Will pro bono work engage law students in public service?
Navigating our nation’s legal systems can be confusing and costly; many who need legal support must rely on pro bono attorneys. Columbia’s Pro Bono Caravans, a Social Justice Initiative at the Law School, connects law students to dozens of pro bono organizations nationally and globally, turning students’ spring breaks into immersions in public service.
Over 90 students last March worked with 18 organizations around the country. They tackled a range of issues, from combatting excessive criminalization of people of color in Missouri to advising pregnant minors in Texas on reproductive rights to running estate clinics in Wisconsin with Native American communities. Students have also worked with Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Jordan, interviewing torture victims who seek asylum.
Many students describe their Caravan experiences as personally and professionally transformative; some have been inspired to pursue public interest careers and join the social justice organizations they once supported as students.