Pro Bono Opportunities
The projects listed here are just a sampling of the many opportunities to perform pro bono work and earn pro bono hours.
ACLU of GA/National Security/Immigrants' Rights Project
The ACLU of Georgia's National Security/Immigrants' Rights Project aims to bring Georgia and its localities into compliance with international human rights standards in treatment of refugee and immigrant communities in Georgia, including immigrant detainees. To that end, we employ a variety of strategies, including development of impact litigation, legislative advocacy, human rights documentation and publishing of reports, and public education.
There are both short-term and long-term projects available. For example, students may assist with documenting racial profiling by taking testimonies at one-day anti-racial profiling forums. Students may also assist with ad hoc legal research projects. Spanish-speaking students are particularly encouraged to apply.
If interested, please contact Azadeh Shahshahani at email@example.com.
Asian American Legal Advocacy Center (AALAC) of GA
The Asian American Legal Advocacy Center, Inc. (AALAC) of Georgia is the first non-profit law center focused on Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Asian-ethnic refugees (“Asian Americans”) in the Southeast. AALAC’s mission is to protect and promote the civil, social and economic rights of Asian Americans in Georgia and the Southeast through public policy, community organizing, legal work and leadership development. AALAC was formed in the spring of 2010 in response to Asian Americans wanting a stronger voice and presence in the state’s civic, social and political power structures.
Due to our exponential growth in Georgia, Asian Americans will have access to new political powers and legal rights that were not previously available. The Asian American population in Georgia has tripled over the past two decades and makes up the second fastest growing Asian American community in the United States. Legal rights such as translated ballots at voting sites, language access for government services, and other protections are triggered by the high concentration of Asian Americans in certain parts of Georgia.
Law student volunteers may help with research, development and writing of one or more of the following:
- Research federal immigration laws as well as local immigration policies; develop a ‘white paper’ on immigration reform as it relates to Georgia’s unique immigrant population and economic landscape;
- Research, write and present a summary of the history of US immigration law, including laws that excluded Asian immigrants like the Chinese Exclusion Act;
- Interview and collect community member stories around various issues including environmental racism, immigration, worker rights, and other social justice issues;
- Assist and participate in community events and speaking engagements.
Interested students should contact:
Helen Kim Ho, Esq.
Asian American Legal Advocacy Center, Inc. (AALAC) of GeorgiaP.O. Box 2010Decatur, GA 404.585.8446 (Office)404.232.5219 (Direct) 30031 firstname.lastname@example.org
Georgia Appleseed - Heir Property Project
What is heir property?
Heir property involves the passing of a home or other real property across multiple generations outside of the official probate process. As title to a home becomes less clear and more fractioned across heirs, the risk of being forced out of the home by a legal action becomes greater. In addition, lack of clear title prevents access to wealth-generating tools commonly associated with land ownership.
Low-income rural African Americans across the South are disproportionately hurt by the heir property problem. Following recent hurricanes, many heir property dwellers learned they were ineligible to access recovery funds.
What is the Heir Property Project?
As the Cousins Fellow, Ms. Crystal Baker works with law students to deliver civil legal services to Georgians impacted by heir property issue. Attorneys from the Young Professionals Council (YPC) work with Ms. Baker in developing the project, offer substantive law expertise and mentoring to students, facilitate the creation of a statewide collaborative among interested entities and oversee planning for the post-fellowship phase of the project.
How can law students help?
Starting now, students can help research potential heir property and earn pro bonos hours from home by through online searches of county databases. The search procedure is straightforward and well-defined, with no special knowledge of real estate issues required, so this is a great project for students of all levels.
In 2010, there may be opportunities for students to work in conjunction with YPC attorneys on more substantive title and deed research and in developing cases.
Where do I learn more?
Read more about the Heir Property Project on their website. There, you may also download Heir Property in Georgia, a handbook on heir property. Produced by YPC in conjunction with the UGA School of Law Cousins Public Interest Fellowship, the manual provides a concise overview of issues affecting heir property owners in Georgia.
Election Protection, the nation’s largest non-partisan voter protection coalition, is led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the NAACP, the National Bar Association, and People For the American Way Foundation. Election Protection guides voters through the voting process, helping to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast a meaningful ballot and have their vote counted.
Election Protection is a resource for all Americans and the program centers on traditionally disenfranchised communities including: African Americans, Latinos, and other racial, ethnic, and language minorities; seniors; young people; low-income voters; and individuals with disabilities. The Election Protection Legal Committee in Georgia brings these programs to the state.
Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR)
Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) is a statewide organization that educates and organizes Latinos in their own communities regarding laws and customs that impact their daily survival in the United States. GLAHR utilizes community organizing as a tool to develop grassroots leadership in different Latino immigrant communities in GA.
Through its Our Voices Project, GLAHR documents cases of discrimination, racial profiling, and detention under 287(g), an ICE program that allows a state or local law enforcement entity to receive authority for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions. This type of documentation is very important because many human rights violations are not reported. GLAHR is seeking research assistance from law students at Emory University to help produce a well-documented report on the impact of 287(g) in Georgia, using the qualitative and quantitative data collected by GLAHR. The report will be made available to the public and will support human rights work on immigration in GA.
