Students at Hofstra have the opportunity to perform volunteer legal work with public interest organizations, courts, government and regulatory agencies, nonprofit organizations, private firms working on pro bono cases, and with professors working on public interest cases. Through their pro bono work, students are able to take part in many aspects of legal work, including research and writing, assisting in case preparation and performing client intake. Practice areas in which students volunteer include a wide range of areas of law such as criminal, environmental, civil rights, elder, family, matrimonial, housing and immigration. All legal work is done under the supervision of an attorney. Examples of student placements include: Nassau County Legal Aid Society, New York State Attorney General’s Office, CARECEN (Central American Refugee Center), Nassau/Suffolk Law Services Committee, Inc., Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Legal Aid Society Juvenile Rights Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office and Mediation Alternative Project.
The Director of Public Sector Career Planning assists students seeking pro bono work and has developed a Public Interest Job Search Guide geared to students and alumni who wish to pursue jobs and volunteer opportunities in the public sector. In addition, students and alumni of Hofstra University School of Law make use of PSLawNet (Public Service Law Network Worldwide), a computer database of nearly 12,000 law related public service organizations and offices in the United States and abroad. Hofstra’s membership in PSLawNet enables law students and alumni to be matched with placements based upon their own areas of interest, levels of experience and geographical preferences.
Domestic Violence Courtroom Advocates Program (CAP)
This student group provides assistance to the victims of domestic violence who are seeking protective orders in local Family Courts. Volunteers receive training and assistance from staff attorneys at Sanctuary for Families.
Equal Justice Works
Hofstra University School of Law is a member of Equal Justice Works. Hofstra’s membership provides Hofstra law students with access to numerous benefits such as access to the Members Only content on the Equal Justice Works web site. Equal Justice Works (formerly the National Association for Public Interest Law) was founded in 1986 by law students dedicated to surmounting barriers to equal justice that affect millions of low-income individuals and families. Today, Equal Justice Works organizes, trains, and supports public service-minded law students and creates summer and post-graduate public interest jobs. Equal Justice Works also sponsors a Summer Corps.
Pro Bono Net
Students are made aware of pro bono opportunities available through Pro Bono Net, a nonprofit organization headquartered in New York City whose mission is to increase access to justice through innovative uses of technology and increased volunteer participation.
Hofstra University school of Law is a member of PSLawNet, a global network of more than 120 member law schools and over 12,000 law-related public service organizations and offices around the world. Thousands of organizations nationwide list paid and unpaid internships, post-graduate jobs, fellowships, and pro bono opportunities on the PSLawNet database.
Public Justice Foundation (PJF)
The Public Justice Foundation (PJF) is the Law School’s Public Interest Law Student Organization. The objectives of PJF are to raise awareness about public sector law practice by facilitating student employment in the area and to expose the Law School community to important legal issues through debate and discussion.
The PJF holds various fundraisers, including the annual service auction. The auction is the principal fundraiser, and all of the money raised provides summer fellowships for Hofstra Law students. These fellowships enable the recipients to take nonpaying jobs in the public sector that they otherwise would be unable to accept due to financial constraints.
Public Justice Foundation also has sponsored debates on prisoners’ rights and the policy and constitutionality of “hate crimes” and works with other organizations to co-sponsor lectures and programs to benefit Hofstra law students.
Public Service Certificate Program
This program recognizes students for volunteering, under the supervision of an attorney and without pay or credit, with: (1) nonprofit organizations that provide legal representation to individuals or groups who are underserved, under-represented or of limited means; (2) government agencies; or (3) attorneys providing legal services free of charge or at significantly reduced cost. In addition, volunteer hours with Hofstra Law School student groups that advocate on behalf of clients, such as the Courtroom Advocates Program (CAP) and for groups that provide legal education, such as the Street Law Project or PAD’s GoldieLocks program, count toward the Certificate.
The pro bono student organization Street Law enables law students to interact with high school students, teen parents, juvenile delinquents, or other community members and teach them the basics of law and human rights necessary for survival in our law-saturated society. The curriculum may include case studies, role-plays, small group exercises, and visual analysis activities. This methodology allows the citizens to take an active role in their own education while bringing about a greater sense of justice, tolerance and fairness. Ultimately, Street Law aims to develop a citizen’s willingness and ability to resolve disputes through informal (non-judicial) and, where necessary, formal mechanisms. Street Law has worked with Planned Parenthood of Nassau County’s Sharing and Caring Project to teach teen parents about their legal right and responsibilities.
Unemployment Action Center (U.A.C.)
In August 1991 Hofstra University School of Law established a chapter of the Unemployment Action Center (U.A.C.). The U.A.C. is a nonprofit, student-run organization that offers free advice and representation to persons denied unemployment benefits. Volunteers have the opportunity to represent clients and argue before an administrative law judge. Hofstra is one of only 6 area law schools to have a U.A.C. chapter and is the only U.A.C. chapter outside of Manhattan. Hofstra U.A.C. received the New York State Bar Association Law Student Pro Bono Award for 1992.