an arbitrator of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and a special commissioner for the Federal Courts, Northern District of Illinois.
Presented by the Chicago Bar Foundation and Chicago Bar Association (CBA), the Justice John Paul Stevens Award honors lawyers and judges who reflect Justice Stevens' lifetime effort to improve the system of justice and his active participation and dedication to the CBA.
Alumna Rocio Alcantar (JD '10) was selected by the Chicago Bar Foundation to receive a Sun-Times Public Interest Law Fellowship. There are five fellowships awarded annually to attorneys who have dedicated their careers to public interest, and as a recipient of this fellowship, Alcantar will receive $20,000 in loan repayment assistance over five years to help her continue her career in public interest law.
The Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) and Legal Assistance Foundation's (LAF) Young Professionals Board cohosted "The Healing Lawyer: Bringing the Affordable Care Act to Communities in Need" panel on October 14.
The panel consisted of two attorneys from LAF who work with those positively affected by the Affordable Care Act (ACA): Carrie Chapman, director of the public benefits group, and Alice Setrini, medical legal partnership project supervisory attorney. The conversation was moderated by David Rodriguez, clinical instructor of the Poverty Law Clinic and director of the Third Year in Practice Program.
Chapman and Setrini discussed how those living in poverty have specifically benefitted from the ACA and how access to healthcare has helped open doors to healthier communities, breeding more economically and socially stable communities. They also described how LAF has identified and pursued implementation issues surrounding ACA and the importance and growth of medical-legal partnerships. Chapman and Setrini then offered tips for lawyers interested in helping, such as familiarizing oneself with resources under the ACA now available to clients, directing clients to the ACA marketplace website and helping clients fill out applications.
The event was cosponsored by the Jaharis Health Law Institute, the Public Interest Law Association, and the Pro Bono and Community Service Initiative.
Cecilia Abundis (‘04) was awarded the Excellence in Legal Service Award at the Mexican American Legal
Defense and Education Fund’s (MALDEF) 2015 Chicago Awards Gala in June. Every year at the gala, MALDEF shares about
the organization’s work in addressing the issues of the Latino community and
acknowledges those individuals for their work in the “exemplary advancement of the legal rights of
Latinos,” who also exhibit knowledge, patience, and perseverance in improving
the legal standing of the Latino community.
As an Assistant Attorney General in the Consumer Fraud
Bureau of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, Ms. Abundis has investigated
mortgage lending institutions, for-profit schools, immigration services
providers or “notarios”, car dealerships, and mortgage brokers for violations
of the state’s consumer protection laws. She regularly appears on Spanish-language media, speaking on various
consumer protection issues, and she has helped train Mexican prosecutors in
trial advocacy skills, in collaboration with the Conference of Western
Attorneys General’s Alliance Partnership.
Ms. Abundis graduated from the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and earned her
J.D. from the College of Law in 2004. While at DePaul, she participated in the
Chiapas Human Rights Practicum and wrote a report on the internal displacement
in the lower-northern zone in Chiapas, which was submitted to the Special
Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons with the Office
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations. Ms. Abundis was also an advisory council
member of DePaul’s Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL). She continues to mentor and work with law
students and prospective law students through her involvement with the National
Latino Law Students Association, Illinois Latino Law Students Association, and
the Hispanic Lawyers’ Association of Illinois JD Mentor’s Program.
Rey Lopez-Calderon, Executive Director of Common Cause Illinois, said this about
Ms. Abundis: “There’s very few people
you meet in life that are able to just wed the passion for social justice with
a strong professional demeanor and at the same time just volunteer and be part
of society, be committed to family… that’s just something that, whether you’re
Latino or not Latino, it’s an outstanding model for the rest of society . . . to
meet someone like Ceci is just a breath of fresh air . . . .”
In April, the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) invited four attorneys from the Office of the Cook County Public Defender to speak with students about the realities and myths of a career as a public defender. Students interested in becoming public defenders had an opportunity to receive career advice and to learn about the pivotal role public defenders play in challenging our nation’s criminal justice system.
Public defenders Ashley Shambley, Katie Calhoun, Joey Cavise and Theodore Thomas shared their experiences and answered students' questions. Shambley shared her personal experience with police violence and racism, and how these experiences led to her desire to advocate for poor communities of color. Calhoun addressed students' concerns about transitioning into practice, common student fears about preparedness, and how she navigated those concerns and now comfortably and confidently carries her caseload. Cavise and Thomas advised students on what classes to take and other opportunities available at DePaul to help them in their training to become successful advocates.
"This was an incredible panel that reaffirmed my commitment to fight for justice as a public defender," said Max Suchan, a third-year student. "I would encourage younger students to attend similar events in the future, and get involved with the Center for Public Interest Law.”
When it comes to comparing maternity leave and paid-time off with other countries, the United States ranks close to last. The Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) gathered students, practitioners and faculty together on Wednesday, March 18 to discuss gender and pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Attorneys Amy Meek, Mike Persoon and Sarah Baum shared their knowledge, advice and personal experiences related to the topic of gender and pregnancy discrimination.
Meek, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois spoke specifically about her work at the ACLU and the new laws in Illinois that combat pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Meek detailed the recent and controversial case, Young v. UPS, which is still being decided in the Supreme Court, and spoke on its impact on state laws that may or may not benefit pregnant employees. Meek also discussed the three major differences between federal laws and laws in Illinois, the latter seeming to favor pregnant women much more.
Persoon, a DePaul alumnus and attorney with Despres, Schwartz, and Geoghegan, Ltd., focused on the different ways people are discriminated against by their employers. He discussed how victims can prove they were discriminated against, referencing the McDonald-Douglas scale and federal and state laws. Persoon also stated that although he rarely, if ever, hears of an employer discriminating against one’s gender, he surprisingly has a number of cases where women have been fired specifically because they were pregnant.
Baum, a DePaul alumna and attorney with DePaul University’s Croak Legal Services, spoke of her work with employment discrimination at LAF prior to joining Croak Legal Services. She detailed the Family Medical Leave Act, which offers employees 12 weeks of time off. Baum explained that employees, especially pregnant women, may utilize the act if they feel they are not given enough time off after childbirth.
Overall, all three attorneys emphasized that more work needs to be done, not only with gender discrimination, but also with pregnancy discrimination. Although many other countries offer six to nine months of maternity leave, paid time off and maternity leave for fathers, the panel felt that the likelihood of the United States adopting similar laws is slim.
The Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative
(PBCSI) held its annual service awards reception on April 23, 2015, in the
This year 117
law students earned a service award for
reporting at least 50 hours of legal or nonlegal volunteer work while at
Students also earned service awards for reporting 100 and 200 hours of service.
The College of Law recognized 40 students with the Benjamin Hooks Distinguished Public Service Award, which is given to graduating third- and fourth-year students who report 200 or more service hours.
Law students reported over 18,000 hours of service in academic year 2014-2015.
In addition to law student service awards, PBCSI presented the 2015 Pro Bono Alumni Award to alumnus Dan Sylvester (JD '13). He is currently an associate at the Chicago office of Holland & Knight
and a member of the firm’s financial services team.
Sylvester is the national chair of Holland & Knight’s Veterans Affinity Group, which is dedicated to raising awareness of the issues facing military veterans and increasing pro bono activity focused on military veterans. In this role, he has
coordinated the training of over 50 attorneys in 16 cities across the country
to be trained in the ABA Veterans Claims Assistance Network (VCAN). VCAN provides unrepresented veterans who have pending disability benefits claims with the opportunity to work with lawyers who will help the veterans complete their claims packages for expedited review by the VA—at no cost to the veterans.
The training that Sylvester coordinated at Holland & Knight is now posted on the ABA’s VCAN website as their approved online training for any VCAN attorney applicant. In light of his impressive pro bono record and dedication to serving veterans, PBCSI was delighted to recognize Sylvester with
the Pro Bono Alumni Award.
At the conclusion of the event, PBCSI Director Cheryl Price encouraged students to continue volunteer work while at DePaul and as they go on to practice law.
“We are proud that our students and alumni embrace DePaul’s Vincentian mission of service and social justice and have put those beliefs into action.”
See the complete list of the 2015 service award recipients.
On April 16, 2015, the DePaul
Journal for Social Justice hosted a panel discussion about the rights of people
who are homeless. The panel brought together an activist lawyer, community
organizer, social justice professor and a national non-profit leader from
Chicago and Detroit. The diverse panel allowed for a robust discussion on the issues
that people who are homeless face, as well as how large non-profit
organizations and attorneys can make a difference in helping to de-criminalize
Clark Washington, a community
organizer with the Detroit Action Commonwealth, a longstanding grassroots
organization and newly registered non-profit, began the discussion by touching
on some of the biggest issues that homeless individuals face on a daily basis. He
focused on the issues surrounding a lack of access to identification and
government services, housing, and transportation. Following that discussion, Washington
shared some of the significant accomplishments of his organization, namely the
implementation of Street Outreach Court Detroit, as well as a successful effort
to force the City of Detroit to implement and manage warming shelters
throughout the city. Washington’s remarks were powerful, and his stories
Charles Levesque, the Executive Director
of Depaul USA, a nationwide nonprofit committed to helping the homeless and
rooted in the Catholic tradition, discussed his organization’s role in helping
to implement better housing, healthcare, and access to employment for homeless
men in several cities across the country. He also described for the attendees
the interplay between homeless rights and the responsibilities that such
homeless individuals must uphold in order to be afforded such rights.
Dr. Greg Markus, Professor Emeritus of the University of
Michigan and founding organizer of the Detroit Action Commonwealth, began his
discussion by explaining the creation of the Detroit Action Commonwealth and sharing
the current initiatives of the organization. He also explained how without
sufficient government identification an individual cannot attain a job, bus pass,
education, or healthcare. Markus made an impassioned plea to the legal
community at the event to undertake and support initiatives to aid homeless
individuals. According to Markus,
lawyers are in a perfect position to help change social policy in favor of people
experiencing homelessness. His enthusiasm and honesty was both thought
provoking and moving.
Finally, the Laurene Heybach,
senior counsel at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, discussed the recent
enactment of the Bill of Rights for the Homeless Act, and how her organization
was instrumental in advocating for the bill. She used her experiences to shed
light on how similar initiatives, in other mid-western cities where homelessness
has become a widespread cause of concern, could be implemented. Her clear care
for the homeless community radiated through her words and her gestures, and in
doing so she acted as a great role model for young and aspiring public interest
The panel discussion served as
opportunity for a critical conversation about the injustices in the ways that
our country has criminalized people who are homeless. It is up to those in positions of power to
actually make changes to our policies and policing, and to do so in a way that
helps the least advantaged in our communities.
The Journal for Social Justice, University Ministry and the Center for Public Interest Law had the honor and privilege of hosting Sister Helen Prejean for a roundtable discussion with students, faculty and alumni.
Sister Helen, Nobel Peace Prize finalist and New York Times bestselling author of the academy award winning movie, "Dead Man Walking," is an anti-death penalty advocate who has served as a spiritual adviser to death row inmates.
Sister Helen began her anti-death penalty advocacy while living in the St. Thomas housing project in inner-city New Orleans. It was there that she became aware of the harrowing connection between poverty and oppression and prison. While in St. Thomas, she became a pen pal with a Louisiana death row inmate.
The roundtable conversation began with Sister Helen describing her first experience as a spiritual adviser for a death-row inmate. She described it as a "secret ritual" that much of the rest of the world renounces. This experience became the subject of her first book, "Dead Man Walking." The book was published in 1993, a time when 80% of Americans supported the death penalty.
Despite the large number of death penalty supporters, Sister Helen said she knew the story needed to be told. She finds that many people who support the death penalty do not know much about the process and what it entails. She works tirelessly to resist the death penalty and educate the public as a lecturer and writer.
When asked how she chooses inmates to work with, Sister Helen said it is a decision that she can’t explain. She has been a spiritual adviser to five death-row inmates, visiting with them from throughout their time in prison and to their execution. She also counsels the families of murder victims as the founder of “Survive,” a victim’s advocacy group in New Orleans.
A powerful point in the conversation came when Sister Helen pushed the group to think about how we treat a human with dignity. With the firm belief that "everyone is better than the worst thing they’ve ever done," she reminded attendees that, despite their actions, people in jail are still human, and this is the same value that St. Vincent advocated in his work.
Sister Helen described the important role lawyers play in anti-death penalty work: Lawyers are critical in framing the story told about inmates and furthering the idea that they are better than their crimes. For death-row inmates, lawyers and advocates are often times the only human dignity they have left. It is the passion for human dignity that keeps Sister Helen moving forward in her fight against the death penalty.
First-year law student Byron Munro is the Pro Bono Community Service Initiative’s April Volunteer of the Month. Munro was chosen as this month’s volunteer because of his deep and exemplary commitment to service during his
first year of law school.
Munro knew from the start that he wanted to get involved with pro bono and community service work while in law school. The College of
Law’s wide range of volunteer opportunities for students made it easy for him
to “hit the ground running.”
In fact, Munro started volunteering before classes even began by participating in the College of Law’s 1L Service Day at Legal Prep Charter Academy where he helped
to organize classroom libraries.
"Being in the city of Chicago, and seeing the disparities, I realized there needed to be a voice, especially for particular demographics," Munro explained.
Munro's commitment to volunteering is evidenced by the variety and consistency of his work. Munro is a regular volunteer with Lawyers in the Classroom, where he teaches lessons on the U.S. Constitution to middle school students at Pritzker Elementary School. He also assists pro se petitioners at the Center for Disability Elder Law’s Guardianship Help Desk and has enthusiastically attended just about every single Donate-a-Day that PBCSI has sponsored this year.
In addition to that, Munro was a participant on the New Orleans service immersion trip with University Ministry this past December and spent his spring break volunteering at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center as part of PBCSI’s Pro Bono "Staycation."
Munro said he has enjoyed all of the volunteer and pro bono work he has done throughout this year but cites the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center as his favorite volunteer site. "Working with the youth and helping them realize that not everyone has given up on them and this is not the end for them was an amazing experience," he said.
Munro is interested in pursuing a career in sports law, but wants to remain committed to pro bono work in whatever he does. In fact, he is interested in creating a pro bono initiative at whatever law firm he ends up and working closely with his colleagues who also want to pursue this work.
"Society as a whole still has a way to go in order to bridge the gap between all of these inequalities," Munro urged. "Unless you are
taking action, nothing is going to happen. I might not be able to change the
world, but I hope I can be a point of inspiration for someone to carry on
whatever legacy they want to leave behind."
The Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) concluded its
third legal skills series of the academic year on April 27. Candace Wayne, College of Law alumna and
principal of Wayne and Jemilo, taught the series, Basics in Family
The series aimed to give students a basic
introduction to family law, but also to introduce students to concepts such as child custody and visitation issues, child support and maintenance, and
property settlements in a divorce. A
practical skill the students learned was how to evaluate different assets in a
marriage to start identifying the distribution of those assets during a
contested divorce. It concluded
with a discussion on how to manage a work-life balance in family law.
Basics in Family Law took place on five consecutive Mondays from
March 30 to April 27. Students who
attended all sessions received a certificate of completion. The series was co-sponsored by the Schiller
DuCanto & Fleck Law Center.
The conclusion of this series caps a third successful year
for CPIL in hosting this program. Each
series gives students the opportunity to explore different areas of public
interest law while gaining practical and transferable legal skills. Topics selected each year are based on
student participants’ interests and suggestions.
CPIL started this year’s program with the Immigration Skills
Series, taught by Rocio Alcántar
(JD ’10), staff attorney at the National Immigrant Justice Center. This series offered a brief overview and
understanding of the causes of migration for children. This series was offered in the fall. The second skills series, offered in the
beginning of the spring semester, focused on criminal law, specifically, on the
collateral consequences of a criminal record and examining legal routes to
mitigating those effects for employment purposes. Courtney Kelledes (JD ’13), staff attorney at
Cabrini Green Legal Aid, taught the second series. The series then highlighted
the various types of convictions that can be sealed or expunged and the
intricacies associated with taking steps to start those processes. It also addressed
other avenues to mitigating a criminal record, such as petitioning for
executive clemency, a health care worker waiver, or a certificate of
The CPIL Public Interest Legal Skills Series is driven by
student interest and by CPIL dedication to providing extracurricular learning
opportunities for students.
The Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) concluded its
second legal skills series of the academic year on March 16, 2015. Courtney Kelledes (JD ’13), staff attorney at
Cabrini Green Legal Aid, taught the four part series titled “Mitigating the Collateral Consequences of a
Criminal Record.” While a law student
at DePaul, Ms. Kelledes interned with CGLA's Criminal Records department and
organized CPIL's 7th Annual Symposium, Fighting the Stigma: Overcoming the
Barriers of a Criminal Record, in 2013.
