Archive for Events and Announcements

2016 PSJD Pro Bono Publico Award Winner & Merit Distinction Recipients Announced!

We are very pleased to announce the 2016 Pro Bono Publico Award Winner: Gabrielle Lucero.  This year we selected 10 finalists and chose a winner from the largest pool of candidates we’ve had in recent memory.  We’ve also selected two Merit Distinction recipients.  All three will be guest bloggers for the PSJD Blog.

In addition, we will be presenting Gabrielle with her award (and her $1,000) at Duke University School of Law in Durham, NC.  I look forward to meeting her, her family, and all those who helped her advance the work of the Veteran’s Assistance Project and Coalition Against Gendered Violence.

Here is the full announcement, with all the great finalists.  We are so grateful to them for their incredible work!!!

22nd Annual PSJD Pro Bono Publico Award

This prestigious award honors one law student nationwide for their pro bono contributions to society, and recognizes the significant contributions that law students make to underserved populations, the public interest community, and legal education through public service work.


Gabrielle Lucero

Duke University School of Law


Gabrielle is dedicated to helping her community directly and by creating infrastructures that will continue to serve clients after she graduates. First, recognizing a need to assist veterans and changes Legal Aid was undergoing in its work with veterans, Gabrielle took up the leadership of the Veterans Assistance Project (VAP). Along with a Legal Aid attorney, she established a structure for students to more easily and regularly complete the needed work. She created documents to be used and replicated, quick references for students on each step of the process, and established connections with local practioners to ensure continuity of service. She identified Military Sexual Trauma (MST) cases as a particular need, and developed a network and training materials to handle these cases. Gabrielle did all this, while volunteering herself assisting clients.  Because of her good work, she was hand-picked to take on the first MST case. These cases can present some of the most difficult advocacy issues, both because this area is comparatively new and because of the sensitive subject matter.  Not only was Gabrielle successful on behalf of her client, but she produced research and connections with a physician that specializes in MST care that will enable many more successes. Thinking longer term, Gabrielle created connections with UNC School of Law and NC Central University School of Law to broaden the scope of the project’s impact.

Additionally, Gabrielle took over the recently inactive student group Coalition Against Gendered Violence (CAGV), and focused in on two major components. Gabrielle created a pro bono project with the NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault, volunteering to provide assistance to college campus victims of sexual assault during the university adjudication hearings. The second prong of the Coalition’s work is addressing the needs of victims and survivors who are part of the Duke Law community.  Gabrielle’s hard work and dedication were instrumental in creating pro bono opportunities and community assistance that will long outlast her time at the law school.  As her nominator stated, “[w]ithout her focused efforts to work with Legal Aid and redesign our VAP program or to redesign our CAGV, we would likely have lost both projects.”

Gabrielle summed up her dedication best. “When people ask me why I am so involved in the community and put so much of my time towards service, it is an easy answer: people. While I have a busy schedule of two graduate degrees, Army ROTC, and a number of school and community activities, it never feels overwhelming because of the people.”


Derek Mergele

Texas Tech University School of Law


Derek is committed to solving LGBT issues.  As a 2L, he became president of Lavender Law, and used this platform to create an environment where students, faculty, lecturers and the community come together to discuss and advance the LGBT community.  His most significant contribution began with listening to the needs of this population. Since March, Derek has been working to establish a Gender Marker and Name Change Clinic at the law school. During his 2L year, members of the University’s Gay Straight Alliance approached Derek regarding several transgender student who needed help changing their identification documents. Derek was moved to create a service for his community that would help transgender individuals change their identification documents to match their gender identities. The Gender Marker Clinic was born, and in May had its first successful gender marker change. Derek is not only part of this community, but he is part of creating positive change for those around him.

One of Derek’s recommenders aptly summed him up this way: “In addition to a passion for service, Derek has true courage. He continually speaks out for the voiceless and champions the rights of the vulnerable. He never compromises his principles, but works to ensure that all individuals involved in a situation are heard and respected.”

Lilah Thompson

Temple University Beasley School of Law


The highlight of Lilah’s career at Temple Law was her creation, single-handedly, of a participatory workshop that simulates life as a refugee.  This community education event, called Between Borders: A Refugee Simulation, was held in March. Lilah, who recruited twenty-four volunteers to run the project under her direction, sought to change the narrative about how we view “the other.” Between Borders depicted five stages of the refugee experience: persecution, fleeing to and living in a refugee camp, the resettlement process, life in the Unites States, and becoming a U.S. citizen. Nearly sixty participants placed themselves in “the shoes of a refugee” in order to gain understanding of the refugee experience.  In the discussions afterward, many people were already beginning to talk about creative solutions to the problem of stigmatization, and explore other ways they could provide help to their refugee community.

