Cynthia Lucero of the Texas Civil Rights Project [far left] and Associate Director for Pro Bono Projects Meryl Benham (’06) [far right] with Pro Bono Spring Break participants.
Last month, eight Texas Tech Law students participated in Pro Bono Spring Break sponsored by the State Bar of Texas.
Pro Bono Spring Break provides structured opportunities for pro bono work at a legal services organization during spring break. Students complete all tasks assigned by their placement supervisor during the workweek.
Under the direction of Meryl Benham (’06), Associate Director for Pro Bono Projects, this is the first year that Texas Tech Law students can earn credit toward the new Texas Tech Law Pro Bono Program for hours performed during spring break and through other placements. The State Bar is also seeking to encourage more pro bono work at the law school level and recently expanded its Pro Bono College membership to law students.
This year, Texas Tech Law students were placed with the Texas Civil Rights Project in Odessa and with legal aid clinics in both Midland and Odessa. At the Texas Civil Rights Project, attorney Cassie Champion tasked students with various projects such as drafting discovery and complaints, performing legal research, and preparing memos summarizing their findings. Most of the subject matter at the Texas Civil Rights Project involved veterans’ and disability rights issues while the clinics focused on legal topics such as immigration, veterans’ rights, and broader poverty law issues.
“The Pro Bono Spring Break trip made legal work very tangible for me early in my career,” said Anna Acosta (’16), one of the students who participated this year. “As law students, we are committed to upholding social justice. The program was a very rewarding opportunity to fulfill that obligation.”
Several other participants applauded the program for its hands-on training and realistic exposure to pro bono work.
“Pro Bono Spring Break was an insightful experience,” said Sydne Collier (’16). “It really instilled how important pro bono services are to our clients, who are exceedingly thankful for our willingness to listen and to help with their legal issues.”
Benham hopes that the Tech Law Pro Bono Program can partner with the Equal Justice Center to help sponsor an immigration clinic in Lubbock this fall. She is also working to help organize a wills and trusts clinic and hopes to implement a similar pro bono trip in the fall semester.
“Above all, I’m working to grow the program and raise student awareness about the importance of pro bono work,” Benham said. “I want to nurture the law school’s relationships with legal services organizations and tailor opportunities for students who are interested in pro bono work.”