This series was designed to give students an overview of the
collateral consequences of a criminal record, focusing the majority of the
series on examining legal routes to mitigating those effects for employment
purposes. Kelledes first focused on a
brief introduction of the effects of a criminal record, particularly the
prevalent use of background checks by employers. The series also highlighted
the various types of convictions that can be sealed or expunged and the
intricacies associated with taking steps to start those processes. Students in attendance also learned practical skills such as how to adequately read and identify important information on a client’s RAP
sheet and criminal disposition. The
series concluded with addressing other avenues to mitigating a criminal record,
such as petitioning for executive clemency, a health care worker waiver, or a
certificate of rehabilitation.
The series took place on four consecutive Mondays from
February 23 to March 16. Student who
attended all four sessions received a certificate of completion. CPIL offers three public interest legal
skills series each academic year.
CPIL will begin the third and final legal skills series of
the year on March 30, 2015. The final
skills series will be a five-session introduction to family law issues. The “Basics in Family Law” Legal Skills Series
will be taught by alum Candace Wayne.
Chelsea Geiger and
Colleen Mulligan may be first-year law students, but they have not let that
stop them from pursuing pro bono and community service projects at DePaul and throughout the Chicagoland area. In fact, the students have been named PBCSI's March volunteers of the month for their deep commitment to serving their community.
Geiger and Mulligan are two of the leading volunteers for the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative’s tutoring program with Pritzker Elementary School. For the month of February, PBCSI sent DePaul law students to tutor second grade students every Friday morning. Geiger and Mulligan have decided to continue their work at Pritzker beyond their initial commitment and tutor for the remainder of the school year.
"Working one-on-one with the kids is the best experience," said Geiger. "You can see their brains working and it is so fun to see them growing from week to week."
Mulligan added, "I absolutely love it! I help out with math, and I can see the students improving each week. It’s cool to see that you are actually making a difference and the students’ performances are improving. Despite all the craziness of law school, the kids' smiles each week seem to make it all worth it."
"Chelsea and Colleen have attended these Friday sessions with enthusiasm and excitement," said PBCSI Director Cheryl Price.
Following law school, Geiger hopes to work as in-house counsel for a big firm and is considering moving out of the United States to pursue human rights work. Mulligan is interested in immigration law,
trade law, and how the two intersect and influence each other. Both agree that no matter where their respective career paths take them, they will always remain ready and willing to serve their communities.
The Center for Public Interest Law and Law Students for Reproductive Justice co-sponsored a round table discussion with Roshni Shikari, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) Reproductive Rights Project. Shikari discussed the ACLU’s initiative to stop the use of religion to deny healthcare, commonly called "religious refusals."
Shikari emphasized the intersectionality of reproductive rights and the importance of having lawyers from different fields -- particularly, health care law, civil rights law and employment discrimination law -- involved in the fight for reproductive justice.
Students had the opportunity to ask questions about current issues surrounding reproductive health policies in the United States.
"The event gave was very helpful because it offered insight into the significant legal and political issues surrounding reproductive rights in the U.S. today and directly relevant to my future career as a women's rights advocate," said third year student Katie Filous.
n February 19, almost 200 students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered at
the 19th Annual DePaul Law Auction to raise money for scholarships for students
working in unpaid summer public interest internships. Over $16,000 was raised. The funds from the event support students working at nonprofits and government agencies. These organizations have heavy caseloads, but are unable to pay
summer interns to help serve more clients. Students receiving scholarships have worked in areas such as civil rights, disability advocacy, domestic violence, immigration and criminal law.
The auction was very successful, with a notable high attendance by alumni, and many items available. The event included a silent auction, a raffle
package, and a live auction. Guests were treated to a variety of hors d’oeuvres and open bar as they explored the silent auction. Popular silent auction items
included a float in a SpaceTime Tank, Park Hopper passes at Disney World, a St.
Louis vacation and a dozen Sprinkles' cupcakes.
After the silent auction closed, Professor Howard Rubin led an exciting live auction. The live auction included tickets to a Bulls
game, a weekend getaway on a Wisconsin farm, and dinner at the chef’s table at
Ada Street. Many professors and alumni generously donated networking lunches and dinners.
The Public Interest Law Association Auction Committee, chaired by Katherine Davis
(’16), would like to thank all those who attended and donated to the
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.
Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) is a legal website that provides free legal information and help to Illinois residents. Operators 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."
In collaboration with the Pro Bono & Community Service
Initiative and UMIN in the Loop, the College of Law’s Diversity Committee commenced its “Continuing our Legacy” series on Martin Luther King, Jr. with an
afternoon of reflection and service.
Despite the fact that MLK Day is a federal holiday, approximately 45 student and staff volunteers donated their time to fulfill Dr. King’s vision, and to answer his question of “What are you doing for others?”
The program began with comments about Dr. King’s legacy, including his commitment to community service. Volunteers were encouraged to "pick up the baton handed down by earlier generations" and carry forth the efforts and spirit of service in order to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.
After these remarks, volunteers viewed the Eyes on the Prize video series, which focused on Dr. King’s freedom marches in Chicago to protest the systemic racial segregation and discrimination in the city during the Civil Rights movement.
The volunteers then ventured into the community to one of two service sites: Cornerstone Community Outreach (CCO), a homeless shelter for families in Uptown, and Jackson Square, a nursing home facility on Chicago’s west side.
At CCO, volunteers played games and made Valentine’s Day cards with the youth
residents and also sorted clothing donations. Before starting these activities, CCO’s volunteer coordinator gave the volunteers a brief orientation about the services offered at CCO and discussed the stereotypes and misconceptions about homelessness.
First-year law student Sophia
Yanuzzi said, “We all know that volunteering in the community
helps the community. What we do not always realize is how it also helps us. At this month's Donate-A-Day, I experienced a strong sense of fellowship not only with the other student volunteers but also with the DePaul coordinators and the Cornerstone staff.”
Khiabett Osuna, another first-year law student, added, “I learned more about MLK in a short video shown to us that day, than in 12 years of public school. I don't think I ever knew that Dr. King had tried to help Chicago, or that he was met with so much hate in the north.
It was great to have that context when we actually went and did our service at
the homeless shelter.”
A second group of dedicated volunteers headed out to Jackson Square nursing home to spend time with seniors. Upon arrival, one of the residents read speeches of Dr. King’s and gave a synopsis of what he felt Dr. King stood for during his life. This set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. The volunteers then assisted the residents during a few hours of organized Bingo, prize winning and snacks.
“I had such a great time playing Bingo with the residents of Jackson Square," said second-year law student Lindsay Bowman. "Some were there to win big--I loved seeing their competitive edges shining through when someone else won! It felt good to give them something fun to do for a few hours, and some prizes to enjoy even after we left.”
On November 19, the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) hosted its annual forum. The theme “Refugee Children: Their Rights, Our Responsibilities,” referenced the influx of Central American children immigrating to the United States in late 2013 and through the summer of 2014.
Symposium panelists included Oscar Chacón, co-founder and executive director of the National Alliance of Latin American, Caribbean Communities (NALACC); Ashley Huebner, managing attorney at the National Immigration Justice Center and Jajah Wu, supervising attorney at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. The symposium was moderated by DePaul College of Law's Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Allison Tirres.
Panelists covered a range of issues, including the harsh realities of recent arrival immigrant children in the United States. They discussed the inadequate and often unjust responses of the federal government and the work that can and should be done to protect these children.
The panelists also discussed the process that unaccompanied immigrant children go through upon apprehension at the border, the causes and effects of the recent influx, the government's responses to this crisis and the challenges that legal professionals must overcome to ensure protection for this vulnerable population.
Students, alumni, faculty, practitioners and community leaders attended the forum. Contributors to the forum included the Society for Asylum & Immigration Law and the Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic.
On November 23, PBCSI hosted the final Donate-A-Day of the fall semester. Volunteers gathered on Friday evening at the St. Vincent de Paul Center in Lincoln Park to assist with the set up for their annual homeless outreach luncheon that would take place the following day.
At the luncheon, homeless people and families walk around the St. Vincent de Paul Center and visit various stations to receive winter clothing and coats, medical assistance, backpacks, toiletries and toys for the children. Everyone who attended the luncheon enjoyed a home-cooked turkey meal. Donate-A-Day volunteers were assigned various tasks to help set up for the luncheon, including sorting clothing and organizing the different stations to ensure the next day would run smoothly.
“Volunteering at this month’s Donate-A-Day was a wonderful experience," said Byron Munro, a 1L at DePaul. "Everyone worked well with each other and we knew our part would go a long way in helping the luncheon run effectively the next day.”
DePaul students worked with other volunteers to ensure that the set up was complete on Friday evening. This was the first time that PBCSI participated in the set up portion of the event, but students enjoyed joining together on a Friday evening to help out in the community.
First-year law student Sierra Hagl said, “From this Donate-A-Day experience I learned that giving just a tiny bit of your time can mean the world to a large amount of people. Every moment of your time counts for something and this time, my moments of time meant that someone was provided with clothing to shelter them from the cold.” Students sorted through large amounts of donations organizing winter coats and other clothing by size.
There will be three more Donate-A-Day events during the spring semester. The first Donate-A-Day event will be held on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 19, as classes are not held on this day. For more information, please contact PBCSI Coordinator Caitlin Duane.
On Thursday, November 20, the Center for Public Interest Law hosted the second session of its practice series focused on areas of disability and elder law.
Attorneys Deanne Medina from LAF (formerly the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago) and Barry Taylor from Equip for Equality lead the discussion.
The practice series allows students in a small group setting to not only hear the attorneys discuss their career paths and dispense advice for students interested in pursuing work in this field, but also to ask questions and speak individually with the attorneys.
Both Medina and Taylor discussed the experiences they had in the private sector before starting their work in public interest and shared their personal reasons for going into disability and elder law. While working at a private firm, Taylor was dedicated to providing pro bono services, which eventually motivated him to change his career. Similarly, Medina volunteered at a help desk working with the underprivileged and, because her experience was so positive, decided to go into public interest. Taylor discussed two cases of his that he is working on regarding treatment of prisoners with disability and Medina shared new initiatives at LAF.
Rocio Alcantar (JD ’10), supervising attorney for the National Immigrant Justice Center’s Access to Counsel Project, a new initiative of the Immigrant Legal Defense Project, taught the first Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) skills series of the 2014-2015 academic year.
The series was titled "Working with Immigrant Children." As the former supervising attorney with the Immigrant Children’s Protection Project and as the lead staff attorney for the Counter-Trafficking Project, Alcantar used her experiences to create a five part legal skills series to teach laws students about how to successfully work with migrant youth.
The series was designed to give students an overview of working with migrant children, assessing the forms of relief that are available and how to serve as an advocate for this community. Alcantar first focused on the overall causes of migration. The series also highlighted the various forms of relief available to migrant children, such as asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), T Visas, U Visas, etc. Students interested in the topic engaged in classroom discussion about the struggles that lawyers face when advocating for migrant children and learned practical and transferable skills.
The series took place on five consecutive Mondays from September 29 to October 27. Students who attended all five sessions received a certificate of completion. CPIL offers three public interest legal skills series each academic year.
As a way to celebrate Pro Bono Week, the Pro Bono and Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) held its annual October Donate-A-Day on Friday, October 24. For the fourth year running, PBCSI and The Center for Disability and Elder Law (CDEL) paired up to offer a great day of pro bono service for the DePaul community.
Alumni were invited to return to DePaul and participate in this event alongside current students. The Donate-A-Day focused on assisting low-income seniors with advanced directives, such as living wills and powers of attorney for health care and property. The day started with an in-depth training on drafting powers of attorney for property and health care and preparing living will declarations in Illinois. Tom Wendt, CDEL’s Legal Director, conducted the training.
After completing the training, the volunteers headed over to the Evergreen Apartments in Old Town for the workshop with the seniors. Working in pairs, volunteers were given the opportunity to work directly with clients, conducting interviews and drafting the legal paperwork for the seniors.
Leah Sibbio, a 1L at DePaul, had a very positive experience. "I found working directly with a client for my first time to be a very rewarding experience," she said. "The event allowed me to get a taste of how challenging and yet exciting the client interview process can be."
Many other volunteers shared this feeling and found the whole day very rewarding. For some alumni, this was their first experience doing pro bono work. They found the pro bono day both educational and enjoyable and hope to continue doing pro bono work. In the end, the seniors received important legal assistance and the volunteers gained valuable legal experience and exposure to public interest and pro bono legal work.
On Friday, September 26, the Pro Bono and Community Service Initiative welcomed World Relief Chicago to the College of Law for a New Americans Initiative Citizenship Workshop volunteer training for students.
The New Americans Initiative is a non-profit partnership between the State of Illinois and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights to provide free assistance to legal permanent residents who are trying to become U.S. Citizens. World Relief Chicago partners with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights to provide Citizenship Workshops as part of the New Americans Initiative. Two student groups, the Latino Law Student Association and the Society for Asylum & Immigration Law, co-sponsored the training.
The training was led by Leanor Garcia, staff attorney and citizenship program coordinator with World Relief Chicago. The training prepared students to volunteer at any monthly Citizenship Workshop and work with clients one-on-one to inform them of the benefits and requirements of becoming a citizen. Students were also trained to assist clients with completing their N-400 citizenship application. The training was truly a valuable experience for all. As Jessica Gutierrez (JD '16) said, “Attending this workshop broadened my perspective of the simple and practical ways a law student interested in pursuing immigration law can begin to help those who are undergoing the process of legalization.”
In light of students’ positive response to Citizenship Workshop training, PBCSI hopes to offer training again during the spring semester and is exploring additional ways students can volunteer in the area of immigration law.
Each year the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative partners each year with the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago and A.N. Pritzker Elementary School to run Lawyers in the Classroom.
The week-long program brings law student, alumni and faculty volunteers to Pritzker to teach 6th, 7th and 8th graders a one-hour lesson on the U.S. Constitution and other legal principles.
One of the day's lessons, “No Electronics Allowed,” helped the middle school students discern the difference between the “spirit of the law” and the “black letter law.” After that, students worked through several hypotheticals to apply what they learned. For every lesson, the middle school students get the chance to learn a basic constitutional law concept and an opportunity to apply the concept to different fact scenarios.
The volunteer experience is a very fulfilling one for both the middle school and law school students. As Deirdre McGrory (JD '16) put it, “It was so fun to see the intelligent and very creative ways students would respond to the hypotheticals. I don’t know who had more fun – me or the students!”
DePaul will return to Pritzker during the spring semester to teach additional lessons and build on some of the legal principles discussed in classrooms this fall.
On Thursday, October 2, the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) Committee and the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) hosted its eleventh annual LRAP Awards Reception in the College of Law Rinn Law Library Rare Book Room. This year, ten DePaul alumni were recognized for their outstanding contributions to public interest law. The recipients include:
- Hallie Bezner (’10) - McLean County Public Defender’s Office, Bloomington, IL
- Megan Blatt (’10) - Life Span, Chicago, IL
- Chastidy Burns (’12) - Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender, Chicago, IL
- Anita Gupta (’13) - National Immigrant Justice Center, Chicago, IL
- Courtney Kelledes (’13) – Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Chicago, IL
- Jarrett Knox (’08) - Office of the Cook County Public Guardian, Chicago, IL
- Jessica Schneider (’10) - Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc., Chicago, IL
- Ashley Shambley (’10) - Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender, Chicago, IL
- Robert Simmons (’06) - Winnebago County Public Defender’s Office, Rockford, IL
- Lindsay VanFleet (’10) - Vermillion County Public Defender’s Office, Danville, IL
Following CPIL executive director Shaye Loughlin and LRAP Committee chair Professor Patty Gerstenblith's presentation of the awards, recipients delivered inspiring remarks to students, faculty, staff, alumni, co-workers, community supporters and family. The LRAP celebrates the outstanding DePaul public interest law alumni in the Chicago community and across the country.
The Society for Asylum and Immigration Law (SAIL) hosted Benjamin Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Council
(AIC) on Monday, September 15.
Johnson presented an overview on the current crisis with
unaccompanied minors and women with children seeking refuge in the
United States and the response by the Obama administration. Although
various countries around the world have recognized and admitted to a
humanitarian crisis at their borders when dealing with an unprecedented
number of individuals seeking asylum, the United States has failed to
handle the currently staggering number of Central Americans seeking
asylum at the border.
Mr. Johnson discussed the lawsuits that AIC has filed again federal
agencies for their disregard of unaccompanied minors’ rights as
refugees, including a decision to use a higher standard in credible fear
interviews for women seeking asylum.
The Pro Bono and Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) teamed up with DePaul College of Law’s Child and Family Law Association
to host the first Donate-A-Day of the school year on Saturday,
September 27. The service day took place at A.N. Pritzker Elementary
School, a Chicago Public School in Wicker Park and one of PBCSI’s
Thirty three students joined together to assist with a variety of
projects at the school. The volunteers worked closely with teachers,
parents, and students who were all onsite to help get the school ready
for the service day. Pleasant weather allowed volunteers to help on
several outdoor projects. By the end of the day, the school’s outside
space had been cleaned and new flowers had been planted. Lines were
painted to create an outdoor basketball court and one volunteer even
painted a picture of the mascot at center court.