In Georgia, the anti-immigrant sentiment is very strong. Low-income Latino immigrants in the Southeast are routinely the targets of wage theft, racial profiling and other abuses driven by an anti-immigrant climate that harms all Latinos regardless of their immigration status. GLAHR’s vision of social change is to create a community that upholds democratic values, an anti-oppression framework (which of course remains open to evolving) and provides opportunities for those communities that are most marginalized by the current power structure. In order to implement this vision, we believe it is important to raise consciousness and educate the larger community about our issues.
If you are interested, please contact Adelina Nicholls anicholls(at)glahr.org
Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network (GAIN)
Pro bono asylum cases are referred to the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network (formerly the Atlanta Bar Asylum Project) which in turn refers cases to volunteer attorneys from private firms. Cases may involve accompanying clients to interviews with asylum officers or representing clients at asylum merit hearings. Additional referrals from the National Center for Refugee and Immigrant Children may involve volunteer attorneys in representation of immigrant children. Students will have the opportunity to work closely with the volunteer attorneys on these kinds of pro bono cases.
Latin American Association
The Latin American Association (LAA) helps Latino families achieve their aspirations for academic, social and economic advancement. We accomplish this through direct programs and integrated community partnerships that focus on youth academic achievement, education and prevention, and services to families with urgent needs.
The LAA is seeking law students to volunteer with our Immigration Services Department, which is based out of our Atlanta office on Buford Highway near Lenox. We handle family-based immigration, as well as represent immigrant victims of domestic violence and other crimes.
We are specifically seeking for law students with experience in public interest, and ideally with immigration law knowledge and Spanish skills, though this is not mandatory.
Renewal of Work Permit and Green Card
Adjustment of Status
V Visa and K Visa
Visa Packet – Consular Processing
Affidavit of Support
Replacement of Naturalization Document
Letter of Invitation
Certain Waiver Applications
Certain Cases with a Criminal Record Affecting Admissibility
Change of Address Notification to USCIS
Battered Spouse Petitions (VAWA)
U Visas for Victims of Crime
Hispanic Outreach Law Project
The Hispanic Outreach Law Project advises, refers and represents Spanish-speaking clients in the five-county metropolitan area that Atlanta Legal Aid Society serves. A Spanish Hotline is available for clients to speak directly with a person four half-days a week and to leave messages in their native language; a Spanish-speaking attorney and paralegal then screen these clients. The project continues the development of strong collaborative relationships with agencies that serve the Hispanic community and with the Spanish-speaking private attorneys who take cases on a pro bono basis. The project staff now speaks frequently on Spanish-language radio station programs.
Legal issues of particular interest to the project are access to the court system for domestic violence victims, access to public benefits for the Latino/Hispanic community, housing conditions, employment problems, educational services, and consumer issues, including fraud in home purchases and predatory lending.
One Client's Story
Ms. Perez, an El Salvadoran born resident, is the mother of six children, ages 17, 15, 12, 10, 7 and 5. ln addition to caring for her home and children, Ms. Perez works a full-time job as domestic worker. Ms. Perez was married to the father of her six children for more than fifteen years. Although he physically abused her, Ms. Perez persevered through the abuse in an effort to provide for her children.
The final straw came when Ms. Perez discovered that her husband was sexually molesting the female children. Ms. Perez speaks very little English and she was apprehensive about going to legal authorities. However, knowing she had to do something to protect her children, she fled from Georgia and took them to New York.
Ms. Perez lived several weeks in New York, but it was very difficult for her to make a living there. Moreover, her husband reported to the Georgia child protection agency that she abducted the children. The Georgia agency contacted the child protective services agency in New York to have it investigate Ms. Perez and the children. During the course of the investigation, the New York agency learned of the sexual molestation. It referred Ms. Perez for assistance to the appropriate state agency when she decided to move back to Georgia. As a result, Ms. Perez applied for and was granted a protective order by the Gwinnett County Superior Court on behalf of her and the children.
Subsequently, in an effort to obtain a divorce, Ms. Perez visited the Latin American Association (LAA), a non-profit Hispanic community agency. LAA referred Ms. Perez to the Project for assistance with the divorce. Project attorneys handled Ms. Perez's divorce, which granted her custody, denied visitation to the abusive father, and doubled the amount of child support. The father is now facing criminal charges relating to his sexual molestation of the female children.
How Can You Help?
Like the aforementioned client, all of our clients are deserving of the legal assistance that we provide. Unfortunately, we have limited resources and can use all available help. We can utilize any Spanish and/or English speaking volunteers from Emory University to interview clients, draft pleadings and research legal issues.
The supervising attorney is Donald Coleman. Students who would like to volunteer to assist with this Project and earn pro bono hours may reach Mr. Coleman at 404.377.0705 x235 or, in the alternative, they may call Yasmin Sobh at x234.
