Our Pro Bono Collaborative mobilizes Rhode Island law firms, law students and community organizations to provide desperately needed legal assistance for the underserved residents of the state. The unique program includes 10 major law firms, over 20 community-based organizations and several dozen law students.
Business Start-up Clinic
The Roger Williams University Business Start-up Clinic, our newest clinical offering, opened in the fall semester of 2013. The focus of the clinic is to provide services to small, low-income businesses and not-for-profit organizations in Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts. Students enrolled in the clinic work with small business owners or operators in determining and facilitating their legal needs. This includes determining the best legal entity choice, assisting with the filing of organizational documents, creating agreements, and creating leases and other contracts. The primary goal of the clinic is to teach the practice of transactional lawyering while providing service to under-served entrepreneurs and organizations. Business Organizations is a prerequisite.
Corporate Counsel Externship & Corporate Counsel Seminar
Through our Corporate Counsel Clinical Externship Program, students earn academic credit while working two to three days per week in the in-house legal offices of prominent for-profit corporations in and around Rhode Island and southern New England. Student externs will be exposed to the various ways in which law is practiced in-house and for corporate clients, gaining hands-on experience working side-by-side with some of the region’s leading corporate attorneys. Students attend a two-hour weekly seminar to teach the professionalism and lawyering skills required in an in-house legal practice.
Criminal Defense Clinic
The Criminal Defense Clinic is a one semester program in which students represent indigent criminal defendants in the District Court and Traffic Tribunal of the State of Rhode Island. The caseload consists largely of misdemeanor and traffic offenses, including allegations of assault, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, drug possession, petty theft, drunk driving and breathalyser refusal. Students will handle every stage of representation in each of their cases, including motion practice, discovery and investigation, negotiation, pre-trial litigation and, when the case demands it, trial and appellate work. Trial Advocacy is a prerequisite.
Environmental and Land Use Law Clinical Externship Program
Through the Environmental and Land Use Law Clinical Externship, students train in legal offices or departments of government agencies and non-government organizations doing environmental and land use legal work in Rhode Island and southern New England. Externs are exposed to the various ways in which environmental and land use law is practiced by government agencies and non-government organizations through litigation, administrative rulemaking and adjudication, and engagement in the legislative process. The students also participate in a two-credit, graded seminar “Advanced Topics in Environmental and Land Use Law” that will be designed by the professor, after consultation with the field supervisors, to teach substantive law, regulation, and policy directly relevant to the students’ field work, as well as the ethics and legal skills required of an environmental attorney.
The Immigration Clinic is a one semester program in which students represent noncitizens in removal proceedings in immigration court and applications for immigration benefits. Students represent clients in their applications for asylum, visas for victims of violent crime, benefits for noncitizen victims of domestic violence, waivers for long-term permanent residents and visas for juvenile victims of abuse, abandonment or neglect. Students also conduct “Know Your Rights” presentations for immigration detainees and similar presentations for immigrant communities in Rhode Island.
Ny Pro Bono Scholars Program & Prosecution Seminar
The New York Pro Bono Scholars Program (NYPBSP) bridges law school education and the practice of law while engaging students in the provision of critical legal assistance to low-income people. Students will provide approximately 520 hours of pro bono legal service over a 12-week period for which they will receive 12 fieldwork credits. In addition, students will take a two-credit weekly seminar on pro bono practice, access to justice and public interest lawyering. The field work will be graded Pass/Fail. The seminar will be graded.
Prosecution Clinical Externship Program
Through our Prosecution Clinical Externship Program, students earn academic credit while working two to three days per week in a prosecution office on the federal, state or municipal level. Students are eligible to appear in court as student attorneys in federal and state courts in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Students gain valuable hands-on experience representing the government in criminal prosecutions. Students participate in a weekly seminar with classmates who are working in a variety of prosecutorial settings.
Veteran's Disability Appeals Field Clinic
The Veterans Disability Appeals Field Clinic is a one semester program in which law students represent military veterans whose applications for disability benefits have either been denied or granted at a level that is inappropriate to the level of disability. Working with experienced attorneys from Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick, a nationally recognized law firm specializing in this work, students will research and draft legal memoranda and briefs, participate in pre-briefing conferences and, when appropriate, argue cases before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.