Inside the school, volunteers painted and helped teachers organize their classrooms.
Pritzker has hosted several Donate-A-Days for the College of Law, so
many and 2Ls and 3Ls were returning volunteers. They enjoyed recounting
some of the projects they completed at former Pritzker Donate-A-Days,
including painting a science lab and planting bulbs. Many volunteers
commented that it was nice to see familiar faces among the teachers and
students who were at the school that day.
PBCSI Coordinator Caitlin Duane helped to organize the day and explained that the volunteers had a very positive experience.
"PBCSI's Donate-A-Days are a great way to take a break from school
and spend a little time giving back," she said. "Every time I
participate I meet new people and it’s a great opportunity to network
with other students and members of the community."
At the end of the day, the principal at Pritzker personally thanked
the DePaul students for their efforts, to ensure that the volunteers
knew how much their hard work was appreciated. If you missed this
opportunity, the next Donate-A-Day is coming up on October 24th. Please
consider joining us!
Please contact Cheryl Price at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
On the heels of an exciting and thought-provoking 1L Service Day, the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative’s
Fall Service Fair drew record numbers of students interested in
learning more about pro bono and community service opportunities at the
College of Law.
The fair took place on September 11 in Room 241, which was filled to capacity.
“It was impressive to see so many students interested in our service
programs here at the College of Law," enthused PBCSI Director Cheryl
Price. "The incoming 1Ls seem ready to start volunteering and are very
enthusiastic about DePaul’s Vincentian mission and giving back to their
communities. They seem like a great class!”
All of PBCSI’s partners were represented at the fair. They include
Cabrini Green Legal Aid, the Center for Disability & Elder Law, the
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, Lawyers in the
Classroom, A.N. Pritzker Elementary School and Croak Student Legal
PBCSI also works closely with DePaul’s Domestic Violence Co
Project and Illinois Legal Aid Online and both programs were at the fair
and talked about what they do and how students can get involved.
Students learned about UMIN’s winter break Service Immersion Trips,
PBCSI’s Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project and Donate-A-Day service
projects, and DePaul’s Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic’s pro bono
Many of the above organizations and projects have upcoming trainings
for students to get involved immediately. PBCSI will host a similar fair
at the start of the spring semester and will feature pro bono
opportunities available for students over spring break.
In September, the Center for Public Interest Law and the DePaul chapter of National Lawyers Guild co-sponsored a lunch panel on police violence and misconduct in the wake of the mass protests in Ferguson, Missouri, after Michael Brown was fatally shot by police officer Darren Wilson.
Moderated by alumna Sarah Gelsomino from the Peoples Law Office, the panel emphasized the role of lawyers, law students and legal workers in supporting communities resisting police violence. The panel emphasized that civil litigation is but one avenue for attempting to hold police accountable and it is most effective when done in conjunction with grassroots community activism.
DePaul law student Max Suchan (JD '15) shared his experience after spending a week in Ferguson at the end of August as a legal observer with the National Lawyers Guild. Suchan described a "disproportionate and heavily militarized" police presence. He also described community organizing that took place on the south and west sides of Chicago in response to the deaths of DeSean Pittman and Roshad McIntosh, on August 2014.
As partner at the Peoples Law Office, Gelsomino has sued the Chicago police department for verbal and physical misconduct using § 1983. Gelsomino described this endeavor, underscoring that she believes there are “whole areas of the city where police disregard the Constitution,” and that those areas tend to be neighborhoods of color or low income communities.
Alumnus Elliot Slosar from Loevy and Loevy also shared his experiences bringing § 1983 lawsuits against the police. Slosar told the audience that police accountability work does not have to begin with a law degree, and he encouraged students to get involved now to learn from and support communities engaged in struggle against police violence.
The College of Law held its third annual 1L
Service Day on Friday, August 22. This year’s service day brought in
just under 70 volunteers, a record number of participants. The College
of Law’s Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) and University Ministry in the Loop organized the 1L Service Day, with support from the Center for Public Interest Law.
Interim Dean Bruce Ottley and PBCSI Director Cheryl Price welcomed
the 1L volunteers, many of whom congregated not just for the chance to
participate in works of service, but also to make new friends, meet
faculty members and explore Chicago.
College of Law Chaplain Tom Judge started by asking staff, faculty
and student site leaders to stand and discuss what motivates them to
give service. Answers ranged from "a sense of gratitude" to simply,
"it's the right thing to do." Shaye Loughlin, executive director of the
Center for Public Interest Law, defined service as a family value handed
down from the Greatest Generation.
Students then departed for one of six service sites: Pacific Garden
Mission, Cornerstone Community Outreach, Marillac House, Legal Prep
Charter Academy, Catholic Charities Bishop Conway Residence and Little
Brothers/ Friends of the Elderly.
At homeless shelters Pacific Garden Mission and Cornerstone
Community Outreach, students helped make beds, organize clothing
donations and serve meals. Marillac House, a site with countless social
services, gave students the opportunity to play with preschoolers and
clean out a closet in preparation for a move.
Student volunteers at Legal Prep Charter Academy got to work painting
classrooms and organizing the library. The students at Catholic
Charities Bishop Conway Residence visited with seniors. Lastly, the
students at Little Brothers/Friends of the Elderly worked in a food
pantry, prepared holiday ornaments, and decorated Thanksgiving food bags
for the seniors. It was a day of varied and valuable work.
the lunch break, service day site leaders readdressed the importance of
service and discussed its impact on all parties involved. The site
leaders were second- and third-year law students, as well as law staff
and faculty. Many 1L students said they found the day to be extremely
As Chelsea Geiger (JD ‘17) said, “The service day meant connecting
with other students and faculty, the community, and the opportunities
available to me as a DePaul student. I got to know a few of my
classmates on a more personal level than just at orientation. I learned
of an organization I had no prior knowledge of and who are doing great
things around Chicago. I also discovered what DePaul could provide for
me besides a legal education and how, combined, we could make a
Alyssa Bisanz (JD ‘17) added that the 1L Service Day “captured the
essence of community spirit. Between collaboration and compassion, we
were able to leave a positive footprint, as we upheld the DePaul brand,
and served alongside with and for the neighbors of our community. This
activity was the perfect way for me to start off my school year.”
Center for Public Interest Law committee alumnae Caroline Manley
(‘11), Jenny Ansay (‘10) and Aya Barnea (‘10) are making great strides
not only in their public interest law careers, but also in building the
Chicago public interest law community.
All three have dedicated their legal careers to increasing access to
justice: Caroline Manley is an attorney working on elder law issues at
the Center for Disability and Elder Law; Jenny Ansay is the regional
attorney for Justice for Our Neighbors, a nonprofit immigration
organization; and Aya Barnea is a staff attorney at the Illinois
Appellate Court for Cook County. As young attorneys, they also have
dedicated a great deal of time to organizing and attending events
sponsored by the public interest lawyers network First 10.
First 10 is a peer-led organization that supports attorneys in their
first 10 years of public interest practice as well as the communities in
which they serve. They provide this support through networking,
professional development and continuing legal education opportunities
that are tailored to public interest work. One such event held on
January 29 at DePaul focused on immigration law and policy, featuring
speakers Fred Tsao, policy director at the Illinois Coalition for
Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), and immigration practitioner
Michael Jarecki. First 10 members also regularly gather for community
building events, including volunteer projects, happy hour and potluck
events. A wide variety of practice areas are represented at each event.
As Manley explained, “Anyone who is interested in public interest work
Similarly, public service-oriented law students have a home base in
DePaul’s Center for Public Interest Law. From this home base they can
build skills, network, exchange resources, and cultivate friendships
with likeminded students and faculty. First 10 serves as an extension of
that community atmosphere, according to Manley. Jenny Ansay and Aya
Barnea both echoed the importance of being involved with other attorneys
who are starting out in their legal careers. Ansay credits this
community atmosphere as a key reason to get involved, and stay involved,
with First 10. “Sometimes doing the kind of work that I do is a little
overwhelming and intense,” says Ansay. “Knowing you have a support
system out there with other people who understand you and who do what
you do makes First 10 a valuable resource for young attorneys.”
Barnea encourages law students to join First 10 upon graduation.
“You’ll see how valuable it is to meet other people in your professional
peer group and how nice that peer group is to have,” she remarked. “The
city is big and it can feel hard to navigate. Having this resource is a
very nice feeling.”
An Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) public service announcement video
recently debuted on American Spanish language broadcast television
network Telemundo. The 31-second spot "Window Washing," aired on July 9 and continued for a two-week period.
The PSA is one of four recently developed and produced by students and faculty of DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media, in coordination with clinic students and under the direction of Clinical Instructor Sioban Albiol.
Three additional public service announcement
videos—one in English and two Spanish—encourage undocumented immigrants
who may qualify for DACA to find out more from reliable sources.
Introduced in August 2012, DACA provides eligibility for work
authorization and a valid social security number for certain
undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. While
the benefits of the program are “tremendous,” Albiol said, “the
announcement created significant issues and demand for services.”
Getting the message out
In coordination with clinic community partner Marcy Gonzalez of
Latinos Progresando (LP), Albiol identified a need for reliable
information on the specifics of DACA. Gonzalez, director of the
Immigration Legal Services Program at LP, told Albiol that she often
heard clients repeat inaccurate information gleaned from radio or TV.
Albiol approached College of Computing & Digital Media Visiting Associate Professor Jose Soto
about directing a series of public information commercials for DACA to
present clear and accurate information and establish the clinic as a
source for information. Soto and his TV production students pitched
ideas to Albiol and Gonzalez and developed scripts for the videos.
The project's DACA specialist, Michael Santomauro (JD ’13), now in
private practice at Santomauro Law, contributed script feedback and
maintained project momentum. Helen Albrecht, a senior majoring in
digital media, took on the role of producer of the videos.
"Taking on the challenge of producing the PSAs was an amazing
experience," said Albrecht. "I along with others in the crew have never
had the opportunity to work on a production of this scale. Being
Hispanic it was not only important for me to produce these PSAs as a
Digital Cinema student, but also to get the message of DACA across for
any immigrants who might be looking for more information.
"We struggled and we struggled and we finally got everything
organized and put it together," she said. "We have very fond memories."
An online resource
A link at the end of the videos refers viewers to the Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic resource website,
which Legal Clinic Clerk Lorena Hernandez and Paralegal Esmeralda
Villela developed with the College of Law's Office of Communications.
"It's our hope that our page becomes a reliable resource for the
public to access information on immigration," said Albiol. She hopes the
site will not only correct misunderstandings but also continue to
direct people to reliable sources. The clinic will measure impact
through website traffic and click-through-rates and invite clinic
partners to post information sessions and workshops on a public
"We hope to soon have the PSAs distributed to CANTV and a couple of other networks," said Hernandez.
Ultimately, the DACA PSA project coincided with the end of the DePaul
quarter and the announcement of DACA renewal. Albiol called it “an
opportune time to get the PSAs out to the public.”
The videos were possible thanks to the support of DePaul's Vincentian Endowment Fund.
Jonathan Moore (JD ’77) is more than just a
successful lawyer. His enthusiastic and dedicated litigation in
important civil rights cases is the definition of a social justice
advocate, and reminds us there is still much to be done to help people
access the justice system. As a law student, Moore advocated for his
fellow students while president of the Student Bar Association and for
the community while participating in the school’s newly established and
cutting-edge legal clinics. Those opportunities inspired Moore to
represent people whose voices might otherwise not be heard.
As a dedicated civil rights attorney and partner at Beldock Levine
& Hoffman LLP, Moore gained increasing recognition this past year
for his work and leadership in the landmark New York stop-and-frisk
case, Floyd, et al v. City of New York. Moore estimates the victory will
save nearly 600,000 people from undue harassment and embarrassment by
police this year.
The high-profile civil suit filed on behalf of the “Central Park
Five” will soon reach settlement. The case involves violent police
coercion of five minority youths which lead to false confessions to a
brutal crime in which exculpatory evidence was ignored. Moore also
recently settled MacNamara v. City of New York, a case filed after the
mass false arrests of about 1,800 protestors during the 2004 National
“We have a gift as lawyers to be the voice for the people,” stated
Moore, “and to confront those responsible for the violation of rights
under the Constitution.” He sees the law as a tool not only for social
change, but for psychological empowerment. “Our clients can’t just walk
up to a police officer and grill them about what they did or could have
done. Depositions are an opportunity for us to do that.” He continued,
“I invite clients [to depositions] because, for them, it feels like
someone is finally listening and asking the real questions.”
While clients’ interests come first, Moore recognizes that the
matters he litigates arise from social and political dialogue. He noted
the importance of community and grassroots organizing, and speaks about
change holistically. Representative of that approach, Moore’s cases tend
to focus on patterns and policies that discriminate, and target
systemic issues that disenfranchise large groups of people.
Moore reflected on the settlement of the three cases, emphasizing
that it is not always about the win. “Even if you don’t win, there’s a
cathartic effect for clients. That matters.” Going further, he
criticized viewing cases as being “good” or “bad,” and stressed that
“any case that vindicates the violation of civil rights is a good one.”
The impact of Moore’s work extends far beyond New York. On a national
and international level, he and others are helping to call attention and
much needed reform to how the police and authorities interact with
people, especially people of color. Moore suggests that anyone
interested in entering the civil rights field should “just do it. Go out
there and hang your shingle. There’s something to be said about
perseverance and sticking it out.”
He would know.
In a rapidly changing legal market, the role of mentors is all the more critical. With this need in mind, the Center for Public Interest Law
(CPIL) launched several new programs this year, in addition to
introducing new changes to the longstanding attorney-to-student Public
Interest Mentor Program.
CPIL started the school year by continuing the traditional
student-to-student mentoring program. Incoming first-year public
interest students are matched with second and third-year public interest
students who serve as a resource to learn more about law school and
DePaul’s extensive public interest programming. Mentors helped new
students prepare for classes, connect with other students, and even
shared an outline or two. Maggie Miller connected with many mentors
through CPIL and found the program to be particularly useful in making
the transition to law school.
“My favorite aspect of the CPIL mentorship program is the
collaborative peer-based guidance,” said Miller. “The legal world and
the world of legal education are very interesting new frontiers that
were very intimidating when I started law school. Forming friendships
with people who have been in my shoes and survived was probably the most
helpful thing I did this year.”
During February, CPIL connected students and alumni for a
professional mentorship program. Students had the opportunity to meet
alumni at the Annual Public Interest Mentorship Reception. This year’s
reception featured speed networking, students rotated in small groups
among several tables of attorneys. They were able to meet every attorney
at the event, learn a bit about their respective practice areas, and
spend the remainder of the reception continuing conversations on a
After the reception, groups of two to three attorneys were matched
with six to eight students for the yearlong meeting three times over the
course of the year with the mentorship program. The small groups commit
to goal of helping students learn more about the legal profession.
Assistant Appellate Defender Gil Lenz (JD ’05), who participated in the
mentorship program and reception, finds mentoring law students to be
“As a practicing attorney, I think the best way you can help students
who want to do public interest work is to meet with them face-to-face
and really get into the specifics of what these jobs entail,” Lenz said.
“I also believe that the program benefits my agency, the State
Appellate Defender. I know that we have had many excellent interns from
DePaul over the years, some of whom are now my colleagues. Helping
students who are interested in this work find the Appellate Defender is a
Margaret Kuzma (JD ’12) a Skadden Fellow with LAF who provides
general civil legal services to veterans and their families, also found
the mentorship program valuable. Kuzma stated, “I think CPIL students
give more to me than I can ever impart to them. Seeing their enthusiasm
for public interest law is tremendously motivating. Mentoring them is an
In addition to these programs, CPIL continued to host small group
lunches to connect students and attorneys in specific practice areas.
The practice areas this year included immigration, veterans’ legal
service and juvenile law. The lunches are limited to 20 students and
allow the students to have informal conversations with practitioners as
opposed to the traditional panel presentation. CPIL is committed to
strong mentorship programing to help public interest law students on
their path to becoming attorneys.
The Center for Public Interest Law
hosted three new skills series in 2013-2014, building on the success of
last year’s program. Each series gives students the opportunity to
learn about different areas of public interest law while gaining
practical and transferable legal skills. The topics selected for this
year’s series were based on the interest of past student participants.
The program started in September with the Public Benefits Skills
Series, taught by alumna and Adjunct Professor Mary Rita Luecke. This
series focused on applying for Social Security and gave students a
comprehensive understanding of the steps involved in securing SSI or
SSDI for a client. Students attending the series reported that it
offered a practical approach to introducing the topic and that they felt
better prepared for an internship in this area of law.