The Homeless Advocacy Project
Georgia Law Center for the Homeless - The Homeless Advocacy Project
The Georgia Law Center for the Homeless provides representation for homeless people in administrative and judicial proceedings of a civil nature, with attorneys and paralegals. The Law Center performs significant community outreach to make its services available by visiting homeless shelters, transitional housing, and community kitchens on a regular basis.
The Law Center’s mission is to provide free, quality civil legal services to homeless people and to play a leadership role in addressing the issues underlying homelessness.
The Homeless Advocacy Project
The Homeless Advocacy Project connects Emory Law students to volunteer opportunities with the Georgia Law Center for the Homeless. Students may contribute by performing legal research or working on birth certificate cases.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
About the Atlanta Prosperity Campaign
The Atlanta Prosperity Campaign (APC) was created as an initiative of the Atlanta Community Food Bank to connect working families and individuals to money-saving programs and existing benefits which will help them build and save for a brighter financial future.
As one of its many services, APC provides free income tax preparation assistance to eligible households as part of the IRS's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
Law students who participate as volunteer tax preparers will earn pro bono hours for their efforts.
The VITA Program offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income (generally, $49,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns. Certified volunteers sponsored by various organizations receive training to help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. Most locations also offer free electronic filing.
Prepare tax returns for taxpayers who qualify for VITA assistance. Tax returns are typically simple 1040 or 1040-EZ.
Answer taxpayers questions; referring taxpayers for additional assistance as necessary to local the IRS office, Low Income Tax Clinics (LITC), etc
VITA training session (6-8 hours; held in January)
Pass IRS certification test through Basic Level.
Strong computer skills.
Strong interpersonal and communication skills.
Good attention to detail
"Know Your Rights" Workshops
The Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic seeks student volunteers to participate in “Know Your Rights” workshops for at-risk youth and their families. Workshops focus primarily on the rights of youth with respect to dealings with the police and the juvenile court process. Interested students will work in conjunction with community organizations, public defenders, and the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council to create user-friendly materials and conduct several workshops in the community.
For more information, or to volunteer for this project, please contact: Randee Waldman, Managing Attorney, Juvenile Defender Clinic at email@example.com or 404.727.6235.
Students who participate in Street Law visit a high school classroom in Atlanta 3-4 times a semester and teach the students lessons about the law and provide mentoring and advice relating to career and educational goals. The program is open to ALL law students!
For more information, please contact Sohil Shah.
Student Legal Services
Student Legal Services (SLS) continues its over-30 year tradition of providing the Emory community with free legal advice. SLS researches and answers legal questions for its clients, explains the law, analyzes their legal options and tries to refer them to appropriate legal aid organizations or private attorneys when necessary. Student caseworkers with SLS do intake with clients, brief the SLS attorney on the clients' situation, assist the attorney with any quick research needed and sit in with the attorney as he advises the clients.
To get involved with SLS, please contact Zahra Smith.
Zahra Smith and James Reyes
Tanisha Palvia, Kamron Mitchell, and Laura Seamon
Refugee Family Services
Refugee Family Services
Refugee Family Services (RFS) is a metro-Atlanta non-profit that serves approximately 2,500 refugee/immigrant women and children each year. RFS provides critical human services, youth programs, health services, education programs and domestic violence prevention programs. This work furthers our mission to support the efforts of refugee women and children to achieve self-sufficiency in the United States by providing education and economic opportunity. We provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services through our Community and Youth Center, located about 20 minutes away from Emory in Stone Mountain. Our more than 30 full-time employees include people from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Somalia, Kurdistan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Latin America and the United States. Collectively, they speak 20 languages and all are fluent in English.
The Georgia Refugee Public Policy and Education Initiative
RFS has taken the lead in starting the Initiative, which is committed to promoting local and state policies that support the integration of refugee newcomers and their local communities in Georgia. We held our first Refugee Public Policy Forum in January 2008, and we are now preparing for a September 2009 coalition convention. We are actively involved in community organizing with refugee-led community groups, and developing a statewide network of alliances in the “mainstream” community. We are seeking to develop and implement policy strategies recommendations on several areas of focus:
Education law and practice on the ground that impacts the Limited English Proficient (LEP) students in metro-Atlanta’s school districts. With more than 144 languages spoken by students’ families in one school system alone, this is a critical issue. Issues include: No Child Left Behind’s provision for supplemental education services, English as a Second Language (ESL) learning and parent involvement; state laws on parent involvement; implementation of ESL regulations in specific districts; teacher certification.
State laws, administrative regulations and policy, and practice at the Department of Drivers’ Services regarding the issuance of drivers’ licenses and state IDs to Georgia’s international population.
Negligence claims against apartment management for failing to provide reasonable safety measures to prevent violet crime.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and it’ protections for Limited English Proficient people when accessing medical care.
- Impact of changes in juvenile law in the context of immigration law, affecting people who do not have US citizenship.
Opportunities at RFS
EPIC has adopted Refugee Family Services as its keystone Pro Bono Project. Please contact Anne Johnson with questions about this initiative.