Pro Bono Opportunities

The NIU College of Law pro bono initiative will pair you with mentoring attorneys in nearby counties who are willing to engage in legal work on behalf of:

  • persons of limited means or underserved populations
  • charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations for various purposes
  • individuals or groups who wish to secure or protect civil rights

You may only be paired with, and supervised by, practicing attorneys.

Some pro bono programs are available for first-year students, and most are available to second- and third-year students. All students may volunteer for pro bono activity at any time.

For more information, please contact Greg Anderson at ganderson@niu.edu or 815-753-9604.

If you are interested in this opportunity, please print and fill out the interest form and return it to Lisa Hoebing or LeAnn Baie in the Faculty Suite, Swen Parson Hall room 190.

Approved Pro Bono Service Recognition

Your diploma will note your pro bono activity if you have performed more than sixty hours of service while at the College of Law.

Opportunities

Students, especially those with Spanish language skills, may volunteer each March to plan and participate in this day-long free legal advice forum. It is usually held on a Saturday in early April under the supervision of volunteer alumni and other attorneys in the area. Clients generally have questions and concerns typical of those found in most legal services programs, such as immigration, domestic relations, consumer, landlord-tenant problems, SSA problems and the like.

LLSA at the College of Law generally assumes responsibility for organizing this event, and their members may be contacted if you are interested in participating in this project. Otherwise, contact Greg Anderson at ganderson@niu.edu.

LiveHelp is an innovative service that allows people looking for legal information and self-help resources on www.IllinoisLegalAid.org to ask a remotely located LiveHelp operator for assistance in navigating that website. Volunteers also provide direct person-to-person online help so that people in need of legal assistance can obtain the information they need to achieve more positive outcomes to their legal problems.

You can participate from any computer with internet access, making this a flexible volunteer opportunity for busy law students. You do not need to have any prior legal knowledge or experience, and you will receive training, supervision and support from Illinois Legal Aid Online. You are expected to take one, two-hour shift per week for six months (fifty hours). 1Ls are as welcome as 2Ls and 3Ls.

You can read more about LiveHelp and watch a promotional video on the Illinois Legal Aid website. The clinic schedules online webinar training for volunteers during the summer and academic year. The director of this program also sets up space at the law school each semester to explain and promote this program.

To find out more about the LiveHelp Program or to sign up for a training, please contact Tevin Williams, LiveHelp Program Coordinator, at twilliams@illinoislegalaid.org or 312-977-9047 ext. 26.

Note: Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) has recently made Illinois the first state to offer a mobile application specifically for pro bono attorneys. The App is available for Apple and Android devices; go to IllinoisProBono.org from your mobile browser to download.

This agency protects and enforces the rights of individuals with mental illness, developmental disability or physical disability through three separate divisions: the Office of State Guardians, Legal Advocacy Services (LAS) and the Human Rights Authority.

The staff attorneys of LAS provide advice and representation to thousands of persons with disabilities, including minors and adults as well as residents of the community and treatment facilities. Their services include but are not limited to:

  • serving as court-appointed counsel, in the trial and reviewing courts, in hearings for involuntary mental health commitment and treatment
  • responding to requests for information regarding the legal rights of persons with disabilities
  • investigating alleged violations of those legal rights and providing advocacy to remedy substantiated violations

You would have the opportunity to assist a senior LAS attorney representing respondents in civil commitment and/or treatment hearings and to assist senior attorneys in research and writing appellate briefs from an order for civil commitment or involuntary psychotropic medication.

Prior student LAS volunteers have conducted research, handled involuntary civil commitment and treatment hearings, participated in mental health law training and provided information to persons in treatment facilities who have questions about their legal rights. They have also assisted in drafting Advanced Directives for healthcare, property and mental health treatment.

The Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission has nine offices located around the State of Illinois including Chicago, Des Plaines, Peoria, Rockford and Maywood, and three satellite offices in Tinley Park Mental Health center, Read Mental Health Center and Elgin Mental Health Center.

Legal Advocacy Services would prefer 3Ls and 2Ls but would not rule out any competent, dedicated and hard working 1L. If you need any additional information or have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact:. Veronique Baker, Director, Legal Advocacy Services, Illinois Guardianship & Advocacy Commission, (312) 793-5914. For additional information, contact Greg Anderson.

As part of the program, you are paired up with attorneys (some NIU alumni) from the area to help them with their pro bono work among the residents of the shelter. The attorneys lessen their workload with the assistance of volunteer pro bono students, those in need are given services and NIU students get some practical experience.