The second skills series, which began in February, focused on
immigration law, specifically U Visas. U Visas are temporary visas that
provide immigrant victims of certain crimes to legally remain in the
United States while they participate in the investigations and legal
proceedings against their perpetrators. The five-week series was taught
by Olivia Villegas (JD ’10), a staff attorney in the Immigration Project
at Life Span Center for Legal Services and Advocacy. She represents
clients in VAWA self-petitions, U Visa petitions, conditional residency
battered spouse waivers, adjustment defense, and, on a limited basis,
During the series, students learned the intricacies of the U Visa
process and gained a foundation to assist clients with securing these
visas. The final skills series focused on starting a public interest
practice. For four consecutive Mondays in April, students learned from a
variety of solo practitioners and gained an overview of the process of
starting a law practice. Noelle Brennan (JD ’95), who has been a solo
practitioner for the last two decades, taught the first session and gave
students insight into daily realities of running your own law firm.
Students also heard from practitioners who focused on commercial
litigation, which afforded them time and resources for a strong pro bono
practice. In addition, alumni participants in the Chicago Bar
Foundation’s Justice Entrepreneur Project and criminal defense attorney
Molly Armour presented in this series. The series demonstrates CPIL’s
ongoing commitment to offering skills training options for students.
After attending all three of the skills series, student Jimmy
Garfield remarked on their value as a supplement to traditional classes.
“Instead of just learning legal theory, you get to talk to
practitioners who are in the trenches every day,” he said. “They don’t
just tell you how law should be, but how it is.”
On March 6, 2014, DePaul College of Law awarded Judge William J. Bauer the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
However, to call Judge Bauer’s career distinguished is an
understatement. Judge Bauer has worked as a public servant in several
impressive capacities: assistant state’s attorney, state’s attorney for
DuPage County, Illinois, judge for the 18th Judicial Circuit in
Illinois, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of llinois, district
court judge for the Northern District of Illinois, and circuit judge of
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
In addition, he has taught countless courses
on trial advocacy and criminal procedure across the country. Along the
way, Judge Bauer served as a mentor to numerous law students and
lawyers. I am lucky to count him as a mentor, as I had the honor of
clerking for him during the 2005-2006 term. Judge Bauer helped shape my
As a young lawyer, I knew I wanted public interest law to play a
significant role in my practice. While at DePaul, I helped to establish
the program that eventually became the Center for Public Interest Law.
When I clerked for Judge Bauer, he applauded this work and encouraged me
as I pursued my passion for constitutional law and civil rights. Judge
Bauer instilled in me that the point and privilege of being a lawyer is
to deliver the maximum amount of justice to the maximum amount of
Judge Bauer’s own career mirrors this principle. In his first job
out of law school, he worked as an assistant state’s attorney in DuPage
County. Though he earned a meager salary, money was not what motivated
Judge Bauer. For six and a half years he worked in an understaffed and
overworked office, but he was in trial court every day. Judge Bauer says
there were times it felt like he was earning a nickel an hour,
especially as he supported his young family, but those years were
invaluable because the experience provided him with a “million-dollar
Equally important, however, were the lessons Judge Bauer taught me
about collegiality and our responsibility to the legal community. Judge
Bauer is fond of saying that it “doesn’t cost a dime to be kind.”
Lawyers either forget this value or feel it will impede their advocacy.
Judge Bauer taught me that being a good lawyer and being a good person
are not mutually exclusive.
He advises that, in life, as in law, it is vital to be kind, be
decent and do the right thing. As I advocate for my clients, I keep
these lessons in mind. I am eternally grateful for my own million-dollar
education provided by Judge Bauer both during my clerkship and in the
years that have followed.
Karyn Bass Ehler (JD ’05) clerked for Judge William J. Bauer from
2005-2006. She is a partner at Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym,
This spring, the theme for the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) annual symposium came from the work of students in Clinical Instructor Sarah Diaz’s new Immigration Advocacy Clinic.
CPIL student assistant and clinic participant Ana Valenzuela said the
idea for the immigration forum was generated by student discussions and
Professor Diaz’s work with community based organizations. The forum,
“Insecure Communities: Addressing Immigration Issues in Illinois,” began
with a group of clinical students, including Valenzuela, Geraldine
Arruela, Katerin Zurita and Cordia Perez (JD ’14), who provided a brief
overview of their clinical project before the panel discussion.
The group’s project focused on investigating and addressing the
discrepancies in policies between local law enforcement agencies in the
manner in which they choose to certify, or not certify, Form I-918B.
This form is required for all U Visa applicants to confirm that they
were helpful in the investigation or prosecution of their qualifying
There is no waiver of this form and without it the victim cannot
apply for the U Visa. Refusal by law enforcement agencies to issue this
certification undermines the dual purpose of the U Visa statute: to
serve as a form of humanitarian relief for undocumented victims of
crimes and as a law enforcement tool.
Symposium panelists included Fred Tsao, policy director at the
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Mark Fleming,
national litigation coordinator at the National Immigrant Justice
Center; Andrew Kang, legal director at Asian American Advancing
Justice-Chicago and Viviana Martinez, assistant special legal counsel to
Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle. The moderator was Mary Meg
McCarthy, executive director at the National Immigrant Justice Center
McCarthy started the discussion by providing an overview of the
Secure Communities program, which seeks to increase cooperation between
local and state authorities with the federal immigration authorities.
This voluntary program essentially allows for the sharing of information
between local and federal authorities. As a result, undocumented
immigrants are being placed into immigration detainers, which are
requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to local law
enforcement to detain persons for an additional 48 hours so that ICE can
pick them up for immigration violations.
The program is designed to identify aliens convicted of serious
criminal offenses, but the real outcome has been the separation of
thousands of families without regard for ICE’s stated priority of
deporting “criminal aliens,” which has resulted in a lack of trust in
law enforcement. Tsao discussed the statistical effects that the Secure
Communities program has had on immigrant communities. According to Tsao,
ICE has issued more than 8,000 detainers in Illinois alone. Sixty-nine
percent of these, however, are issued against individuals who have no
criminal convictions. As a result, the program that was meant to target
criminal offenders has also been used to target harmless individuals.
Fleming presented on the lawfulness—or rather, the unlawfulness—of
ICE detainers. He provided a summary of NIJC’s class action lawsuit,
which is sure to have a large impact on detainers and Secured
Communities. The lawsuit is a challenge to ICE’s presumed authority when
instructing law enforcement agencies to hold an individual in detention
during a check on the individual’s immigration status, when there is no
other reason to keep that individual in custody.
Fleming commented on how ICE’s detainers lack enforcement authority
and oversight. Fleming then spoke of the unconstitutionality of Secure
Communities and how the key arguments were addressed in the litigation.
Next, Kang discussed his work with the activists in California
responsible for the passage of the California Trust Act. The California
Trust Act is meant to limit the state’s cooperation with federal
immigration authorities regarding Secure Communities. This action aims
to put pressure on Congress, which has stalled on immigration reform.
Kang further stressed that because undocumented immigrants are often
afraid of contacting law enforcement for fear of consequences, the
Secure Communities program ironically creates an “insecure” community.
For example, an undocumented immigrant who is a victim of crime may
himself or herself be too afraid to report the crime for fear that the
police will contact ICE against him or her.
Finally, Viviana Martinez was asked to share her work under Cook
County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and County Board President Toni
Preckwinkle in the passage of the Cook County ordinance refusing to
comply with the Secure Communities program. As a result, Martinez said,
Cook County has become a sanctuary for immigrants. She explained how
Cook County’s refusal to take part in Secure Communities has led the way
for other jurisdictions to follow suit and build resistance against
Martinez concluded by reiterating the need for sound policy and
consistency within the immigration legal community to protect
immigrants, especially those without criminal backgrounds, from costly
detention. The panel not only identified the weaknesses in Secure
Communities, but served as a stepping stone for those wishing to learn
more about issues affecting immigrant communities.
Cindy Bedrosian (JD ’14) remarked, “With comprehensive immigration
reform pending, it was so helpful to learn more about issues in
immigrant rights that are specific to Illinois.”
According to Valenzuela, the panel put into perspective the fact that
“although 287(g) (Secure Communities) policies were heralded as
‘protecting’ American neighborhoods from criminals, what they have
really done is instill a fear of reprisal in undocumented individuals
who seek to report a crime” and the program “is not targeting those it
was meant to target. As a consequence, innocent and hardworking
individuals are torn away from their families under these misguided
During the panel discussion, Tsao ended his comments with a quote by
political activist Mario Savio: “There’s a time when the operation of
the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t
take part . . . And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to
the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be
prevented from working at all.”
A group of College of Law students chose an alternate spring break
experience this year by donating their time to the Pro Bono Staycation
from Monday, March 24 to Thursday, March 27.
The event gave six participating students four full days of hands-on
pro bono work at their respective volunteer sites, including the Chicago
Legal Clinic, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services and the Center for
Disability & Elder Law. Students worked on a range of projects and
subject areas, including preparing advanced directives for the elderly,
helping to track data relating to mortgage foreclosure clients,
conducting legal research on housing issues, observing in court, and
interviewing and assisting clients in need of help with immigration
First-year law student Caitlin Duane gained insight through her
experience. “My staycation experience at the Chicago Legal Clinic was a
great opportunity to network and start becoming familiar with public
interest agencies in Chicago," Duane said. "I was able to begin learning
about immigration law, which is incredibly complicated but also
fascinating. The attorneys that I worked with were both DePaul alums who
were excited to share their knowledge and passion for the law."
The Pro Bono Staycation is a joint project of the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) and the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative
(PBCSI). Both CPIL and PBCSI hope to expand this pro bono project to
get more students involved at a wider range of sites. Cheryl Price,
Director of PBCSI explains: “This is the second year that we have
offered the pro bono staycation to students and we hope to do so again
next year. It is a great experiential learning opportunity for students
who want to immerse themselves in a particular area of law while helping
For more information about DePaul’s Pro Bono Staycation, please contact Cheryl Price at email@example.com.
DePaul College of Law volunteers worked closely with high school
students from Legal Prep Charter Academy to teach litigation and
negotiation skills in a yearlong program developed by the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative.
Law students coached Legal Prep teams for a negotiations competition
among classmates and sent qualifiers to a final round event at law
firm Kirkland & Ellis. Two Legal Prep students advanced to the final
round, earning second place overall.
This is the second consectutive year DePaul has worked with the Legal
Prep Charter Academy, the first legal-themed charter high school in
Chicago. Located in West Garfield Park, it also serves the surrounding
Austin, Lawndale and Humboldt Park communities. Students are exposed to
the legal profession while developing skills in communication, critical
thinking and advocacy.
DePaul welcomed the opportunity to work directly with these students
and pique their interest in the law and legal profession. This year's
volunteer team, comprised of students as well as alumni, faculty and
staff, met with Legal Prep students monthly to teach a skills lesson and
to assist students in working through hypotheticals and practicing for
“Working with students from Legal Prep reminded me why I value
education," said second-year student Amanda Moncada, who participated as
a volunteer. "Education is a medium through which lives can be
transformed. And I saw many of these young scholars transform into
well-spoken, intellectually creative, critical thinkers. This
observation made my volunteering experience with Legal Prep one
certainly worth repeating.”
Second-year law student Alex Sparkhawk agreed.
“Volunteering for Legal Prep was a truly rewarding experience," he
said. "Working with these students and future lawyers really cannot be
expressed in words. I was part of a mock trial program in high school
which eventually led me to law school. I only hoped that I could spark a
light in these students similar to the fire inside me that eventually
guided me into the legal career path.”
For more information about DePaul’s Legal Prep Charter Academy
volunteer team, please contact Pro Bono & Community Service
Initiative Director Cheryl Price at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sister Helen Prejean, author of "Dead Man Walking" and "Death of Innocents," and Jeanne Bishop, Cook County Assistant Public Defender, shared their inspiring stories of becoming advocates against the death penalty at the "Journey to Forgiveness" luncheon event on April 23.
Prejean’s journey began after she met an inmate who was later executed. Hearing his story and witnessing his execution deepened her commitment to educating the public about capital punishment and pushing for its abolishment. During law school, Bishop was a committed opponent of the death penalty through her involvement with Amnesty International. After members of her family were murdered by a teenager in 1990, Bishop became an outspoken advocate for the power of forgiveness and rehabilitation as positive alternatives to capital punishment.
Following their stories, Assistant Dean Andrea Lyon, author of “Angel of Death Row: My Life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer,” led a discussion with the audience of students, faculty and staff. The conversation revolved around the need for the community to advocate for effective deterrence policies and programs, as well as reaffirmed the panelists’ commitment to seeking justice through means other than the death penalty.
The event was sponsored by the Center for Justice in Capital Cases, Center for Public Interest Law and University Ministry.
Students interested in juvenile law learned about careers in this area during a recent Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) event. Practitioners Betsy Clarke, of the Juvenile Justice Initiative, Peter Newman, of the Cook County Court, and Elizabeth Vastine, of Stone Vastine Group, discussed their work and the range of opportunities available in juvenile law.
Clarke (JD '77) is founder and president of the Juvenile Justice Initiative (JJI), which partners with John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Models for Change in Illinois. She explained how JJI works to address jurisdictional right-sizing and reform, reduce detention and incarceration of youth, eliminate racial disparities, develop community-based resources and enhance fairness.
Newman talked about his work as program administrator for the Juvenile Justice & Child Protection Resource Section of the Circuit Court of Cook County in Chicago. He assists and supports presiding Judge Sophia Hall in creating initiatives to bring the court into coordination with the community and to better serve children and families within the Juvenile Court's jurisdiction.
Vastine, principal at the Stone Vastine Group, develops curriculum, trains and consults in conflict resolution, mediation and restorative practices in a variety of settings including, group homes, academic institutions, law enforcement agencies and the juvenile justice system. She and Newman also teach Restorative Justice and Juvenile Justice courses at DePaul.
In addition to coursework, Clarke, Newman and Vastine all recommended that students volunteer on a regular basis and pursue internships to explore the area of juvenile law.
At its annual service awards reception on April 22, the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) recognized a record number of law students—more than 140—who reported at least 50 hours of legal or nonlegal volunteer work while at DePaul. In total, law students reported more than 20,000 hours of pro bono and community service in academic year 2013-2014, setting another record for the College of Law. PBCSI also presented 46 students with the Benjamin Hooks Distinguished Public Service Award, which recognizes graduating third- and fourth-year students who have reported 200 or more service hours.
In addition to law student awards, PBCSI presented the 2014 Pro Bono Alumni Award to Jean A. Adams (JD '80). Her law practice focuses on trusts and estates planning, guardianships and decedent estates. Adams began her pro bono career in 1982, shortly after gaining admission to the bar and has handled hundreds of pro bono cases since then, primarily with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS). CVLS awarded her its Distinguished Service Award in 1995 and 2002 for her “excellent work and commitment to serving Chicago’s poor.” Her pro bono work has focused on guardian ad litem work for disabled adults and minors in the Circuit Court of Cook County.
Peter Ashmore, managing attorney for CVLS and adult guardianship program director, nominated Adams for the award.
“Jean’s tenacious commitment to pro bono and community service work and her determination to make the organized bar a force for improving the legal profession and the community make her a superb choice for this award," he said. "Jean Adams, in sum, is an extraordinary attorney: generous, effective, and a fighter for equal access to justice.”
After recognizing the awardees, Price encouraged students to continue their volunteer work at DePaul and as they move on to practice law. “Our students and alumni know that pro bono and community service are integral to the College of Law and have put their beliefs in action as they have headed out into the community to assist the poor and disadvantaged," Price said. "In the words of St. Vincent de Paul, these students have worked ‘with a new love in service of the poor’ and we are very proud of them.”
Benjamin Hooks Distinguished Public Service Award
Caroline O’ Connell
Class of December 2014
Class of 2015
Andrea Zambrano Garzon
Class of 2016
Class of 2014
Class of 2015
Steve O’ Connor
Juan Manual Rodriguez
Class of 2016
Dean’s Certificate of Pro Bono Service Award
Class of 2014
Class of 2015
Class of 2016
Santiago Del Real
Dean’s Certificate of Service Award
Class of 2014
Class of 2015
Class of 2016
DePaul law students, staff and faculty worked with sixth-grade students from Chicago Public Schools' A.N. Pritzker Elementary School for the final 2013-2014 Donate-A-Day on April 4. Organized by the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) and student group Phi Alpha Delta, the service day offered Pritzker students a chance to learn about the law school environment, see a mock trial and study a cyberbulling case.
On arrival, 13 law student volunteers greeted the sixth-graders and offered a tour of the College of Law. The students met with Dean of Admissions & Student Administration Michael Burns and Professor Zoe Robinson to learn more about the law school environment and to hear their reasons for attending law school. The students also had the opportunity to participate as judges and jury members during a demonstration by the Phi Alpha Delta mock trial team.
The sixth-graders continued to learn about the court system by analyzing a cyberbullying case, Weber v. Chase, which is part of the Constitutional Rights Foundation’s Lawyers in the Classroom curriculum. During the lesson, law student volunteers facilitated discussion questions, helping students understand various legal terms and concepts being used in the case.