One of Lilah’s collaborators explained the impact this way: “This exceptionally comprehensive, thorough, and impactful program was a feat of organization. Given the state of public discourse around refugees, it was also a crucial intervention both for participants and for other Philadelphia residents who learned about the simulation from news coverage. Lilah worked tirelessly to ensure that every detail of the simulation was as compelling and accurate as possible, and succeeded at creating a model workshop.”


Sahar MoazamiFordham University School of Law

In just two years devoted more than 1,000 hours to volunteering and creating pro bono opportunities for others.

Nadia Anguiano-Wehde, University of Minnesota Law School

Developed an alternate spring break trip to Texas to the Dilley family detention center.

Sean Brucker, Maurice A. Dean School of Law at Hofstra University 

Served the Korean American community through grassroots organizing, education and advocacy that addresses immigration policies.

John BruningUniversity of Minnesota Law School

Created an alternate spring break trip to the Dilley family detention center and launched the Law School’s chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

Tristen Edwards, New York University School of Law

Worked tirelessly to combat systems of excessive punishments and to seek alternatives.

Michael Ludvik, Texas Tech University School of Law

Worked with veterans, children, and the homeless, and creating and implementing Paul’s Project.

Monica Valencia, University of San Francisco School of Law

Assisted the immigrant community, especially through her volunteer project with Justice Now.


October Pro Bono Events! *Updated 10/17*

Hi everyone, this post will be continuously updated as I receive more information about how law schools are celebrating and highlighting pro bono work throughout the month of October.

Image Courtesy of University at Buffalo School of Law Facebook

Image Courtesy of University at Buffalo School of Law Facebook

University at Buffalo School of Law

  • Pro Bono Table Days – Tuesday, October 25th and Wednesday, October 26th; 11 AM – 3 PM O’Brian Lobby

“Need a summer job?

Thinking about an externship next semester?

Graduating and need pro bono hours?

In recognition of the National Celebration of Pro Bono, come meet employers from public interest organizations from around the WNY region. Most of these volunteer opportunities qualify for externships (for credit) during the academic year or for BPILP’s funding during the summer; and fulfill the 50-hour pro bono requirement for admission to the bar in NYS.”

photo courtesy of Capital University Law School Facebook

Image courtesy of Capital University Law School Facebook

Capital University Law School

  • Food Drive to Benefit M.A.S.H. Pantry – All week, October 23rd – 29th

“The Military and Service Heroes Pantry is a Non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable food pantry serving Veterans, Armed Forces, their families and survivors of the Columbus Metropolitan area. Place your donations in the blue bins located in the Commons and in the back lobby.”

  • Giving Back in the Real World – Fulfilling Your Ethical Obligation of Pro Bono Service – Wednesday, October 26th, 12 – 1 PM, Room A121

“Pack your lunch and join us for an informative an important panel discussion made up of Capital law Alumni.”

Register by emailing

  • Low Income Wills Clinic for Veterans – Wednesday, October 26th, 4 – 5 PM Mandatory Training Room A122; 5:30 – 7:30 PM Wills Clinic Huntington Commons

“Join us for a Low Income Wills Clinic for Veterans. There will be limited spots available, so please sign up soon. You will be matched with an attorney to help veterans complete essential estate planning documents. NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE NECESSARY- 1Ls MAY PARTICIPATE!

NOTE: If you are unable to make the clinic but still want to get involved in helping our veterans, we will be having an Advance Directives Workshop on Monday October 26th from 6:00 PM- 7:00 PM in Room A122.  You will learn how to complete Living Wills and Healthcare Power of Attorneys by Marcia Palof of Legal Aid, and you will actually get to prepare the documents afterwards in advance of the clinic on Wednesday night! This is a great opportunity for experiential learning at its finest.”

Register by emailing and indicate if you’re registering for the workshop OR the clinic.

  • Representing Servicemembers: Understanding Their Service is Essential to Understanding Their Case – Friday, October 28th, 12 – 1 PM Room A121/122, Lunch will be provided.

“Join us for a Military Focused CLE!” Speaker: Michael D. McCarthy Executive Director, Operation Legal Help Ohio

Register by emailing

Boston College Law School


Image courtesy of Boston College Law Instagram

  • Public Interest Designation & Pro Bono Nuts and Bolts – Thursday, October 13th, 12 – 1 PM

“Join us to learn about the Public Interest Designation Program and Pro Bono Program at BC Law. What are these programs? How do you participate in them? What requirements must you complete before graduation? 1Ls, 2Ls and 3Ls, all your questions will be answered at this program!”

