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Not for one's self, but for one's own: Tulane law approaches 230,000 pro bono hours

April 15, 2011

“Non sibi, sed suis,” Tulane’s motto reads, instructing citizens to act “not for one’s self, but for one’s own.” As the first law school in the nation to require public service as a component of a law degree, Tulane University Law School has fulfilled that motto, documenting nearly 230,000 total hours of student commitment to public service since the program officially began more than two decades ago.

As Assistant Dean for Public Interest Programs, Julie Jackson has witnessed the surge of selfless service since 1988, when she implemented the Tulane Law School pro bono program. The number of hours contributed by each student and the clients served has increased steadily, with each student now required to contribute a minimum of 30 hours “of legal service on behalf of indigent clients” as a prerequisite to graduation. While the majority of contributions occur in local communities, placements are scattered across the United States and as far away as Italy, Thailand, and South Africa.

According to Jackson, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, students have increasingly taken the initiative, with many surpassing the 30-hour minimum. Students contributing 60 or more hours of pro bono assistance during the academic year are honored each spring at an annual pro bono recognition luncheon.

This year’s event, which took place April 6 at Weinmann Hall, highlighted second-year law students Ashlye Banks, contributing 448 hours to date, and Scott Helsinger, who served nearly 400. Rosanna Eugenio, Tyler Maulsby, and Christin Morneau led the third-year law class volunteering 699, 893, and 618 hours respectively. At an average of 238 per person, this year’s 102 invited honorees collectively accrued 24,323 hours of public service.*

Lead contributor of the group Tyler Maulsby will graduate from Tulane Law School this May but says he has no plans to change paths. His eyes set on litigation, Maulsby admits there’s only one way to get there.

“I’ve always wanted to be a litigator,” he stated, “and the only way to be a litigator is to work in public interest law and to prove yourself.”

In September, Maulsby will head to the heart of the South Bronx, where he will work with The Bronx Defenders, a non-profit that “approaches clients from a 360 degree perspective to address any issues stemming out of their criminal case.” For the New York native, whose summer plans revolve around preparing for the state’s bar exam, the change of pace can’t come soon enough.

Scott Helsinger, also honored at this year’s luncheon, explains, “We often feel swallowed by the reading and preparation necessary for our classes. It is nice to get out of the law school and do something where we are making an impact, where we can meet lawyers, and where we can learn more about our areas of interest.”

Since May 2010, Tulane University Law School students as a whole have logged more than 23,000 pro bono hours, benefitting nearly 130 different organizations and placements. The Pro Bono Project of Southeastern Louisiana recognized and applauded the law school this past December by naming Tulane the “2010 Law School of the Year.” The recent award recognizes the law school’s longstanding and flourishing dedication to pro bono work.

A prerequisite of graduation, pro bono work has no impact on academic credits; individual transcripts reflect the total number of certified pro bono hours performed by the individual student. All pro bono work is performed under attorney supervision.

For more information on Public Interest Law at Tulane Law School, click here.

*based on total years of enrollment at Tulane Law School


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