“Pritzker students are very enthusiastic about the law. They love to volunteer and demonstrate their knowledge," said law student volunteer Desalina Williams, who helped facilitate the cyberbullying lesson. "This is my second year working with the students and I am always impressed at how well they grasp the various fact patterns presented to them. This is a great group of students.”
PBCSI has worked with Pritzker Elementary on several service projects over that past few years, including school beautification and organization, supply drives for homeless students and law students volunteering as tutors.
Illinois Legal Aid Online recognized Shaye Loughlin (JD '06) and Cheryl Price for their initiative and creativity in co-founding DePaul's Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project (NLAP), a pro bono legal help desk for the homeless. Loughlin, executive director of the
Center for Public Interest Law, and Price, director of the
Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative, discuss the vision for the project in an interview for Illinois Legal Aid Online's "Faces of Justice" video series.Watch the video here
“At bottom, NLAP is an access to justice project and one that has inspired and touched the lives of many of our students" said Price. "Hopefully they’ll go on to become future public interest attorneys as well as pro bono attorneys.”
Since its launch in March 2012, NLAP has provided critical legal services to hundreds of homeless individuals in the South Loop.
Accessing legal services can be a daunting task, especially if you are low-income or homeless. Although there are 43,000 lawyers in Chicago, only 300 of them are full-time legal aid attorneys charged with meeting the needs of the 1.3 million low-income people that qualify for help.
Recognizing this access to justice gap, the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) and Center for Public Interest Law launched the Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project (NLAP), a pro bono legal help desk for the homeless, just over two years ago on March 17, 2012. Since then, NLAP has provided critical legal services to hundreds of homeless individuals in the South Loop. Staffed by a dedicated cadre of law student volunteers and a supervising attorney, NLAP takes place every other Saturday morning at a breakfast program in Printer’s Row. Run by the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, the breakfast program feeds 150 people every Saturday morning.
"A legal help desk for the homeless that actually meets the homeless where they congregate was, at least to me, a completely unheard of proposition."
NLAP's primary focus is sealing and expunging clients' criminal records, which pose a barrier to employment, public benefits and public housing—all are key to climbing out of poverty. NLAP also focuses on obtaining state identification cards, which are essential to everyday life in the city of Chicago. Additionally, NLAP provides brief advice in a wide range of other areas, including housing, public benefits, contracts, wage theft and family law matters. Many of NLAP’s clients live at the Pacific Garden Mission and are not working with social workers.
As such, NLAP has collaborated with the St. Vincent de Paul Center in Lincoln Park to provide referrals for case management assistance with housing, employment and substance abuse assistance among other things. Since its launch in March 2012, NLAP has held more than 50 sessions and assisted more than 250 clients. Damon Ritenhouse, NLAP’s supervising attorney and DePaul alumnus, reflected on his experience with NLAP over the past two years:
“It is difficult to believe how quickly the last two years at NLAP have gone by. In that time, we have been able to help a great many clients with their legal issues. As importantly, the volunteers at NLAP have been there to listen as people share their personal stories. Working with the dedicated law students and attorneys who staff the NLAP desk, as well as the people at DePaul who support the program behind the scenes, has been a great privilege, and certainly one of the highlights of my legal career.”
NLAP is rooted in DePaul's Vincentian mission of social justice and service and outreach to the poor. According to Cheryl Price, director of PBCSI and one of NLAP’s founders, “Many of NLAP’s clients don't know what resources are available to them or how to access them. Without NLAP, they would not have access to legal assistance, as a trip to a legal aid office or the courthouse is often difficult, if not impossible for many of the folks we serve. So, NLAP is an access to justice project that exposes our law students to pro bono work, hopefully instilling a lifelong commitment to pro bono.”
“NLAP volunteers are serving and training to become better lawyers at the same time. It is experiential learning at its best.”
In addition to serving the poor, NLAP provides an important skill-building opportunity for law students. Through NLAP, students get hands-on experience and are able to hone their listening and client interviewing skills. They also get an opportunity to become experts in a substantive area of law. Price said, “NLAP volunteers are serving and training to become better lawyers at the same time. It is experiential learning at its best.”
Third-year student Sam Keen has been heavily involved with NLAP since its inception and currently serves as the NLAP student coordinator. “I’ll never forget how excited I was when I was first asked to be the student site coordinator of the Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project. A legal helpdesk for the homeless that actually meets the homeless where they congregate was, at least to me, a completely unheard of proposition," said Keen.
"Two years later and we haven’t skipped a beat. We’ve helped hundreds of people get state identification, dozens file petitions to seal or expunge criminal records, and countless more with a myriad of other legal problems ranging from appealing a denial of social security to revocation of guardianship. Though our accomplishments may seem small to some, I know firsthand the positive impact NLAP has had on the community it serves.”
The Center for Public Interest Law hosted a panel discussion to highlight the work of advocates on the Cook County Human Trafficking Taskforce on March 19.
Panelists Catherine Longkumer of the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services, Angelica Lopez of the DePaul Legal Clinic, and Rachel Ostergaard of the Salvation Army's STOP-IT program defined human trafficking, discussed common stories of their clients, highlighted strategies to stop human trafficking, and explained the unique legal needs and remedies available to foreign-born and domestic survivors of trafficking. Remedies range from immigration benefits to foreign-born survivors who aid in the investigation of human trafficking to a civil cause of action for survivors against their trafficker under the Illinois Predator Accountability Act. Students were given insight into how advocates in Cook County are working together to respond to this human rights issue and how legal and social services are critical to help survivors of trafficking.
The event was co-sponsored by the International Law Society, the Society for Asylum and Immigration Law, and the Latino Law Student Association.
The Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL)invited alumnae Mary Meixner (JD ’08) and Margaret Kuzma (JD ’12) to discuss legal services for veterans at an informational lunch in March. CPIL regularly hosts lunchtime events to bring together students and practitioners to help students learn about different practice areas and career paths in a small group setting.
Meixner is an attorney with the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. She accepts case referrals directly from JAGs, and provides these clients with a wide range of legal services. Kuzma is a Skadden Fellow with LAF, formerly the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago. Kuzma provides general civil legal services to veterans and their families.
Meixner and Kuzma discussed the extra legal protections for veterans in many different areas of law, and how they use these protections when advocating for their clients. As an example, they highlighted the Military Lending Act. Military members were highly targeted by predatory lenders, and this act was passed to allow service members to void any contract if they were charged more than 36 percent interest. Meixner and Kuzma both emphasized that students can work in practically any area of law with veterans, because the needs of veterans are vast and diverse.
DePaul law students volunteered their time for the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative’s Donate-A-Day event at the Greater Chicago Food Depository on February 28. The event was co-sponsored by LLSA, SAIL and BLSA.
The Greater Chicago Food Depository is a nonprofit food distribution and training center that provides food to soup kitchens, shelters, pantries, mobile and children’s programs, as well as other programs serving low-income individuals and families.The Food Depository also supports the community through programs like Chicago’s Community Kitchens, which enrolls the unemployed in a free 12-week culinary course.
Eric Langston (JD '14) commented, "I was so glad to volunteer with the Greater Chicago Food Depository. The scale of the organization is very impressive, the staff is friendly and professional, and the impact of our work was clearly articulated. I would gladly volunteer with them again."
Law student volunteers packed boxes with 21,000 pounds of carrots to be distributed by the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
The students were impressed by the friendly and helpful staff at the Chicago Food Depository, as well as the size of the warehouse and its operations.
Third-year law student Zara Rashid also enjoyed her experience: "Going to the Chicago Food Depository was an extremely rewarding experience. It was nice to take a couple of hours out of the day to do something that helped others. Plus, it was interesting to see the process of packaging and distributing food to soup kitchens. It is definitely something I would love to do again."
DePaul College of Law honored five outstanding alumni at the 2014 Law Alumni Awards Dinner on Thursday, March 6, at the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower. The annual awards celebration, now in its 20th year, honors alumni who have given back to DePaul and to the community. Proceeds from the dinner benefit DePaul's Center for Public Interest Law.
This year's Law Alumni Awards honorees are:
The Honorable William J. Bauer (JD ’52, LLD ’93, LLD ’05), senior circuit judge, United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
Outstanding Service to the Profession
Margaret H. McCormick(’77), principal partner, Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan PC
Outstanding Service to DePaul University
Joseph G. Bisceglia (’73), partner, Jenner & Block
Virginia Martinez (’75), senior policy analyst, Illinois Latino Family Commission
Outstanding Young Alumnus
Dennis A. Kass (’06), teacher, Infinity Math, Science & Technology High School
The Honorable William J. Bauer is a senior circuit judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Judge Bauer has held the circuit position since January 1975, and achieved senior status in 1994. Prior to that, he served on the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, judge of the 18th Judicial Circuit of the State of Illinois, and state’s attorney of DuPage County, Illinois. Judge Bauer practiced law with the firm of Erlenborn and Bauer in Elmhurst, Ill., and was an adjunct professor at the DePaul University College of Law. He is a frequent lecturer on trial and appellate practice and co-author of a book on criminal procedure. Judge Bauer currently serves on the College of Law’s Dean’s Advisory Council and is a life trustee for DePaul University.
Margaret H. (“Peggy”) McCormick is a principal of Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, practicing exclusively in immigration and nationality law. She is the current president of the Chicago Chapter Federal Bar Association and past national president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (1997-98). From 1999 until 2003, she was the president of the American Immigration Law Foundation in Washington, D.C., where she established the Immigration Policy Center and was named an honorary fellow. She serves on the Center for Public Interest Advisory Board at the College of Law. She has been listed in Woodward/White’s Best Lawyers in America since it was first published, and the publication also named her the 2013 Chicago Immigration Lawyer of the Year.
Joseph G. Bisceglia is a partner at Jenner & Block and has extensive experience in a wide variety of complex civil and criminal litigation in both federal and state trial and appellate courts, including business and corporate litigation of virtually every type. He is also chair of the firm’s Real Estate and Construction Litigation Practice. He has taught, lectured and published extensively in the areas of federal and state civil practice and procedure, real estate and construction law, trial practice and alternative dispute resolution. A member of the College of Law’s Dean’s Advisory Council, Bisceglia has been influential in starting and soliciting funds for the Class of 1973 Endowed Scholarship Fund. He has been co-chair of DePaul’s Class of 1973 reunion event committee since graduation. In addition to his service as president of the Illinois State Bar Association (2007-08), he has served in numerous other capacities in the ISBA and other bar groups.
Virginia Martinez is a senior policy analyst for the Illinois Latino Family Commission. Martinez focuses on legislation, policy analysis, program development, research and advocacy to promote the social and economic well-being of Latino families and the equitable representation of Latinos in decision making, employment, contracting and resource allocation across the state. Martinez has spent most of her career working in nonprofit organizations and has been a strong advocate for Latinos, women and children. In 1980, she helped establish the Chicago Office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and served as the first Midwest regional counsel. She currently serves on the Center for Public Interest Law Advisory Board, Cook County Justice Advisory Council and Gads Hill Center in Pilsen. Martinez was a founding mother of the DePaul University Latino Law Student Association, the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition (now EverThrive Illinois) and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Dennis A. Kass is a teacher and social studies department chair at Infinity Math, Science & Technology High School in Chicago. In addition to teaching, Kass is the founder and director of the Chicago Law and Education Foundation, a nonprofit legal services agency providing free legal services and programs in 15 Chicago public high schools. Through the Chicago Law and Education Foundation, Kass runs the Juvenile Criminal Record Expungement Division to provide second-chance opportunities to graduating seniors with qualifying criminal records. Kass’ work in legal aid has been featured in the New York Times, the National Center for Poverty Law Journal, the ABA Journal and on National Public Radio. In 2013, he was selected to DePaul University’s 14 Under 40, which recognizes distinguished alumni younger than 40.
Alumni, students and College of Law Dean Mark visited Chicago Public School's Pritzker Elementary on January 29 to teach law-related lessons to sixth and seventh grade classrooms.
The event was organized by the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) and Chicago Constitutional Rights Foundation’s Lawyers in the Classroom program. Lawyers in the Classroom partners attorneys with elementary and middle school classrooms to help students understand the U.S. Constitution and our legal system.
Drawing fom lessons outlined by Lawyers in the Classroom, Dean Gregory Mark, alumnus Aaron Dozeman (JD '12) and student Christina Kuklinski (JD '15) led the seventh graders through a discussion on jury selection. The students examined the process by which a jury is selected and discussed the importance of selecting a fair and impartial jury. They were able to debate whether a list of hypothetical jurors would be likely to judge a trial impartially.
“I enjoyed engaging the students in discussion, and I appreciated their honest and creative responses to the difficult issues raised in the lesson," said Dozeman. "Lawyers in the Classroom allowed me to contribute in a way that doesn’t involve giving legal advice; volunteering as a lawyer doesn’t always require providing legal services. It was refreshing to step outside of the courtroom and into the classroom.”
Students were also asked to mediate a conflict between two “goods”—the right to practice religion and the right to be safe at school. The lesson involved a student who wanted to wear small knife or “kirpan” in observance of his religion, which was Sikhisim. The school, however, had a “no weapons allowed” policy. The students were asked to consider whether he should be allowed to wear the kirpan to school and thought about the issue from various perspectives; including the school principal, the parents of the student and his classmates' parents.
“The students enjoyed this fact pattern and engaged in a lively and thoughtful discussion," observed Cheryl Price, PBCSI director. "I was impressed with their ability to weigh this problem from differing viewpoints.”
For more information about the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative or how to get involved with DePaul’s Lawyers in the Classroom volunteer team, contact Cheryl Price at email@example.com.
On Feb. 5, more than 40 DePaul University College of Law students took advantage of a unique opportunity to network with Chicago-area public interest attorneys at the Center for Public Interest Law's speed networking event. The event was designed to ease the nerves that many students feel when networking by arranging short, informal conversations with many attorneys.
Students were able to speed network with more than 20 attorneys. After introducing themselves, they learned a little bit about the attorneys' jobs and backgrounds. Following the meetings, students from all three classes mingled with attorneys from local legal aid agency staff attorneys and executive directors and government agencies. Several attorneys who attended the event (and some who were unable to make it) volunteered to mentor groups of College of Law students regularly over the course of this year.
In recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative, University Ministry in the Loop and the Black Law Student Association teamed up to sponsor a Donate-A-Day at Our Lady of Charity elementary school in Cicero, Ill. on Jan. 25. Twenty-two dedicated volunteers gathered at the DePaul Center for a light breakfast before boarding the bus to head over to the school. Law and international business students participated in the service day and worked together to revitalize the elementary school.
Our Lady of Charity is a large three-story building with one maintenance person to manage repairs and upkeep and to handle the cleaning duties. As a result, teachers clean their own classrooms and the school’s classrooms and hallways rarely get a fresh coat of paint. DePaul volunteers helped address these issues and divided to scrub and brighten classrooms and paint trim.
Thanks to the volunteers’ work, Our Lady of Charity’s teachers and students returned on Monday to find clean classrooms and newly painted trim. The volunteers also updated the library by inserting barcodes into books and logging the books into the computer system.
For the lunch break, a parent from the school prepared and delivered a hot, home-cooked meal for the volunteers. School Principal Katie Olson then explained the demographics and mission of the school, allowing volunteers to better understand why their service to the community was so valuable.
Desalina Williams, third-year law student and PBCSI student coordinator, described her experience: “Our Lady of Charity is a great school with a great faculty and parents. When we arrived, we saw teachers and parents dedicating their Saturday to educate the children. Their dedication motivated me to continue volunteering. I hope we continue volunteering at this site because it is so uplifting to see the community support for this school.”
This was the second year that DePaul has volunteered at Our Lady of Charity School.
For more information about the College of Law’s Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative or how to get involved with its Donate-A-Day service projects, contact Cheryl Price at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) held the first session of the five-part immigration skills series on Jan. 27. The series is taught by
Olivia Villegas (JD '10), immigration attorney at Life Span’s Center for Legal Services. Villegas provides civil legal services to victims of domestic violence who do not have legal status in the United States. The series is designed to give students an overview of the U-Visa process and to learn from Villegas’ expertise in assisting immigrant women who have been victims of abuse or crimes in obtaining orders of protection and in self-petitioning to remain in the United States.
Villegas’ first session focused on an overview of the legal framework and the process of obtaining a U-Visa, including the legal basis for U-Visas, along with the evidentiary standard and the burden of proof. Later sessions will build on this knowledge to give students skills in: obtaining the U-Visa certification from the appropriate law enforcement agency; gathering the documents necessary to prove each of the requirements; drafting a sufficiently detailed but succinct statement from the applicant; identifying inadmissibility issues and properly preparing a waiver; and drafting a cover letter and responding to potential Requests for Evidence.
The skills series takes place on five consecutive Mondays (through February 24). Students who attend all sessions receive a certificate of completion. The Center for Public Interest Law offers three public interest legal skills series during the academic year.
Sarah Baum has joined DePaul as the new director of Croak Student Legal Services. It is a homecoming of sorts, as Baum graduated from the College of Law in 2008.
