After the holidays, 40 University of Texas School of Law students will hit the road to gain pro bono experience and help those in need. The group is part of a law student organization called Pro Bono in January, which has arranged car pools and housing for the students who will travel to the Rio Grande Valley and Houston over the winter break. According to a UT press release, 24 students will work with the South Texas Civil Rights Project and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid to interview low-income clients and help draft wills. Six students will work with the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project, helping immigration detainees complete asylum applications as well researching conditions in detainees’ home countries. And 10 students will work with volunteer attorneys in Houston to aid Hurricane Ike victims seeking housing assistance who have title questions regarding their property. Shannon Sims, a second-year law student who helped launch Pro Bono in January and serves as one of its coordinators, says she touted the program to her peers by telling them, “Even if you think you want to go work for a big firm for your whole life, this is an opportunity to get out there and sample public interest work.” Sims and her organization received funding and other assistance from UT’s William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law. Tina Fernandez, director of pro bono programs at the Justice Center; Mary Crouter, Justice Center assistant director; Barbara Hines, Immigration Clinic director; Heather K. Way, Community Development Clinic director; and Frances Martinez, Community Development Clinic adjunct professor will accompany students to the Rio Grande Valley and Houston to oversee, advise and assist them.
-- Miriam Rozen