  • Pro Bono Fair – Thursday, October 13th, 3 – 5 PM

“Come meet local pro bono organizations, learn about upcoming opportunities, sign the BC Law pro bono pledge and learn how to log your pro bono hours!”


Elon University School of Law

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

  • Ask-a-Lawyer – Saturday, October 22nd, 10 AM – 1 PM

“The Elon Law Pro Bono Board and the Alamance County Bar Association are co-sponsoring an Ask-a-Lawyer Day event at the Ebenezer Center, 734 Apple Street, in Burlington. Members of the community will be able to walk in and receive free legal advice from a volunteer attorney about any legal issue except immigration matters. Volunteer attorneys will be assisted by law students during the event.”

  • Immigration Law Panel: “The Need for Pro Bono Asylum Assistance in North Carolina” – Monday, October 24th,

“Professor Heather Scavone, Director of Elon Law’s Humanitarian & Immigration Law Clinic, will moderate a panel with Elizabeth Collins of United Guaranty and Jessica Yanez, an Elon Law alum with Yanez Immigration Law here in Greensboro. The discussion will focus on how pro bono assistance could increase the number of asylum cases that can be handled by NC attorneys, and how law students might be able to participate, especially through research in support of country conditions reports.”

  • Law Panel: “From Pro Bono to Public Interest” – Tuesday, October 25,

“[C]omprised of public interest attorneys (one from legal Aid’s Greensboro office, one from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and one from the Guilford County Public Defender’s office) who will discuss their decisions to work in public interest and the need for pro bono support from students and other lawyers.

  • Food Truck Fundraiser – TBD

More information to follow.



*Guest Post* Equal Justice Works Student Rep. Program

Below is a message from previous PSJD Fellow Ashley Matthews:

Image courtesy of Equal Justice Works

Image courtesy of Equal Justice Works

Equal Justice Works, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to mobilizing the next generation of public interest lawyers, just launched the 2016-17 Student Representative program!

Open to second-semester 1Ls, 2Ls, and 3Ls at Equal Justice Works member law schools, the Student Representative Program will help law students gain public interest law leadership experience while spreading the word about public interest law and Equal Justice Works on their campus.

Equal Justice Works Student Representatives are future public interest attorneys who want to support public interest law initiatives on their campus. They are the leadership division of Equal Justice Works’ JDs for Justice Network, and get the chance to connect directly with Equal Justice Works and our Fellows while assisting like-minded law school colleagues in having their voices heard.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, please tell them to apply ASAP! Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but preferred applicants will be selected by October 14th. For more info, please email us at or visit our Student Justice Center.


2016 Pro Bono Publico Award Finalists!

After a record breaking 39 nominations, there are ten finalists for the 2016 Pro Bono Publico Award. They are listed below in alphabetical order.

Photo courtesy of Leyala A. via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Leyala A. via Flickr

  • Nadia Anguiano-Wehde, University of Minnesota Law School
  • Sean Brucker, Hofstra Law
  • John Bruning, University of Minnesota Law School
  • Tristen Edwards, NYU School of Law
  • Gabrielle Lucero, Duke University School of Law
  • Michael ‘Miz’ Ludvik, Texas Tech University School of Law
  • Derek Mergle, Texas Tech University School of Law
  • Sahar Moazami, Fordham University School of Law
  • Lilah Thompson, Temple University Beasley School of Law
  • Monica Valencia, University of San Francisco School of Law

Congratulations to all of the finalists and all of the students who were recognized by their law schools for their tremendous contributions to pro bono work. We look forward to having even more nominations next year. The winner and merit distinction recipients will be announced during National Pro Bono Week.


Help fight voter suppression.

The Washington Council of Lawyers hosts its first installment of the popular Racial Justice Series on Tuesday, September 22 beginning at 6:30 pm at White & Case here in DC. This program, co-sponsored by the Women’s Bar Association will explore barriers to voters and how to combat voter suppression.  This program is open to law students.

Register now!



Calling All Pro Bono Publico Award Nominations!

Photo By Moyan Brenn - CC-By-2.0

Photo By Moyan Brenn – CC-By-2.0

NALP is currently seeking nominations for the 2016 PSJD Pro Bono Publico Award. Any 2L or 3L who attends a PSJD subscriber school and has significant pro bono contributions is eligible for nomination. The deadline is Wednesday, August 31 at 5pm EST. Nomination packets should include the nomination form, nominee’s resume, and a nomination statement. Find complete details, including the Nomination Form, on PSJD’s Pro Bono Publico Award page.