Prior to joining CSLS, Baum worked in Chicago at LAF (Legal Assistance Foundation), which provides free civil legal services to low-income individuals and other vulnerable groups. Through her experience there, Baum brings a substantive knowledge in a wide variety of legal issues to CSLS.
Since it was founded in 2006, CSLS has served more than 2,250 DePaul students by advising them of their legal rights and responsibilities. “The mission of CSLS is to help students resolve their legal problems with as little disruption as possible to their educational endeavors,” Baum said.
The office focuses on preventative law with the goal of enabling students to make educated choices. Other services include advice on tenant-landlord issues, leases, misdemeanor criminal offenses and referral services. CSLS cannot offer advice or help on any issues that would be adverse to the university.
“One of my top priorities as CSLS director is raising students’ awareness of this valuable resource,” she said. “We are increasing our marketing and outreach efforts by building a social media presence and by presenting directly to student groups about the services we offer.”
Baum plans to continue working with various DePaul offices and student services to integrate CSLS into the continuum of care offered to DePaul students. She hopes faculty and staff will encourage students experiencing legal difficulties to contact CSLS.
In addition to providing direct legal services to individual students, CSLS is also available to give presentations on topics that commonly concern students, such as landlord-tenant law, drug and alcohol laws, and police encounters.
This article originally appeared in DePaul's Newsline publication.
When students organized a service mission to aid Hurricane Katrina victims in 2006, they launched the first of many DePaul Law/UMIN’s service immersion trips. Nearly a decade later, the tradition endures under Chaplain Tom Judge's leadership. This year's immersion trips ran to New Orleans and Washington, D.C., from January 4-11.
"The nature of these trips is to try to bring us closer together," Judge told the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin in a recent feature on the program. "You throw 10 or 12 law students together in vans as they drive for hours and hours across the country and they stay in homeless shelters and then they go out and meet people and serve people and listen to people for a week. That really brings them closer, we hope."
Read more in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article, "Immersionaries: DePaul law students lead service trips."
Rose Rivera (JD ’09) built the Center for Legal Justice from a model she’d been quietly hatching for years.
Rivera entered law school intending to eventually join a well-established nonprofit in Chicago, such as LAF (formerly the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago), and settle into the city.
When that didn’t pan out, she turned to a world of possibilities. She took the opportunity to move to Indiana and pursue her LL.M. in International Human Rights at Notre Dame. Rivera also tested the waters abroad, completing an internship at the International Criminal Court in Holland, but concluded that she wanted to work in the United States.
Deciding to stay in the area, at least temporarily, Rivera applied for a job as an immigration attorney at the Just Help: Elkhart County Legal Advocacy Center in Goshen, Indiana. She was hired in August 2010 and eventually promoted to executive director and lead attorney, inheriting 200 cases relating to family law. She spent three years with the organization at its Goshen location, during which she says she got a crash course in family law. When the center uprooted to Elkhart, Indiana, it served as the first legal immigration service in the South Bend area, aside from Catholic Charities. In Elkhart, a factory town with a large immigrant demographic, Rivera recognized a serious need for local immigration attorneys.
She revisited an old idea she had quietly considered while in college: opening up her own business. She began actively researching information, consulting friends and mentors on the topic until, in February 2013, the center unexpectedly announced its closure. Rivera took it as a sign to branch out on her own. “I was already thinking about the 200 clients they were going to drop,” she said. She met with other attorneys in the area who also agreed there was a need for nonprofit legal services in addition to what already existed.
“It just sort of came together,” Rivera said. She revised the bylaws and nonprofit application she’d developed while at Notre Dame and began scouting spaces to rent for her immigration-focused bilingual organization called Center for Legal Justice. Rivera received nonprofit status in March. “For the most part, the position felt like stepping into old boots,” Rivera said. The center focuses on family and immigration law, such as family-based applications for legal permanent residence, naturalization and citizenship, and works by providing services on a reduced fee scale. While some things changed, such as her professional liability insurance and bank, others remained.
The center’s board includes former Just Help staffers like paralegal Cynthia Murphy-Wardlow and Rivera’s former colleague Lindsay Davenport. Rivera said she still calls upon the mentors and friends who helped her through the process, such as Center for Public Interest Law Faculty Director Len Cavise, former Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic staff attorney Linus Chan, Allegra Cira Fischer (’09), Susan DeCostanza (’08) and Jenny Grobelski (’10). “I couldn’t handle half the cases I do without their input.” Aside from her entrepreneurial spirit, another thing that sets Rivera apart from her peers is her decision to work in a small, rural area.
“A lot of things about Elkhart are special,” said Rivera of the diverse town with a population around 50,000. “It’s a neat little place where everyone knows each other.” Taking her urban education to a smaller town gave her an edge that she recommends to other young graduates.
“It’s a great experience for a young attorney who wants to get their feet wet,” Rivera said. “You become very recognizable very quickly. Relationships mean a lot here, with colleagues, and with referrals from judges. On the one hand you have to work to solidify those relationships, but now I go into a local courthouse and everyone knows who I am and what the Center for Legal Justice is. In Chicago relationships can only take you so far.”
Rivera said her biggest challenge is balancing the need to give every client the attention they deserve, while earning enough income to keep the center running. “Once in a great while, clients run out of money, and we’ll take them on pro bono,” she said. “To be frank, I wasn’t sure that it would work out when we started. [However], the need is there, and people have enough income to pay something for the services and invest in some way financially.”
“We make it with a little more and more to spare,” she said. “It’s very rewarding.”
Article from the fall 2013 issue of Dialogue magazine.
The Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative, joined by the Center for Public Interest Law, the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center, the Asian Pacific-American Law Student Association, and the Public Interest Law Association, closed out Pro Bono Week in November with a lunchtime panel discussion on the benefits of pro bono work. Panelists included representatives from the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS), LAF and the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) –- all organizations that assist low-income clients in the Chicago area.
The panelists presented unique perspectives on pro bono work and discussed how each of their organizations provides services in a slightly different manner. Phil Mohr (JD '91), deputy director of CVLS, began the discussion with insight into the various ways legal aid organizations are organized. CVLS, for example, largely relies on volunteer attorneys to represent clients, as they only have seven or so staff attorneys in the office. Mara Block, the pro bono project staff attorney from LAF, explained that LAF is a large office that serves its clients mostly through staff attorneys. Samira Nazem, staff attorney and pro bono coordinator at LCBH, explained that LCBH focuses solely on housing and engages in broader advocacy and lobbying than other legal aid organizations because they do not rely on traditional legal aid grants for funding.
In addition to explaining the ins and outs of a legal aid organization, the panel speakers emphasized the need for pro bono attorneys and law students to sustain their legal aid efforts. Grace Newgard, staff attorney and director of the pro bono program at the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services, relayed a few shocking statistics about Chicago and the increasing access to justice problem. Despite the dedication of these legal aid attorneys and their organizations, the number of low-income Chicago residents in need of affordable legal services far outweighs the availability of said services. The panel was unanimous in saying that volunteers, both attorneys and law students, were an integral part of bridging this gap and aiding in increased access to justice for all individuals.
Each of the organizations represented at the panel encouraged law students of all class levels to volunteer, apply for internships, and/or coordinate externships and talked about how pro bono can help law students hone their legal skills while helping others in need.
Cheryl Zalenski, director of the American Bar Association Center for Pro Bono, and Kelly Tautges, director of Pro Bono & Court Advocacy at the Chicago Bar Foundation, discussed federal and state efforts to increase Access to Justice initiatives with law students at DePaul University College of Law in late October.
Over one million residents in Illinois live under the poverty level and cannot pay for legal assistance, but there are only approximately 300 attorneys who provide legal aid pro bono service in Illinois. The Access to Justice movement strives to connect all interested parties in coordinated efforts to bring legal aid to those communities in need of legal representation.
Zalenski described the national Access to Justice efforts, such as encouraging legal communities to form Access to Justice Commissions and undertake certain model rule amendments. There are approximately 30 Access to Justice Commissions across the nation. The priorities vary at each commission. Examples of projects include standardizing legal forms across counties and affecting policy changes to allow retired attorneys to volunteer their free time doing pro bono work.
According to Tautges, the Access to Justice Commission in Illinois, established last year, has formed nine separate committees to increase and facilitate access to justice efforts in the state. Some of their efforts include working with the Illinois Supreme Court to allow law students to obtain their 711 license after earning half, rather than two-thirds, of their law school credits, effectively allowing students to start serving clients in need sooner. The Illinois Commission recently sponsored a conference to highlight growth in court based pro bono programs.
The panel discussion was hosted by the Pro Bono Community Service Initiative and the Center for Public Interest Law, and co-sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild, Outlaws, and the Journal for Women and Gender Law.
In mid-November, DePaul law students and the Pro Bono Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) joined nearly 1,000 other regional volunteers to serve approximately 600 of Chicago’s homeless at the St. Vincent de Paul Center’s Homeless Outreach Luncheon in Lincoln Park. The service day was one of PBCSI’s monthly Donate-A-Day community service projects for law students. College of Law Chaplain Tom Judge and other DePaul Loop Campus students also participated.
Volunteers were busy with a range of duties, some working worked at various stations to distribute items such as winter clothing, shoes and backpacks to the guests. Some of the stations also provided free dental, legal, podiatry and manicure services. Other volunteers accompanied the guests to each station, held their chosen items, and ate Thanksgiving lunch with them.
Desalina Williams, one of PBCSI’s student coordinators and a volunteer at the Homeless Outreach Luncheon, shared her thoughts about the volunteer day:
"The luncheon was a very unique experience that I greatly enjoyed. I accompanied a veteran who waited outside, in line, for two hours before entering the center. When I met him, he immediately talked about retrieving a coat and a backpack. Before reaching these stations, we collected toiletries, eye glasses, scarves, gloves, hats, sleeping bags and blankets at other stations. As each item dropped into the bag, he became happier and happier. However, once we got to the coat his eyes just lit up. Unfortunately, the center ran out of backpacks before we reached the backpack station. Instead of expressing disappointment or anger, he told me that ‘the day was a successful day.’ He was so happy about the coat and the other items that leaving without a backpack did not ruin his mood (even though he'd come for a backpack). He insisted that he received more than he ever thought he would receive. After receiving more compliments on his coat, he left the center with a smile.
As I finished the day, the main thought that ran through my mind was his smile when he wore his coat for the first time. Thinking about that moment made me smile to myself because he was right: the day was a successful day."
For more information about PBCSI or its monthly Donate-A-Day service projects, please contact PBCSI Director, Cheryl Price at email@example.com.
The Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) started Pro Bono Week with a bang, offering students and alumni an opportunity to help low-income seniors at a Senior Center Initiative Workshop with the Center for Disability & Elder Law, one of PBCSI’s community partners. The workshop took place on Friday, October 18, 2013, at the Jacob Blake Apartments in Evanston, Ill. Students and alumni assisted seniors with advanced directives, such as powers of attorney and living wills.
Cheryl Price, director of PBCSI, says the workshop was a success: “We helped numerous seniors with an incredibly important legal service and also gave our students and young alumni an opportunity to work with two to three clients, which is fantastic for building practical legal skills. I think this workshop embodies the spirit and intent of Pro Bono Week. We are excited that we have been able to offer it to the DePaul community for several years now.”
Student and alumni volunteers also found the workshop meaningful and beneficial. Law student Sarah Hunter explained: "The volunteer day with CDEL was an invaluable learning opportunity. I came away with a broader understanding of an area of law that I had not yet been able to explore as a student. Seeing the immediate impact of providing simple but essential legal assistance to vulnerable individuals was a rewarding way to strengthen and diversify skills that I hope to translate into my legal practice."
Alumnus Jake Kanyusik (JD '13) also enjoyed learning a new area of law while helping others: “Volunteering at the Donate-A-Day with the Center for Disability & Elder Law was an excellent experience. Prior to this Donate-A-Day I had no experience with powers of attorney or any sort of advanced directives. By the end of the day I felt confident in this new area of law. I was able to get practical relevant to the current legal market while at the same time helping people who are in need of services.”
In light of the positive feedback about the pro bono day, Price is considering offering a similar workshop in spring 2014 and recruiting students to participate in a Wills for Heroes workshop, which provides legal assistance with advanced directives to first responders, such as firefighters and police officers.
The Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) committee and the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) hosted its 10th annual LRAP awards reception in DePaul University College of Law’s Rare Book Room on Thursday, October 17, 2013. This year, 10 DePaul alumni were recognized for their outstanding contributions to public interest law, the recipients include:
- Rocio Alcantar (’10), National Immigrant Justice Center, Chicago, IL
- Megan Blatt (’10), LifeSpan Center for Legal Services, Chicago, IL
- Ana Dominguez (’12), The Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Program, Chicago, ILv
- Marissa LaVette (’10), Legal Advocacy Center of the Jewish Federation, Chicago, IL
- Maria Macias (’11), Justice for Our Neighbors DFW, Grapevine, TX
- Nickole Miller (’12), Immigrant Center for Women and Children, Los Angeles, CA
- Yesenia Sandoval (’11), World Relief Chicago, Chicago, IL
- Robert Simmons (’06), Winnebago County Public Defender’s Office, Rockford, IL
- Olivia Villegas (’10), LifeSpan Center for Legal Services, Chicago, IL
- Brandon Williams (’01), Chicago Legal Clinic, Chicago, IL
Following Professor Len Cavise’s presentation of the awards, the recipients delivered inspiring remarks to a room packed with students, faculty, staff, alumni, co-workers, community supporters and family. The event was a celebration of the outstanding DePaul public interest law alumni in the Chicago community and across the country.
The Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) recently concluded its annual school supply drive for homeless and low-income students at A.N. Pritzker Elementary School, a Chicago Public School located in Wicker Park. PBCSI Director Cheryl Price delivered the supplies to the school where they were warmly received by Pritzker staff, including Assistant Principal Mrs. Barbara Abdullah-Smith, School Counselor Amanda Szaraz, and 6-8th grade teacher Jerry Weissbuch. Although Pritzker is located in Wicker Park its students live in a variety of neighborhoods across the city. According to Ms. Szaraz, approximately 50% of Pritzker students are considered low-income, and approximately 30 of them are considered homeless. As such, the school supplies are sorely needed to ensure that these students have the supplies they need to learn and thrive in the school setting.
PBCSI was pleased with this year’s donations. According to PBCSI Director Cheryl Price: “I was so impressed with the DePaul community’s generosity and thoughtfulness, especially staff members, who contributed the lion’s share of school supplies and money for this drive.” Price was also thankful for the generous donation of pens and flash drives from Lexis/Nexis. Price explained: “All of these supplies go directly to the students to help them succeed at school. We are happy to contribute to this worthy cause and feel strongly that it is an important part of our Vincentian mission. We look forward to running the school supply drive again next fall.”
Third-year law student Sam Keen was selected as a finalist for the PSJD Pro Bono Publico Award, which honors one law student nationwide for his or her pro bono contributions to society. The award aims to recognize the significant contributions that law students make to underserved populations, the public interest community and legal education by performing pro bono work. Keen was nominated for the award because of his continued dedication to the Chicago community, both through his volunteer work with DePaul’s Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project (NLAP) and his public interest internships he has completed during law school.
Keen’s dedication to NLAP has gone above and beyond a typical student volunteer commitment. The first of its kind at DePaul, NLAP is a law student pro bono help desk for the homeless. NLAP takes place twice a month on Saturday mornings at a breakfast program for the homeless run by a local church. NLAP assists guests with sealing and expunging their criminal records and obtaining state IDs. NLAP also provides clients with brief advice about housing and family law, as well as public benefits and available social service resources. NLAP is staffed with a supervising attorney and four to six law student volunteers per session.
As NLAP’s volunteer coordinator, Keen recruits and schedules students to staff the program. In addition to coordinating volunteers for NLAP, he is also the intake coordinator. In this role, he conducts the initial interview with clients to assess their reasons for seeking NLAP's assistance. He answers their questions, helps them to feel comfortable, and explains NLAP's procedures and policies, before discussing the options available to them. As a NLAP volunteer, he works directly with clients to help them resolve whatever problem they present.
In addition to his pro bono work, Keen has completed internships that have allowed him to have a direct, positive impact on Chicago’s most vulnerable populations. One of his internships was with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, where he advocated for homeless youth in the Chicago Public Schools. After completing the internship requirements, he continued to work at the Coalition, logging 40 hours of pro bono work. Keen also spent last summer as an intern at the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) where he represented low-income clients facing homelessness in eviction court. Again, Sam continued to work at LCBH even after his internship was over, completing more than 50 hours of pro bono work. He has also volunteered with the Lawyers in the Classroom program and has served as a legal observer for the National Lawyers Guild.
“I went to law school because l knew that a JD would allow me to make a career out of being a force for positive change in my community,” said Keen. While he has yet to embark on a law career, Keen has already made a positive impact on many people in Chicago as a law student.
