From October 22 -26, the College of Law joins the Utah State Bar in celebrating pro bono service and encouraging law students and practitioners to volunteer their time and expertise to low-income Utahns who otherwise could not afford legal advice or representation. A variety of events will take place that week, including the kick-off event at the College of Law.
The weeklong celebration begins on Monday, October 22 at 12:15 p.m. Utah State Bar President Lori Nelson will welcome the audience to the Sutherland Moot Courtroom for an event honoring Stewart Ralphs, Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society and a 1990 graduate of the College of Law. Ralphs has been a faithful participant as a volunteer supervising attorney and supporter of the Pro Bono Initiative’s Family Law Clinic since its inception. Ralphs explains that, “As attorneys, we know how important both sound legal advice and access to the judicial system are for everyone. We also know well, that many individuals do not have the means to hire private counsel to have meaningful access to both. While every attorney cannot work in a non-profit field, every attorney can give small amounts of personal time and professional expertise to make justice possible for those in greatest need.”
That evening, the American Indian Free Legal Clinic will offer a free Legal Blitz, focusing on issues related to Native peoples, including family claims, child welfare, and Indian land issues, at the Urban Indian Walk-In Center, 120 West 1300 South in Salt Lake City. Interested parties can sign up to participate through 2L Jason Steiert.
On Wednesday, field supervisors from the College of Law’s clinical program will discuss how to participate in clinical programs will receiving academic credit. The program will be held in room 107 from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.
On Thursday evening, the Debtor’s Counselor Law Clinic will offer a free Legal Blitz focusing on bankruptcy, debt and collection issues, at the Downtown City Library, 400 South 210 East, Salt Lake City. Interested parties can sign up to participate through through 2L Eddie Prignano.
And finally, on Friday afternoon, the Medical-Legal Clinic will offer a free Legal Blitz focused on Landlord-Tenant issues related to healthcare and accommodations at South Main Public Health Center, 3690 South Main Street, Salt Lake City. Interested students and faculty can sign up to participate through 3L Jeff Enquist.
JoLynn Spruance, associate director of the College of Law’s Pro Bono Initiative, points out the importance of pro bono service. For students, she says, “It offers an opportunity to connect with clients while expanding their hands on legal skills needed. For practitioners, pro bono service creates a way to mentor law students while assisting those in greatest need of legal counsel. For the community as a whole, being involved with pro bono service increases public awareness of the various legal needs that exist, and facilitates greater understanding of successful efforts to deliver much-needed services.”