Pro Bono Initiative

Learning Through Service
To see more pictures from past events, please visit our Facebook page!
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APRIL 16, 2013 – DeSoto County Pro Se Day

Students built hours toward the Pro Bono Credit hour, gained family law experience at the courthouse, and networked with practicing attorneys. The Pro Bono Initiative of the law school co-sponsored a trip to DeSoto County to assist self-represented litigants in completing pleadings and presenting family law matters to the Chancery Court. Students  interviewed and assisted litigants under the supervision of the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project and experienced volunteer attorneys.

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APRIL 10, 2013 – Luncheon

The UM Pro Bono Initiative hosted a lunch honoring our student, attorney and faculty volunteers at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10. This year, approximately 100 students volunteered thousands of hours while helping over 400 clients.

Spring 2013 – Tax Assistance Project

The UM Pro Bono Tax Assistance Project e-filed over 200 returns with federal refunds exceeding $225,000 this spring in addition to filing 35 paper returns. 30 of the paper returns were for international students, which is an area the Tax Assistance Project intends to explore more next year.

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April 4, 2013 – Family Law Clinic

The Pro Bono Initiative, the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project, and North Mississippi Rural Legal Services co-sponsored a Legal Clinic at the law school on Thursday, April 4 from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. to assist ten low-income Mississippians with family law matters. Professor Deborah Bell provided a family law CLE training. Student and attorney volunteers then assisted clients after the training.

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March 20, 2013 – Greenville Pro Se Day
The Pro Bono Initiative of the law school co-sponsored a trip to Greenville to assist self-represented litigants in completing pleadings and presenting family law matters to the Washington County Chancery Court. Students interviewed and assisted litigants under the supervision of the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project and experienced volunteer attorneys.
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March 11 – 15 – Alternative Spring Break in Atlanta
Ebonie Adams, Karen Brindisi, RaToya Gilmer, Melissa Groover, Katie Lauterback Barber, Summers Meek, Emily Moore, and Lee Watson spent spring break in the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta assisting victims of domestic violence. The week culminated in success as the students secured judgments of protection for two victims of prolonged, serious abuse – one through a negotiated settlement and one in a contested trial. Congratulations to these students for their fine work, particularly third-year students RaToya, Melissa, Summers and Lee who were able to appear in court under the Georgia Limited Practice Act. Thanks from UMPBI to the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyer Foundation and Liz Whipple of AVLF, Kilpatrick Townsend Pro Bono Partner Debbie Segal, and to the judges and court staff who welcomed the team and took time to describe for us their outstanding program.
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March 5, 2013 – Housing Rights Education Project
Law students practiced their speaking skills and helped educate junior college students about their rights in rental housing. Professor Bell’s Pro Bono Initiative designed an entertaining and informative presentation, complete with a “People’s Court” sketch, hypothetical litigants, and a packet of materials. Law students presented the one-hour program to a Northwest Community College class on March 5, 2013.
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February 26, 2013 – DeSoto County Pro Se Day
The Pro Bono Initiative of the law school co-sponsored a trip to DeSoto County to assist self-represented litigants in completing pleadings and presenting family law matters to the Chancery Court. Students interviewed and assisted litigants under the supervision of the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project and experienced volunteer attorneys.
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February 16, 2013 – Masquerade Charity Ball
The 2013 Charity Ball raised nearly $12,000 for the Pro Bono Initiative! Thanks to everyone who helped with, supported, and attended this event. A special thanks to Katelyn Harrell!
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February 8, 2013 – Poverty & Access to Justice Symposium
Across the nation, states are grappling with ways to remove barriers to the justice system. This challenge is particularly daunting in Mississippi, a state burdened with the highest poverty rates in the country. At the Symposium, state supreme court justices, appellate and trial judges, scholars, and practitioners examined barriers to the justice system, creative legal service delivery methods, and specific programs that are proving effective.
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October 18, 2012 – MVLP Family Law Clinic
The Fall Family Law Clinic served over twenty clients received services that they would not have been able to afford. As a group, we assisted clients with divorces, guardianships, adoptions, birth certificates, name changes, and emancipations.
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October 5, 2012 – High School Education Project
Law students practiced their speaking skills and helped to educate high school seniors about their rights in rental housing. Professor Bell’s Pro Bono Working Group designed an entertaining and informative presentation for high school seniors, complete with a “People’s Court” sketch, hypothetical litigants, and a packet of materials. Student volunteers presented the one-hour program to a class of high school students.
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September 19, 2012 – Greenville Pro Se Day
The Pro Bono Initiative sponsored a trip to Greenville to assist self-represented litigants in completing pleadings and presenting family law matters to the Washington County Chancery Court. Students interviewed and assisted litigants under the supervision of the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project and experienced volunteer attorneys.
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April 5, 2012 – Mississippi Volunteer Lawyer Project Clinic

Volunteer law students and attorneys, in partnership with Mississippi Volunteer Lawyer Project, served clients who would not otherwise have representation. Students interviewed and advised clients and drafted pleadings under the supervision of attorneys and Professor Bell. Matters included family law and guardianship.

  

February 10, 2012 – Child Support Modification Event

The Pro Bono Program Child Support Project hosted its second interview day on campus on Friday, February 10. This project links students with volunteer attorneys to assist child support payors in modification actions. Students handle a case from interview to court under the supervision of Professor Deborah Bell and a volunteer attorney.

  

November 4, 2011 – High School Education Project

The Pro Bono Initiative designed an entertaining and informative presentation for seniors at Oxford High School. Law students acted out a courtroom drama involving a landlord/tenant issue. The law students also provided information and precautions to the seniors before they rent their first apartment or house. The project was featured on MPB on November 7. The story can be found here.

October 6, 2011 – MVLP/Pro Bono Initiative Joint Project

Volunteer law students and attorneys, in partnership with Mississippi Volunteer Lawyer Project, served over thirty clients who would not otherwise have representation. Students interviewed and advised clients and drafted pleadings under the supervision of attorneys and Professor Bell. Matters included family law, guardianship, and employments.

September 29, 2011 – Child Support Modification Training

The Pro Bono Initiative launched a new family law project Friday, with a two-hour training program focusing on child support modification. Throughout the year, the Initiative will link students with volunteer attorneys to assist child support payors in modification actions. Students will be able to handle a case from interview to court under the supervision of Professor Deborah Bell and a volunteer attorney.

September 21, 2011Greenville

Student volunteers traveled to Greenville on September 21, where they, along with the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyer Project, assisted twenty-nine pro se litigants and MVLP clients in family law matters in the Washington County Chancery Court. Students gained first-hand litigation experience by interviewing litigants in the courthouse, identifying problems with their pleadings, and drafting pleadings on the spot. Cases included divorce, property division, custody, child support, guardianship, and termination of parental rights.

 

September 12, 2011 – Pro Se Subcommittee Presentation

On September 12, Prof. Bell’s Poverty Law class made a presentation to the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission Pro Se Committee. Members of the class are working to develop internet based, interactive self-help forms to assist litigants who wish to represent themselves, initially, in certain family law and domestic violence matters. At this meeting they demonstrated interactive websites and forms that self-represented litigants use in other states.


August 31, 2011 – Tupelo

The UM Law School Pro Bono Initiative hosted its first event of the year. The Tupelo event allowed students and alumni to gain hands-on experience in interviewing and counseling clients and drafting pleadings, while providing invaluable assistance to persons who could not otherwise afford an attorney.