DePaul’s Pro Bono Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) hosted its first Donate-A-Day service project for the 2013-2014 academic year at A.N. Pritzker Elementary School, a pre-K through 8th grade Chicago Public School in Wicker Park, in September. Throughout the day, law student volunteers worked hard to beautify the school by painting hallways and the cafeteria, planting bulbs and flowers, and cleaning and organizing classrooms.
DePaul’s Student Bar Association and Phi Alpha Delta co-sponsored the event. Many of the volunteers developed an appreciation for gardening; other volunteers impressed the school administrators with their painting abilities. During the lunch break, the volunteers had an opportunity to meet several Pritzker parents and students, who personally thanked them for their hard work on behalf of the school. The parents talked with the students about Pritzker and distributed cookies. "Meeting a few of Pritzker's parents and students was a nice surprise. They were very happy to have us at their school and we were happy to be there," explained Desalina Williams, PBCSI’s Donate-A-Day student coordinator.
PBCSI is very involved with Pritzker Elementary School. For several years, PBCSI has devoted one of its Donate-A-Day service projects to the school. In addition, each spring PBCSI hosts Pritzker’s 6th graders for a field trip, where the students observe a mock trial and participate in mock law classes taught by DePaul professors. The annual field trip is an opportunity to introduce Pritzker students to the legal profession and attending law school. PBCSI also coordinates a school supply drive for Pritzker’s homeless students and sends law students to the school on a weekly basis to tutor students. Many of the law students participate in more than one volunteer activity, allowing them to connect with the Wicker Park community through their service. Ultimately, the community service work benefits law students and the elementary school students in unique and meaningful ways.
On Wednesday, October 9, 2013, the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL), the Public Interest Law Association (PILA) and Law Career Services (LCS) hosted a lunchtime information session on how to find a summer public interest law job and secure funding. During the presentation, Elizabeth Boe, assistant director of recruiting, LCS, Shaye Loughlin, CPIL director and Robin Wagner, a third year student and PILA president offered advice to students seeking summer internships with public interest organizations.
All of the presenters advised students to begin the internship search early, as public interest internships are competitive. To help students find positions, Elizabeth Boe introduced students to the primary job posting sites: Vincent, PSJD, PILI, and the Government Honors/Internship Handbook. Upper-level students also gave their perspectives on ways to maximize the summer externship experience, including Robin Wagner’s tip of diversifying internships in order to build skills. Hannah Scruton, a 2L, discussed her internship at the Office of the Public Guardian, which she got in part through her CPIL mentor. The information session also gave first-year law students an overview of the possible funding sources available to public interest interns, and gave them a timeline for beginning to apply for summer positions.
The presentation was videotaped and can be accessed via iTunes U; look for Law Career Services under “On Campus.”
DePaul law students are known for their commitment to service and public interest work so it was no surprise that the Fall Student Service Fair drew a large crowd of students who were excited and ready to start volunteering. The fair, held September 10 and organized by the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI), is one example of the many ways PBCSI works to engage law students in service work.
The fair started with presentations from PBCSI’s six partner organizations, which include Cabrini Green Legal Aid, the Center for Disability & Elder Law, Croak Student Legal Services, the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, and A.N. Pritzker Elementary School. Students also learned about volunteer opportunities with Illinois Legal Aid Online, DePaul’s Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic and the Cook County Domestic Violence Courthouse Project, which is a project of DePaul’s Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center. University Ministry informed students about their winter break Service Immersion Trips to New Orleans and Washington D.C.
PBCSI Director Cheryl Price was pleased with the turnout and student interest. “Several students approached me to say how excited and impressed they were with the wide-range of service opportunities presented at the fair. It was so heartening to see so many students ready to volunteer. Our partners seemed happy too, as they were able to speak with a large number of students and recruit new volunteers.”
PBCSI will hold another service fair at the beginning of the spring semester in hopes of attracting even more students to volunteerism. Like the fall fair, the spring fair will feature PBCSI’s six partners but will also focus on opportunities that are available during spring break, such as PBCSI’s Pro Bono Staycation and the Family Law Center’s Juvenile Detention Center Spring Break Project.
A 2010 article in DePaul’s Journal for Social Justice was recently cited in a Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed with the Supreme Court. The article, “Locked Up: Criminal and Immigration Incarceration in America” was written by Raha Jorjani, a supervising attorney and lecturer in the UC Davis School of Law Immigration Law Clinic. Professor Jorjani was the keynote speaker for the Vincentian Public Interest Law Symposium “Out of the Shadows: The Crisis in Immigrant and Criminal Detention in America” in March 2010. Her legal practice and scholarship focus on immigrants detained primarily on the basis of criminal convictions.
The petition citing the article was filed by the petitioner in Dormescar v. Holder, an 11th Circuit immigration case. The issue on appeal in this case is “Whether res judicata bars the government from instituting a second removal proceeding against an immigrant based on a conviction that could have been charged as the basis for removal in a prior removal proceeding that resulted in a final decision in the immigrant’s favor?” The next action in the case will be Conference on September 30, 2013.
Follow the case on the SCOTUS Blog.
Professor Leonard Cavise highlighted DePaul Law’s commitment to public interest in the National Jurist’s Back to School 2013 issue. In the article, titled “How to Choose a School: For Public Interest,” Professor Cavise offers tips for students interested in law school as a first step to a career in public interest. He advises students to “make sure that the law school has dedicated resources to this area,” and the article goes on to highlight DePaul’s many public interest offerings, including clinics, a certificate, externships, and the Center for Public Interest Law.
The Vincentian tradition of service and social justice was alive and well recently, with more than 60 first-year law students spanned out across the city of Chicago to serve the poor and reflect upon the issues facing impoverished communities.
The student volunteers participated in the College of Law’s second annual 1L Service Day, which was organized by the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative and co-sponsored by the Center for Public Interest Law, Office of Law Admissions and University Ministry. Students were accompanied by a team of dedicated site leaders, which included second- and third-year law students, as well as law staff and faculty.
Site leader and College of Law Chaplain Tom Judge praised the service day as “DePaul at its best; as a community going out into the city to serve. But, not just serve, we tried to engage with people, share a little of ourselves with them, and learn about the issues they face.”
The student volunteers worked hard at five different sites including Pacific Garden Mission, Legal Prep Charter Academy, Cornerstone Community Outreach, Catholic Charities Nutritious Food Program Warehouse, and West Communities YMCA. Among other things, their jobs included making beds and preparing and serving meals at a homeless shelter, organizing books for a classroom library, sorting clothing donations, packing nutritious food boxes for low-income seniors and children, and cleaning locker rooms and a child care space.
In addition to providing the students a chance to engage in hands-on volunteer work, the service day was an opportunity for incoming first-year students to build community and relax before diving into classes. First-year law student Guadalupe Perez found a respite through volunteering: “After two hectic days of orientation, the 1L Service Day provided an informal and fulfilling way to meet other law students who place the same importance on community involvement as I do. Not only did I meet new students, but I also learned about a neighborhood and an organization that I would not have necessarily gone out of my way to see or learn about. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the event.”
Michelle Cass, a 3L Site leader who was assigned to the Catholic Charities Warehouse, felt similarly: “It was fantastic to work as a team of law students and be reminded of how wonderful the experience of service is both intrinsically and for the good of others. We had moments of reflection, laughter, and community. I was inspired by the turnout of the 1L class, and it made me feel proud and confident in our DePaul community, and excited for what may come from the future stewards of the legal profession.”
The service day was also a way to introduce students to the array of pro bono and community service opportunities at DePaul in hopes that students will continue to engage in service while law students and beyond. According to 1L Tim Bingham, the service day accomplished this goal: “I really appreciated the dedication to service that the DePaul staff showed while working with us 1Ls. It made me feel like they cared about the community DePaul was a part of and now I want to continue working with the law school on service and pro bono projects for the next three years.”
The service day was also an important learning experience for the volunteer site leaders, many of whom gained insights about nearby communities and the agencies that serve them. Haley Guion, a 2L who was assigned to Legal Prep Charter Academy, enjoyed working with books to help promote literacy for high school students: “Volunteering as a Site Leader for the 1L Service Day at the Legal Academy brought perspective to the hectic law school routine. That day, I stepped into another person's shoes. I was able to see a day in the life of an English teacher and of a student at the Legal Academy. It was very grounding. The most rewarding part of volunteering was that I left knowing I had set in motion a path for a student to take (reading a book found in the Classics section) that they otherwise would not have taken.” Allen Moye, Director of the Law Library, gained new knowledge about Pacific Garden Mission, a homeless shelter in the South Loop. He noted that: “My experience volunteering at PGM was very enlightening and rewarding. It is a very well-run organization, providing nutritional and spiritual nourishment to men, women, and children who have fallen on difficult times.”
The 1L Service Day was an inspirational and thought-provoking day for all who participated and was just the beginning of a long and meaningful journey of service for the Class of 2016.
This past year, a team of DePaul College of Law volunteers worked with Legal Prep Charter Academy ninth graders to prepare them for their end of the year mock trial competition, which took place on Tuesday, May 13, 2013 at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse Building.
DePaul worked with two groups of Legal Prep students and both groups won their competitions. The case was a civil matter involving an allegation that a police officer used excessive force when arresting a teenage boy, who was the plaintiff. The DePaul teams represented the defense.
Several DePaul volunteers also served as judges for other teams, including College of Law Dean Greg Mark, alumna Linda Bryceland (JD '86), and Pro Bono Director Cheryl Price. Professor Mark Moller, alumna Jessica Schneider (JD '10), College of Law staff member Elizabeth Boe, and law student Beckee Birger coached the DePaul teams during the competition. Dean Mark was the only law school dean who volunteered to assist at the competition.
For many of the students, the mock trial program was their first in-depth study of our legal system and the components of a trial. The Legal Prep students prepared and delivered both opening and closing statements and called witnesses for direct and cross examination. DePaul volunteers, who have been working with Legal Prep students since September 2012, first taught lessons on these topics and then helped students prepare their parts for the mock trial.
DePaul’s volunteer team was comprised of law students, faculty, staff, and alumni. They included Dean Gregory Mark, Professor Mark Moller, Elizabeth Boe, Associate Director of Recruiting, Law Career Services, Cheryl Price, Director of the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative, Alumni Linda Bryceland, Jessica Schneider, Andrea McKenna, and Michelle Miller, and law students Rebecca Birger, Sarah Gorham, Taylor Goulborn, Will Guardia, and Jacquita Richardson.
The volunteers really enjoyed working with and getting to know the students. According to alumna Jessica Schneider "Working with the students was really rewarding, especially as you saw them grasp new concepts and get excited about being part of a trial. It was hard for me to get away from work, but every time I began a teaching session with the students I was always happy to be there and it would truly brighten my day. We taught challenging concepts, but usually found a way to help the students relate to them in a way they would understand.
Despite the challenges it was great to see it all come together in the mock trial at the end of the school year. I was very proud of them!" DePaul’s Pro Bono Director, Cheryl Price, agrees, “The Legal Prep students were really fun to work with. They were excited and interested about the legal process and worked hard to prepare for the mock trial. We look forward to working with them next year.”
Earlier this month, the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) and Pro Bono and Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) staff participated in the Equal Justice Conference in St. Louis.
Adrienne Packard, assistant director of CPIL, was on the planning committee for the national gathering of law school pro bono and public service program directors.
Packard also moderated a panel discussion of New York's mandatory pro bono admission requirement and the national implications of the rule. She was joined by David Udell from the National Center for Access to Justice and Cordozo Law School, Thomas Maligno from Touro Law School, David Johnson from George Washington University Law School and Holly Eaton, formerly of Georgetown Law School.
Panelists discussed the implication of this rule for the law school community and the potential effects on law school curriculum and pro bono programs. The panel agreed that there are still many details of the rule that are unclear and much anticipation about evidence of a measurable impact from the rule. Several states, including New Jersey and California, are currently in the process of creating their own pro bono requirements for admission to the bar.
CPIL and PBCSI staff also participated in sessions concerning law student pro bono ethics, effective lawyering for law students, creating and improving law school pro bono programs, pro bono tracking and outcome measures, law school access to justice commission partnerships and fostering relationships with legal aid providers to create meaningful partnerships. CPIL and PBCSI staff met and networked with law school professionals in their field from across the country, sharing ideas and gaining support for future endeavors.
DePaul law alumni Eleanor Endzel ('12), Neil Kelley ('11) and Trevor Clarke ('11) were accepted to the Chicago Bar Foundation's recently launched Justice Entrepreneurs Project.
The Justice Entrepreneurs Project (JEP) supports recent law graduates who are building their law practices with the goal of serving clients of modest means. The project also addresses two trends in the legal community: a surplus of law graduates and an increase in need for legal aid. This model is designed to serve the legal needs of populations who may not meet the criteria for traditional legal aid organizations, but also may not be able to afford private legal services.
The JEP will not only teach participants new skills to run a successful law practice, but also will provide a physical workspace, opportunities for peer collaboration, mentoring and business coaching. By participating in the JEP, DePaul alumni will continue to be at the forefront of effectuating change for underserved communities.
The DePaul Journal for Social Justice hosted its annual symposium on April 17, 2013, which focused on housing issues as they affect low-income populations in Chicago. The symposium was co-sponsored by the Center for Public Interest Law and supported by the Vincentian Endowment Fund. Take Shelter: Keep Shelter, the theme of the event, provided information and discussion on the mortgage foreclosure crisis, the creation of affordable housing, and the Chicago Housing Authority’s one-strike eviction policy to more than 70 attorneys, law students and community members.
During the first panel, speakers discussed the mortgage foreclosure crisis, including its history, lasting effects and proposed solutions for working with clients who have been hardest hit by the crisis. Daniel Lindsey, supervisory attorney for the consumer practice group at Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, started the panel with an apt comparison of the mortgage bubble to the creation and ultimate demise of the infamous Titanic.
Alumna Cecilia Abundis (’04), an assistant attorney general, highlighted the investigations and meaningful litigation the Illinois Attorney General’s office has been engaging in for more than a decade to combat fraudulent mortgage-related activity and to hold lenders accountable for their actions. Finally, Liz Caton, housing counselor for Northwest Side Housing Center, encouraged attorneys and law students to work directly with housing counselors to provide a more holistic service for clients undergoing foreclosure. Caton emphasized the need to truly counsel clients on financial planning, working with banks, and how to survive and carry on post-foreclosure.
The symposium’s keynote speaker, Nicholas Brunick, partner at Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen, gave an impassioned speech on creating sustainable development and affordable housing in struggling communities, and encouraged attendees to find and commit their life to their passion. The fundamental message was that at the core of all development or private investment is a community: when you have an organized community that is committed to growth and fostering safe, productive neighborhoods, you are more likely to have successful community development projects.
The second panel of the day addressed the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) one-strike eviction policy, which removes an individual and his or her entire family from a site-based housing program or from the Section 8 voucher program for any criminal conduct. Alan Mills, attorney at Uptown People’s Law Center, explained how the policy, designed to reduce criminal activity in public housing, serves as a blanket policy of mandatory eviction for any arrest-more often than not, for possession of a negligible amount of marijuana.
Lawrence Wood, director of the housing legal group at Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, expanded on the CHA policy by explaining how one simple arrest, regardless of conviction, can mean termination from the housing program for the entire family living with the arrested individual. Wood also provided the defenses that attorneys representing tenants often use to prevent one-strike policy evictions. Tenants often claim the “innocent tenant” defense or have the individual barred from the premises as a show of amelioration, even when that individual is a teenager.
At the close of the CHA one-strike policy panel, Professor Michael Seng of the John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Support Center illustrated how the policy is actually racially discriminatory because the incarceration rate affects a disproportionate amount of African Americans. He proposed using the Fair Housing Act to show that the one-strike policy has a disparate impact on certain races considering the concentration of police power and criminal prosecutions on predominantly African American neighborhoods.
“I knew that the collateral consequences of a criminal record were far-reaching, but CHA’s one-strike policies are even more deplorable than I realized before this panel,” said Courtney Kelledes (’13). “I was grateful to hear Professor Seng’s exciting proposals for the use of existing laws to overcome the barriers faced by individuals with criminal records in both the public and private housing sectors.”
“Take Shelter: Keep Shelter” was a forum for scholars and practitioners in various areas of housing law to educate on substantive issues and proposed policy changes, but also a place to create dialogue about the current state of housing in Chicago. One attorney in attendance stated after the symposium, “These issues of inadequate housing in Chicago are why I went to law school. This symposium brought me back to my roots.”
By Adrienne Packard, Assistant Director, CPIL
Most agree that the time we spend in law school provides an opportunity to learn the letter of the law, make lifelong friends, and gain invaluable experiences in our field of interest. It is also important to take advantage of the opportunity to learn the practice of law and to experience the full benefit of providing service to those in need.
