Elon Law Pro Bono Project Descriptions
Below is a list of projects ongoing at Elon Law. We strive to offer a diverse range of pro bono volunteer opportunities - whether presented to students by either the Pro Bono Board or other student organizations - and project availability is subject to change. All opportunities offered to students are done so with the help and support of licensed attorneys and/or other organizations that provide free or reduced cost licensed legal services to members of the public with a demonstrated need.
If you are in need of legal assistance, we ask that you work through the sponsoring organizations or see our Legal Help for the Public page.
Guardian Ad Litem
Second- and third-year Elon Law students are eligible to participate in the Guardian ad Litem program. GAL volunteers serve as court-appointed advocates and the voice for children in the juvenile court system. The children we work with have been abused and/or neglected by their parents and are in the custody of the local Department of Health and Human Services. GALs conduct an independent investigation into the circumstances of these children’s lives, facilitate their needs being met by helping locate community resources, and advocate that those services be put into place. Advocates attend court hearings on behalf of the child to report to the court what is in the child’s best interest concerning their life. This process continues until these children are out of the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services and into a safe, permanent home. GALs visit with the child once per month and make contact on a regular basis with the other pertinent people in their life to help advocate for their best interest. Most GALs spend 8-12 hours per month performing their duties as a court-appointed advocate. The time spent volunteering is flexible and built around the GAL’s schedule. GALs in Guilford County must commit to serve for the life of a child’s court case, which averages 24 months.
The process of becoming a GAL volunteer includes an application (completed on the GAL website), background check, interview, and 30-hour training. To learn more about the program visit www.volunteerforgal.org
Guilford County Teen Court
The Guilford County Teen Court works as an alternative to juvenile court. It prevents youth from developing a juvenile criminal records and is specifically designed for children 8-17, who are first time offenders with misdemeanor charges. Youth referred to Teen Court admit responsibility for their charged offenses and are sentenced by a jury consisting of other children. Typical offenses in Teen Court include communicating threats, larceny, driving offenses, assault, and drug and alcohol possession, among others. Teen Court is an alternative to juvenile court because it allows for more rehabilitative options for first-time offenders. Teen Court is held in Guilford County three times per month on Tuesday nights. Law students have the opportunity to work with the Teen Court by serving as a judge, an attorney, an exit interviewer, or as a clerk. Teen Court is a great opportunity to learn more about the juvenile justice system, as well as to get court experience and further oral advocacy skills.
The Elon Law Hospice Project works with Hospice of Randolph County, a nonprofit hospice organization, to provide patients with advanced directives. Volunteers provide a service to individuals in great need and perform a function Hospice is unable to provide on a regular basis. Volunteers can expect to learn how to prepare Advanced Directives including: Living Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Health Care Powers of Attorney. Along with this, volunteers can expect to gain practical experience working with clients by outlining each option available to the clients and explaining what those options entail. Trainings are offered semiannually, with trainings currently scheduled in the summer and fall.
The Innocence Project operates as an independent student organization that partners with the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence. Students work on initial case reviews for individuals who have exhausted their appeals and are currently unrepresented, preparing a review memo and transcript summary seeking new, unexplored evidence that may exonerate the individual.
The tax clinic is a great way to give back to the community and provide low- income individuals the opportunity to get their tax returns done for free. The tax clinic completed more than 650 tax returns in 2016. This is an innovative way to provide experimental learning to Elon Law students who want to work alongside a professional organization like the AARP.
Lawyer on the Line
Working in conjunction with Legal Aid, students screen potential clients to determine whether they have valid legal issues. The student conducts the initial client interview, and if the case progresses, there is an opportunity to research issues, and contact the client with the findings agreed upon by the supervising attorney. This is great for client interview skills, explaining legal concepts to the client researching legal issues, and learning how to manage a deadline
Country Conditions Report Project
The Country Conditions Report Project is focused on uncovering recent social and political attitudes and treatment of oppressed persons around the world. This project is intended to aid attorneys and organizations seeking to secure asylum for clients who would otherwise be oppressed or persecuted in their home nations. Students will research and compile a report within a three-week period for a potential maximum of 30 pro bono hours. This project offers a unique opportunity to gain exposure to and experience in areas of international law, immigration law, LGBT law, criminal law and others.
Elon Law partners with state and local bar associations, the NCBA’s Young Lawyers Division, Legal Aid, and other professional groups to support or host occasional walk-in legal help programs. In October 2012, Elon Law hosted its first Ask-A-Lawyer Day in conjunction with Legal Aid of Greensboro during the American Bar Association's Celebrate Pro Bono Week. In Fall 2016, we partnered with the Alamance County Bar Association for the event, and will continue to do so in the future. Elon Law professors and students have organized Wills for Heroes events at the school, and they continue to keep in contact with event organizers regarding future events. Additionally, Elon Law students have assisted the Young Lawyers Division and North Carolina Bar Association in support of the annual 4ALL call-in legal assistance program each March.