DO: Engage in Public Interest/Social Justice Work
The Access to Justice Institute prepares students for a lifetime in law in furtherance of social justice. We believe that the best way to develop real lawyering skills, understand community needs, connect classroom learning to real-world problems, and meet practicing attorneys is to get hands-on experience. Through ATJI you can find ways to get involved not only within the walls of Sullivan Hall but also out in the larger equal justice community of Washington and the nation.
Volunteer and Pro Bono Opportunities
Need to Find an Opportunity?
- Visit the ATJI Blog! Our blog is updated frequently with featured volunteer opportunities, internships, fellowships, events, and resources.
- Talk to ATJI! Staff members are available to help you identify the best types of opportunities for you. Please contact Kerri Kline, firstname.lastname@example.org, to make an appointment.
- Pledge Pro Bono! Take the Pro Bono Pledge and you will not only get recognized for the contributions you are making but will also get periodic updates about ways to get engaged and learn more.
Want to Learn More about Ways to Get Involved in the Community?
Clinics, externships, internships, volunteer projects.... The terminology can be confusing but the goals are the same: these are all opportunities to expand your learning beyond the classroom and work directly with community members in need of assistance. Here are a few common ways to engage, through ATJI or otherwise:
- ATJI Partnership Projects: ATJI in conjunction with community organizations hosts several Partnership Projects including the Moderate Means Program, Foreclosure Mediation & Outreach Project, and Seattle University Youth Initiative Projects, WAACO Microenterprise Clinic and Immigrant Detainee Justice Project. Through these projects you will volunteer, often on-campus, alongside several other SU law students.
- Internships and Volunteer Projects: Volunteer directly with legal aid organizations, public sector agencies, or other community organizations (internships usually mean you are there regularly for an extended period of time). The ATJI Blog is a great resource to find public interest and social opportunities - volunteer and paid!
- Student Organizations: Several law school student organizations, such as the Incarcerated Mothers Advocacy Project (IMAP), the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IMAP), and Street Youth Law Advocates of Washington (SYLAW-SU), provide legal information and assistance in the community.
- Externship Program: Earn academic credit for supervised legal work at a court, nonprofit, state or federal agency, or non-governmental organization while learning from a seminar at the same time.
- Law Clinic: Represent clients under faculty supervision for credit working at the law schools 'law firm'.
Not sure what type of opportunity is right for you? Please visit the Pro Bono Pledge Program's FAQs on "Finding Opportunities" for more tips on how to find a good fit.
SCHOLARS FOR JUSTICE
Seattle University School of Law offers two Scholars for Justice Scholarships each year, which allows students who have proven their dedication to public interest to earn their degrees without incurring the debt that is often an obstacle in choosing such a career. These scholars make a commitment to devote much of their careers to public interest law or to donate to the law school's scholarship fund an amount at least equal to the scholarship should their career path change. The Access to Justice Institute supports these Scholars in their career paths toward public interest by providing mentorship, networking opportunities, and leadership development programming throughout their time at the School of Law.
Student Organizations = Student Leadership Opportunities
The Access to Justice Institute works closely with student organizations that conduct pro bono work or community service projects. ATJI provides strategic planning support, troubleshooting assistance, and guidance in identifying community needs and partners in order to ensure that student organizations are having the most impact possible.
Since 2009, Seattle University School of Law has offered Social Justice Post-Graduate Fellowships to SU law graduates, providing opportunities for new lawyers to work shoulder-to-shoulder with underserved and disadvantaged populations, or in other endeavors that promote social justice. Click here to learn more about the Leadership for Justice Fellowship and other post-graduate fellowship opportunities.
Leadership in the Equal Justice Community
The Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) offers a variety of leadership opportunities for students. Law students are welcome to join any of the Washington Young Lawyers Division's committees which include the Public Service/Pro Bono Committee. Law students can also get involved with other WSBA committees, boards, task forces and sections.
Students interested in social justice should also know about the Washington Access to Justice (ATJ) Board, established by Washington Supreme Court Order in 1994 to achieve equal access to the civil justice system for those facing economic and other significant barriers. The ATJ Board accomplishes much of its work through its many committees, including the Justice without Barriers Committee, the Law School Relations Committee, and Technology Committee. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Kerri Kline at email@example.com.
Nationally, students can get involved by serving on boards like the Equal Justice Works National Advisory Committee. The National Advisory Committee provides a way to guide and advance the organization's goal of having students develop a lifelong commitment to working on behalf of underrepresented individuals, communities and causes.
Please don't hesitate to meet with us if you'd like to hear more or share how you are engaged in social justice!