Law Students in Action Project
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The Law Students in Action Project (LSAP) is the Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps project of Legal Assistance of Western New York (LAWNY). It is an AmeriCorps program administered by Equal Justice Works. Nationally, there are 18 of these projects. Individual programs vary greatly; however, all seek to engage law students in the delivery of legal services.
The goal of LSAP is twofold. First, it provides law students with pro bono opportunities with non-profit public interest law firms throughout the LAWNY service area and beyond. Secondly, by placing student volunteers at these firms, it helps the firms deliver services to their clients more effectively. In addition, LSAP is designed to encourage law students to continue engaging in public service and pro bono activities as attorneys.
To accomplish these goals, LSAP works with public interest law firms in Western and Central New York to create placement opportunities and projects for students and to encourage the use of law students as a regular part of the delivery of legal services. LSAP also works with area law schools to promote student interest in public interest law and pro bono activities both while in law school and in the future. In addition, LSAP works to encourage area law schools to create lasting partnerships in the public interest community, create programs which promote public interest and pro bono work, and create programs and systemic changes which seek to ease the difficulties associated with such work.
LSAP Volunteer Opportunities
LSAP provides numerous opportunities for law students to volunteer both during the school year and during the summer. The Volunteer Research Assistance Team, Spanish Translation and Interpretation Assistance Team, and the Pro Bono Assistance Project are primarily remote projects in which law students can volunteer their time from home or school. Students are rarely required to work at the requesting office. Semester and winter/spring break internships offer law students the ability to get some hands-on experience in a public interest law office setting while taking classes or during their breaks.
LSAP has a pro se divorce clinic and a re-entry clinic through its Tompkins/Tioga Neighborhood Legal Services office in Ithaca, New York. The pro se divorce clinic allows law students to assist clients with "do-it-yourself" divorces. The second clinic allows law students to provide advice to clients on prisoner re-entry issues in a supervised setting. This clinic focuses on issues such as cleaning up rap sheets.
Summer Associate Program
The Summer Associate Program is LSAP’s signature internship opportunity of the year, with SAP recruitment lasting from late summer through the winter months.
LSAP’s Summer Associate Program (SAP) combines a legal internship with substantive legal trainings, lunch discussions and social activities. The program is designed to provide students with a comprehensive experience, similar to that provided by a big firm summer associate program. For rising 3Ls, the Summer Associate Program provides them with the opportunity to seek sponsorship in the fellowship process with one of the LAWNY offices. The LAWNY offices currently have particular projects which they are interested in sponsoring, but all project applications are considered.
LSAP begins recruiting for the Summer Associate Program in the prior fall as part of the general fall recruiting season. Recruiters post the program announcement at numerous law schools across the country, which will then collect any resumes and forward them to the recruiters for review. Interested law students may also apply directly.
The 2007 program included a two-day orientation in May, a mandatory substantive training in June, and a number of social events capped off by the Summer Social in late July.
Orientation training includes discussion of the Student Handbook/LSAP Policies and Procedures, Housing, Public Benefits, Domestic Violence, Client Interviewing Skills, Cultural Competency, and Ethics. Substantive training has included Family Law, Consumer Law, Disability Advocacy (SSI/SSD), and Elder Law.
2008 Summer Program
LSAP has 35-40 openings in its Summer Associate Program. Internships are available in the following substantive areas: consumer rights, disability, domestic violence, education, elder law, employment, family law, farmworker rights, health law, housing, immigration, prisoner re-entry, and public benefits. Applications must be received no later than Friday, February 1, 2008. Because LSAP will be interviewing at a number of career fairs, the deadline for submission may be earlier for these interviewing opportunities.
LSAP seeks dedicated, hardworking and public interest-minded students for its Summer Associate Program. Summer Associates are expected to work an average of 30 hours per week for at least 10 weeks in a given 12-week timeframe. Some placements may allow for part-time work and are indicated as such. The Summer Associate Program begins in May with a two-day mandatory orientation program. This orientation will provide summer associates with an introduction to the Law Students in Action Project and their placements, as well as the practice of public interest law. The goal of the LSAP Summer Associate Program is to provide law students with an exciting and challenging introduction to public interest law and a career in the legal profession.
Due to programming and funding restraints, LSAP Summer Associate positions are unpaid.