Several law students learned this firsthand during the inaugural Pro Bono Staycation held over spring break in Chicago. Rather than spend their spring break relaxing or traveling, Kevin O’Donnell (’13), Brooke Tucker (’14), Jennifer Thomas (’15) and Sylvia Zarski (’15) decided to work with the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services and The Center for Disability and Elder Law (CDEL). The students started off the week at the Legal Aid Society where they assisted the family law practice group in wrapping up their open files and shadowing attorneys in court. By having the students close cases, attorneys were able to focus more of their energy on the advocacy aspect of their work, rather than the administrative. They also provided the students opportunities to see firsthand the daily work of legal aid family law attorneys.
The students spent the remainder of their week volunteering with CDEL, where they interviewed clients and assisted in drafting powers of attorneys for healthcare and property for low-income senior citizens as part of CDEL’s Senior Legal Assistance Clinics. Despite the fact that the services provided by the students spanned the course of only a few days, participants were able to see the immediate impact of their work and walk away knowing they had helped clients with something they may not have accomplished on their own. These clients, who were elderly and spoke limited English, worked with the students and interpreters to complete and execute documents that, if needed, will make their care and protection seamless.
Tom Wendt, legal director at CDEL, explains the impact and importance of student volunteer service: “Having students in our office allows CDEL to provide services to a greater number of low-income seniors and people with disabilities. As a volunteer-based organization, CDEL literally could not exist without the dedicated volunteers that offer their time and talents to CDEL and its clients.”
Wendt advocated for students to commit to regular volunteer work. He maintains, “The impact that volunteering has on the students is really three-fold. First, student volunteers learn valuable, practical legal skills, which can augment the more theoretical learning in the law school classroom. Second, it provides students with the opportunity to hone various skills, [such as] drafting, interpersonal and client-relations skills, etc. Finally, volunteering at an organization like CDEL provides students with an introduction into the world of pro bono legal service, something that they can take with them into private practice.”
Although DePaul offers many opportunities for students to participate in spring break service projects outside the Chicago area, the Staycation is unique in that the work is provided in our own backyard. Cheryl Price, director of the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative, explains it best: “One of the wonderful things about the pro bono Staycation is the opportunity to work locally with programs in the Chicago area and with client populations in our local community. Although you can provide service anywhere, working outside of the Chicago area does not provide the opportunity to build relationships with community partners or potential future employers in the Chicago area.”
The Center for Public Interest Law concluded the yearlong Public Interest Legal Skills Series with a three session restorative justice series. Adjunct Professors Elizabeth Vastine and Peter Newman taught the series this April during the lunch hour. Vastine and Newman held each session in a restoratve justice circle, to help students gain a basic understanding of the practice, as well as how it is implemented in Cook County Juvenile Justice system.
Student participants praised the opportunity to collaborate with one another and learn more about this increasingly popular method of alternative dispute resolution, which is fast becoming a critical practice in juvenile justice system. "I was so grateful to have the chance to gain restorative justice skills," said Cindy Bedrosian ('14). "We learned about restorative justice by actually participating in a restorative justice circle each week. It was wonderful to have this opportunity to learn about an innovative practice by experiencing it, instead of merely attending a lecture."
The American Society of International Law (ASIL) recently announced 11 student and young professional winners of its 2013 Helton Fellowships for projects in international law. Selected from more than 70 applicants from throughout the world, DePaul alumna Natalie Long (JD '12) is one of the 11 recipients. She will receive a micro-grant of $2,000 to provide legal services through Servicios de Apoyo Intercultural, A.C., to three indigenous Mayan communities located in the Lacandon Jungle in the state of Chiapas, Mexico.
ASIL established the Helton Fellowship Program in 2004 in honor of Arthur C. Helton, an internationally renowned lawyer and advocate for the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons. Helton died in the August 19, 2003, bombing of the United Nations (UN) mission in Baghdad.
Helton Fellows undertake fieldwork and research in association with established educational institutions, international organizations or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). They pursue fieldwork in or research on issues involving human rights, international criminal law, humanitarian affairs and other international law areas. The 2013 Helton Fellows include students and professionals from King's College of London, Harvard Law School, University of Ottawa, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Australian National University, among others.
The Helton Fellowship Program is administered by ASIL through its Career Development Program, and is funded by a grant from the Planethood Foundation and generous contributions from ASIL members.
In September 2012, the Next Gen Committee of the National Lawyers' Guild invited Long to discuss her human rights work in Chiapas with DePaul law students. She highlighted five cases handled by Servicios de Apoyo Intercultural, focusing on human rights violations in Chiapas.
On March 6, the Center for Public Interest Law invited four criminal defense attorneys to meet with students and share their experiences working in the field. Students received a great opportunity to gain career advice from successful practicing attorneys.
Criminal defense attorneys Molly Armour, Carol Brook, Jessica Hunter and Elizabeth Schroeder spoke to a packed room of students about the rewards and challenges of this line of work. Samantha Silverstein, a third year student and panel moderator, was particularly enthused by this year's discussion.
"This year's criminal defense panel was populated by strong women who each provided a unique perspective on the field. From a fearless private defender who suggested having a network of criminal defense comrades, to a Lake County Public Defender who touted the benefits of working at a smaller office--such as more likely employment and closer supervision--the panel was not to be missed."
On February 28, the Center for Public Interest Law held the first of its returning series of brown bag lunches. Put together by CPIL's Mentorship Committee, these small speaker events aim to bring students and local practitioners together in a relaxed atmosphere so students can not only learn about attorney's experiences, but also build meaningful relationships through communication and interaction.
The first lunch kicked off with a how-to theme, focusing on what steps students should take if they want to start their own practice. Speaking at the event were DePaul alumni Amanda Graham ('12), Katie Kizer ('12), and Damon Ritenhouse ('11). Amanda and Katie successfully started their own criminal defense practice after graduation, and Damon joined a small civil litigation firm right at its start-up.
The speakers discussed topics such as business plans and marketing, the importance of having mentors, how to get clientele, and the timeframe students should take into account while planning for the future. Students who attended learned the ins and outs of the attorneys' lives at present, and received invaluable insider advice on how to get there.
CPIL plans on hosting two more brown bag lunches this semester, focused on non-traditional lawyering and different areas of local and governmental policy work. Emails and announcements can be found at CPIL's Facebook page.
In February 2013, the women of DePaul’s Women’s Bar Association (“WBA”) joined the College of Law’s Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (“PBCSI”) to provide an afternoon of lunch and entertainment for the women of Deborah’s Place, Chicago's largest provider of supportive housing exclusively for women. The service day was PBCSI’s February 2013 Donate-A-Day event. DePaul law students gathered at the Rebecca Johnson Apartments, one of five supportive and interim housing accommodations run by Deborah’s Place, located on Chicago’s near West Side. The Rebecca Johnson Apartments provide supportive housing for 90 women, each of whom have their own apartment and pay 30% of their income as rent. Deborah’s Place offers case management and many structured activities, but the women live independently and are expected to provide their own meals and cover other living expenses.
Student volunteers prepared a lunch buffet consisting of sandwiches, snacks, cookies, and refreshments and served lunch to around forty of the women residing at the apartments. Serving and eating lunch with the women provided some quality time for everyone to visit and learn a little bit more about each other. All of the guests expressed excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to gather for a carefree afternoon of lunch and games. Samantha Sommerman, Social Chair of DePaul’s WBA, reflected on her experience at Deborah’s Place: “It was refreshing to step outside the bubble of law school and connect with people. I had a lot of fun eating sandwiches and playing Bingo with these ladies. They seemed genuinely interested in hearing about law school, and I know I was interested to hear about their lives.”
After lunch was served the fun really got started! Theresa Dollinger, President of DePaul’s WBA, started up a high-energy game of BINGO. The volunteers soon learned that Bingo is a house favorite among the women at the Rebecca Johnson Apartments. The women stayed focused and competitive hoping to win one of the prizes provided by the WBA, which included candy, body wash, shampoo, jewelry, and a number of gifts. The bingo game continued until every guest “GOT BINGO” and was able to choose from the assortment of prizes. Both the student volunteers and the women of Deborah’s Place seemed to really enjoy the day. It was an experience that benefited all who participated. The women of DePaul’s WBA look forward to organizing future events with PBCSI and Deborah’s place in order to help them continue to fulfill their mission of breaking the cycle of homelessness through compassion and innovation.
The 15 DePaul University College of Law students enrolled in the Death Penalty Practicum have taken on the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, whom military prosecutors are seeking to execute for his role as the alleged mastermind of Al-Qaeda’s bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen’s Aden harbor on October 12, 2000.
Seventeen American sailors were killed and 39 were injured after two suicide bombers in a small boat pulled alongside the Navy’s guided missile destroyer and detonated 400 to 700 pounds of explosives. Other charges against al-Nashiri result from an earlier unsuccessful attempt to bomb the USS The Sullivans in January 2000 and the suicide bombing of the French oil tanker Limburg, killing one civilian sailor, in October 2002.
Al-Nashiri became a detainee at the U.S. Military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2006 after four years in CIA black sites in Afghanistan, Thailand, Poland, Morocco and Romania. According to a 2004 report by the CIA Inspector General, U.S. interrogators waterboarded al-Nashiri; racked a semi-automatic handgun next to his head in a mock execution; threatened him with a power drill while he was naked and hooded; and suggested that his mother or another family member would be brought to the secret site and raped.
Al-Nashiri is the first Guantanamo prisoner being prosecuted on death penalty charges. Current issues before the military commission hearing the case are whether he is mentally competent to participate in his defense, given his years of harsh treatment and torture; whether the CIA has been eavesdropping on privileged conversations; and whether the legal proceeding is in essence a show trial, given that prosecutors have stated that there is no possibility of release in the event of an acquittal.
In addition, al-Nashiri’s defense team has an appeal pending in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the authority of the military commission adjudicating al-Nashiri’s case. A group of retired U.S. admirals and brigadier generals has filed an amicus brief in that case, arguing that the commissions are a departure from the constitutional use of military tribunals and that they endanger American troops and government representatives abroad who could face similar extra-judicial proceedings. Physicians for human rights also filed an amicus brief, arguing that justice cannot be accomplished in a military prison environment where a torture victim is still controlled by the same authorities who tortured him.
Professor Andrea Lyon, Death Penalty Practicum director and associate dean of Clinical Programs, and her students will work alongside military attorneys Lieutenant Commander Stephen Reyes and Major Allison Danels, as well as civilian attorney Richard Kammen, a renowned death penalty lawyer based in Indianapolis.
The Center for Public Interest Law was fortunate to host Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean of the University of California-Irvine School of Law and former DePaul College of Law professor, on Wednesday, February 20. Students packed into the lecture hall to hear Chemerinsky speak on the value of pro bono and experiential learning in law school. His talk was of particular significance; the New York Appellate Court recently imposed a new requirement for admittance to the New York Bar. Those seeking admission must complete 50 hours of pro bono work while in law school.
Chemerinsky zealously supports a pro bono requirement for law students; he cited three reasons for his support. First, experiential learning is necessary to learn the skill of lawyering. Chemerinsky compared lawyers to doctors--would we allow doctors to practice medicine without ever having seen a patient under the supervision of a skilled doctor? Second, a pro bono requirement would provide more low-cost legal services. Because the practice of law is reserved to those admitted to a state bar, a monopoly on legal services exists. Pro bono work by law students can help correct this monopoly. Third, the requirement will promote pro bono work throughout the lifetime.
Students seeking pro bono opportunities at DePaul can contact Cheryl Price, director of the Pro Bono and Community Service Initiative, to learn about the many ways they can get involved.
Freezing temperatures and gray skies did not stop a dedicated group of DePaul students from volunteering at DePaul College of Law’s January 2013 Donate-A-Day.
Organized by the College of Law’s Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI), the Donate-A-Day took place on January 26, 2013 at the Our Lady of Charity School in Cicero, IL. University Ministry (UMIN) in the Loop co-sponsored the event, along with two College of Law student groups: the Latino Law Student Association and the Society for Asylum & Immigration Law.
Nearly forty Loop students participated, including law, international, and business students. Law School Chaplain Tom Judge and PBCSI Student Coordinator Desalina Williams were the site leaders for the service day.
The volunteers arrived at the school shortly after 10:00 a.m. and quickly got to work on a wide range of projects. Some volunteers headed over to the rectory to clean and organize a large storage closet full of donated items for people in need. Another group of volunteers worked on creating an inventory of donations that would be sold at a garage sale fundraiser.
Students cleaned the kitchen and cafeteria and others painted a room that will serve as the new teachers’ lounge. Sorting toys in the day care, cleaning and organizing gym equipment in storage closets, and general scrubbing and cleaning (washing windows and vacuuming the chapel) were also on the to-do list for the day.
During the lunch break, the volunteers got to know each other and Our Lady of Charity better.
Our Lady of Charity Principal Katie Olson talked about the history of the school and its students. She explained that most students are Hispanic and African-American and qualify for free or reduced lunch. For many of the students, English is a second language. She also explained that, although the school is growing, it is still struggling financially. Olsen also shared her background, history and reasoning as to why she chose education as her vocation.
As part of the discussion, DePaul volunteers debated the “education pipeline.” They shared ideas about how to shape student expectations so that finishing high school and attending college is a priority, even if no other family member has done so. The volunteers found the discussion and overall experience meaningful.
When asked to comment about the service day, first year law student Angelica Griffin stated: “In response to my personal experience I would have to say one of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering was the opportunity to meet, connect, and make friends with people throughout the university as a whole. Everyone shared an interest of being a part of the solution.”
First year student Alana De Leon was also energized by her day of service. “Getting out and serving others really makes you realize what an impact you want to make and can make if you have the passion and the drive to do so," she said. "The programs [at Our Lady of Charity] to help their students celebrate the diversity of the community and promote education were powerful and inspiring. The school's emphasis on faith, service, and education as the foundational elements for success really struck home for the law students who so easily lose touch with such simple principles in the face of endless deadlines, reading assignments and legal concepts. It was nice to refocus on the basics and recharge while serving others.”
PBCSI hosts three Donate-A-Day service projects per semester. For more information about PBCSI and its Donate-A-Day service projects, please contact Cheryl Price at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) is starting off the semester with its second Legal Skill Series of the year. This six-part legal skills series will focus on racial discrimination in employment and will be lead by plaintiff's attorney Mike Persoon, Despres Schwartz & Geoghegan Ltd.
The series is structured to give students a basic undertsanding of how to litigate an individual disparate treatment employment discrimination case arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. By the end of the series, CPIL and Mr. Persoon hope that students will have the following skills:
Identifying good cases while avoiding bad ones
- Navigating the EEOC process
- Drafting a complaint
- Conducting discovery
- Defeating summary judgment
While the six-part series is not an exhaustive survey of Title VII, the skills used in proving intentional race discrimination are also highly transferable.
The skills series will take place at 25 E Jackson Blvd, Lewis 904, from 11:50 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. over six consecutive Mondays (January 28 to March 4). Attendance at all six sessions is preferred, but not required. Those who attend all six sessions will be recognized with a certificate of completion.
The series is open to all students who RSVP. If you would like to attend, please email email@example.com.
More than 50 law students attended the student service fair in an effort to learn more about volunteering with the College of Law’s Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI). Organized by PBCSI Director Cheryl Price, the fair introduced students to the various service opportunities at the College of Law and beyond.
Price started the event with general information about PBCSI, including the college's recommendation that students commit to at least 50 hours of service while at DePaul. Students learned the basics of volunteering, such as how to report their hours to earn a service award.
Students heard from PBCSI student coordinators Jeffrey Boucher (JD '13), Rebecca Birger (JD '13), Sam Keen (JD '14), and Desalina Williams (JD '14), who discussed volunteer opportunities at PBCSI’s six partner agencies, including A.N. Pritzker Elementary School, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Center for Disability & Elder Law, Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago, Croak Student Legal Services, and Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights.
Students also learned about DePaul’s Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project, a pro bono legal help desk for the homeless and indigent in the South Loop, and PBCSI’s Donate-A-Days, day-long service opportunities for students who may not be ready to make a long-term volunteer commitment. PBCSI’s January 2013 Donate-A-Day took place at Our Lady of Charity School in Cicero, IL. Student volunteers painted and cleaned at the school. The Donate-A-Day was co-sponsored by UMIN in the Loop, and two student groups, the Society for Asylum & Immigration Law and the Latino Law Student Association.
DePaul’s Schiller Ducanto & Fleck Family Law Center’s Domestic Violence Courthouse Project and Spring Break Juvenile Detention Center project, DePaul’s Immigration and Asylum Law Clinic’s Spring Break Border Project, Illinois Legal Aid Online’s LiveHelp Operator training, the National Immigrant Justice Center’s upcoming U-Visa workshops, and summer internships with BENNU Legal Services.
PBCSI recommends the student service fair for students looking to gather information, or for first-year students who may be ready to start volunteering, but are not sure how or where to start. As Price explained, "PBCSI ensures that students get connected to service opportunities that fit their interests and schedules. It is wonderful to see so many law students ready to go out and help others. They truly make an impact while gaining hands-on legal skills.”
If you are interested in learning more about PBCSI, please contact PBCSI Director, Cheryl Price, at firstname.lastname@example.org.