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Pro bono dedication wins Law School of the Year for Tulane

December 18, 2015


Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Terri F. Love (L ’86) joins Assistant Dean Julie Jackson, Pro Bono Project Executive Director Rachel Piercey and Dean David Meyer after Tulane was honored as law school of the year.

Photo courtesy of the Pro Bono Project 

When faculty approved Tulane Law School’s pioneering requirement that, in order to graduate, students must donate time to performing legal services, New Orleans’ Pro Bono Project was a new nonprofit dedicated to matching residents in need with lawyers to help them.

It was the start of a partnership through which students have provided almost 7,000 hours to clients who might be involved in custody disputes, overwhelmed by debt, dealing with red tape over Social Security benefits or facing numerous other legal problems.

“It was the ideal model to accomplish a key goal of the program — to instill in law students the obligation to serve those who cannot otherwise afford legal assistance,” said Assistant Dean Julie Jackson, who oversees public interest programs.

Since 1988, Tulane Law has developed a vast array of other pro bono partners but continues to work closely with the Pro Bono Project, which now serves low-income families, individuals and elderly residents in six Louisiana parishes. To recognize that longstanding relationship, the Pro Bono Project chose Tulane as its 2015 Law School of the Year.

The project’s announcement said Tulane Law “has been in the forefront to make pro bono second nature for its graduates” and this year “stood out for the fine law clerks it sent during the year, especially some of the more advanced students who were getting LLM degrees.”

Among other work undertaken this year, seven first-year Tulane Law students in October helped the organization with a Louisiana Election Day program with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Students helped staff a hotline for voters who ran into difficulty with registration or identification and visited polling places to be available to assist if problems arose.

Tulane also is a longtime supporter of the Pro Bono Project’s annual fundraiser, the Justice for All Ball.

Overall during 2014-15, Tulane Law students donated more than 24,000 hours of work to a range of projects — in Louisiana, across the United States and internationally, according to Eileen Ryan, public interest program coordinator. A majority of students exceed the minimum required time, which in fall 2015 increased to 50 hours.


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