Practical Opportunities at YLS, Continued

April 1, 2013

W.Z., 1L

I would like to expand upon a couple of Student Perspectives blog posts regarding practical training at YLS. In addition to the plethora of clinics offered at the Law School, students can participate in simulated trial and courtroom situations in courses such as Trial Practice and in activities such as Mock Trial and Moot Court. In this entry, I am going to reflect on another hands-on student activity: the Pro Bono Network (PBN). [Ed. note: PBN changed its name to Public Interest Volunteer Opportunities or PIVO in 2017.]

The PBN is a clearinghouse for public interest projects and research opportunities, where interested students are matched with national public interest organizations in need of pro bono assistance. The YLS student, or team of students, works closely with attorneys and staff at partner organizations on discrete projects whose durations range from a few weeks to several months. The PBN is thus an incredible opportunity to not only hone research and writing skills outside the classroom, but also to develop professional contacts with public interest organizations for whom a student may be interested in working in the future.

In the past, students have worked on several exciting projects through the PBN, some of which include drafting proposed legislation, investigating causes of action in cases of agricultural slavery, and participating in litigation efforts regarding abuse of immigrants. This term, I have worked on two great projects: the first involved researching unjust enrichment and conversion claims in a False Claims Act case, and the second entailed conducting case studies on immigration reform efforts in several localities in the United States.

In sum, the PBN – in addition to the formal clinical opportunities and trial practice offered at YLS – is a great way to engage with real-life projects where you can see real results immediately. And the best part – at least for me – is that you can have these experiences while simultaneously taking highly abstract, intellectually demanding, and satisfying seminars.