There are four lawyers currently serving as supervisors and mentors who will rotate evening on-site service twice a month (at first) at the Hesed House Homeless Shelter in Aurora (average nightly population of about 425 persons). These volunteer attorneys will supervise four or five law students (preferably with 711 licenses) in intake, interviewing, counseling, litigation research and representation (or referral where appropriate).

Your experience will involve a variety of substantive legal areas of concern to your target population, which will be the shelter constituencies as well as those under-represented and qualified persons in the surrounding community. Clients have questions and concerns typical of those found in most legal services programs, such as immigration, domestic relations, consumer and landlord-tenant problems and the like.

This opportunity will be available this summer and during the academic year. To apply for this pro bono internship please contact: Bruce Bachmeier, Director of Volunteers, at 630-897-2156 ext. 538.

The Superintendent of the Illinois Youth Center of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, Chicago, wishes to ensure that youth in custody fully understand the records expungement process before they leave the facility. They are looking for students who would be interested in meeting with detainees once a month or once every 2 weeks to explain this process to the detainees prior to exit.

The Center is located at 136 N. Western Ave. in Chicago at the intersection of Western and Lake. Volunteers are required to undergo background checks.

Contact Olukayode Idowu, Illinois Youth Center, 136 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL 60612, 312-633-5219 X4090 (facility).

Positions, paid and unpaid, are available for interns or SCR 711 students.

Contact Eric C. Weis, Esq., State’s Attorney ('97), Kendall County, Illinois (807 W. John St., Yorkville, IL 60560) at 630-553-4157.

However, please note that, generally, state's attorney work does not qualify for pro bono certification unless it involves work exclusively in child support enforcement, victim's support, a domestic violence unit, drug diversion or veteran's courts and the like. Most County State’s Attorney Offices will offer these sorts of programs for pro bono student assistance.

Most work for these agencies qualifies as pro bono work and our students are volunteering pro bono in many of these Illinois county offices, e.g., DeKalb, Kane, Winnebago, DuPage, Cook.

Alumni in Cook, Winnebago and DeKalb County have mentored several students over the past year in this sort of pro bono work. Contact Greg Anderson for information about current opportunities.

Annual summer openings are often available in the St. Charles, Rockford, Ottawa and Peoria offices. Waukegan, McHenry and Wheaton may have also have openings. Pro bono interns will work under staff or volunteer attorneys in handling the full complement of civil problems typically seen in legal services offices (request specific offices when you make contact). These opportunities are available during the academic year as well as the summer.

The training this agency provides, however, requires significant time commitment - perhaps equivalent to that required for an externship. Last summer, for example, PSLS asked students for a commitment of approximately 300 hours. These are quite valuable internship learning experiences.

As soon as you determine that you (2L or 3L students only) are interested, send a cover letter (noting offices of interest), resume, short writing sample (3 to 5 pages) and a list of three references to the director indicated below. She generally conducts a short initial interview by phone and then speaks with the local managing attorney if the student seems appropriate for a given office. Send applications and materials to:

Director of Volunteer Services
815-900-3286
volunteer@pslegal.org

Among their programs is a Tax Controversy Clinic. The agency will instruct you in “Tax Controversy” litigation and the representation of low income citizens before the IRS and Tax Court. Their lawyers, with student intern assistance, also help pro se taxpayers with their cases when Tax Court meets. Accountants are also needed to help non-filers with back taxes and to negotiate with the IRS for settlements.

Contact Judith Miller, Legal Services Director, at jmiller@administerjustice.org.

GoEco is providing global volunteering opportunities for university or law students and faculty. You can choose from a variety of placements focusing on animal and environmental conservation as well as humanitarian aid, using your knowledge and skills to provide a personal contribution.

Join the South Africa Tiger and Lion Park for a hands on wildlife experience, explore Cambodia while contributing to Teaching and Community Development or discover Israel with the Sustainable Agriculture Program.

Volunteering with any program includes accommodations, full board, full pre-departure & in-country assistance, training and support.

Contact information:

Phone - 646-240-4545
Email - goeco@goeco.org

If you would like to search for opportunities on your own, there are two websites that discuss numerous opportunities in Illinois:

LawStudents.IllinoisProBono.org - This site gives law students instantaneous access to a statewide database of volunteer opportunities that can be filtered by county, opportunity type, practice area and skills acquired.

Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) - This site is a complete listing of all participating agencies in Illinois that have been awarded grants to participate in PILI's Law Student Internship Program. You should not apply directly to any agency, but through use of PILI’s online application system.

Contact Us

Admissions
Swen Parson Hall 151
815-753-8595
law-admit@niu.edu
Dean's Office
Swen Parson Hall 270
815-753-1068