TU College of Law Students Contribute Thousands of Pro Bono Hours

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

As part of its program for first, second, and third year students, The University of Tulsa College of Law provides a pro bono and community service program. The program is supervised by Jennifer Flexner, Assistant Director of Career Services and the Pro Bono Coordinator at the College of Law.

According to Flexner, the object of the program is to encourage law students to become involved in their communities. The voluntary format reflects that of similar American Bar Association and Oklahoma Bar Association programs. Students are encouraged to participate not only in their communities but also globally.

Just this summer, 14 College of Law students performed a total of 3,425 hours of pro bono and public service activities. Although students are encouraged to report their activities to Flexner, such reporting is not mandatory. It is likely, therefore, that more pro bono and community service activities have been performed by TU law students than were actually reported. 

One program of particular note is jointly sponsored by the College of Law and Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma. The CLS/LASO John 3:16 Homeless Legal Clinic was spearheaded in 2006 by the Christian Legal Society. Law student participants in the program are trained by Legal Aid Services staff counsel one time each semester. The program provides a monthly legal clinic for homeless individuals at the John 3:16 Mission.

The College of Law hopes to use the program to secure volunteer attorneys to run the clinic and foster interest within the student body. Keith Barstch, a May 2008 graduate of the College of Law was involved not only in establishing the program, but continues to remain active in providing services at the monthly clinic. 

In the tradition of the University’s motto of "Faith, Wisdom, and Service," the program at the College of Law mirrors the University-wide program, which is administered by Michael Mills, associate dean of students.

In an effort to further generate interest in this program, the College of Law devotes a half day of its Foundations of Legal Studies orientation program to emphasize to incoming students the importance of community service and pro bono activities. As part of the orientation, first-year law students visit sites across the Tulsa area with faculty, staff and other student leaders to participate in a variety of community service projects.

by Bruce McKenna (JD '80)

Jimmy Hart