Will you be interning in DC this summer and want to know about post-graduate fellowship?

NALP, the Washington Council of Lawyers, and Georgetown University Law Center is co-sponsoring Fellowships 101 on Wednesday, July 13, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm in the Hart Auditorium of McDonough Hall at Georgetown Unviersity Law Center (600 New Jersey Avenue NW). RSVP by clicking here.

Public-interest fellowships offer a unique combination of substantive responsibility, training, and the chance to make meaningful contributions at the very start of your legal career.  But, too often, law students may overlook or not be aware of the wide variety of postgraduate public interest fellowships that are available. That’s why we encourage all law students to attend Fellowships 101: An Introduction to Postgraduate Fellowships,where our panel of experts will provide an overview of public interest fellowships and tips on negotiating the application process for maximum chances of success.

Our discussion will be moderated by Christina Jackson, Director of Public Service Initiatives and Fellowships at the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), and the panel will include:

  • Ella Holman (Associate Manager, Education and Outreach, Partnership for Public Service)
  • Oscar Lopez (Skadden Fellow, The Advancement Project)
  • Erin Loubier (Senior Director of Medical-Legal Integration, Whitman-Walker Health)
  • Sterling Morriss (Senior Manager of Fellowships, Equal Justice Works)

The program is free for our members, and costs just $5 for non-members. (Join Washington Council of Lawyers now.) We’ll serve light refreshments at the start of the evening, and provide the opportunity for mixing, mingling, and asking additional questions at the conclusion of the formal program.

We hope to see you there!


Don’t Miss! Free Law Student Training: Post-graduate Fellowships 2.0 – April 11, 2016

Check out the following message from So Cal Pro Bono Managers:

So Cal Pro Bono Managers announces Post-graduate Fellowships 2.0, a free one-hour web-based training for law students, to be held Monday, April 11, 2016 at 12 noon PST (3 PM EST).

Since it’s web-based, law students can watch the training and participate from any location.

This is a free training opportunity for law students who plan to apply for post-graduate fellowships in their 3L year, offering tips and strategies for locating a fellowship that matches the student’s interests, developing a fellowship project, identifying a host organization and completing a successful application.

The training will be facilitated by OneJustice in a webinar format, which, again, enables students to access the training live on their laptops from remote locations and to ask their questions.

To register, go to

Training panelists are David Daniels of Public Counsel, Rachel Kronick Rothbart of USC Gould School of Law and Pamela Marx of Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc. They hope to offer multiple perspectives on the fellowship application process. Coordinating Committee members are Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc., OneJustice, Public Counsel, Southwestern Law School and USC Gould School of Law.


DC Event: FTC Legal Services Quarterly Brownbag

Check out the following message from the Federal Trade Commission:

The FTC will host a Legal Services Quarterly Brownbag at 12:30pm on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at the FTC’s offices in the Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW, Washington, DC 20001, Room 10102. We hold these meetings to discuss what is happening at the FTC that may be of interest to the legal services community. We also want to hear from you as well. If you have consumer protection concerns you would like to raise, new issues or trends you are seeing, any consumer outreach or education campaigns, or any other items you wish to share—please let us know.

On the agenda for this upcoming brownbag is the DeVry University case the agency filed on January 27, 2016, as well as recent cases we’ve brought to put a stop to fraudulent diploma mills.  We will also talk about policy changes and upcoming events at the FTC.

Please send your RSVP to Tracey Thomas at We also hope you won’t hesitate to contact Tracey Thomas (, Monica Vaca (, or Patti Poss (, with any questions or input.

Note that the Constitution Center is conveniently located at the L’Enfant Plaza metro station, which services the yellow, green, blue, and orange metro lines.  Leaving the metro via the “7th and D” exit will let you out right at the Constitution Center.  Please give yourself time to get through the security line.


Meet the Jolly Good Fellows – Washington Council of Lawyers

Check out the following message from our friends at the Washington Council of Lawyers:

Public-interest fellowships enable recent law-school graduates to practice law with nonprofit organizations, the government, educational institutions, and sometimes even law firms. But there are so many different fellowship opportunities that learning about and choosing among them can be a real challenge.

We’ll aim to help solve this problem at Meet the Jolly Good Fellows, where you’ll get to meet a diverse group of current and former public-interest fellows. The event takes place on Monday, April 4, from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at Kirkland & Ellis (655 15th Street, NW).

To learn more and register, you can click here.
This business-casual event is free for our members and $5 for non-members, with a one-year Washington Council of Lawyers membership included in the price of admission.

We hope to see you on April 4th for a jolly good discussion about fellowships!