Students involved in the UI Center for Human Rights (UICHR): Know Your Rights project spent the semester preparing for a “Know Your Rights” presentation at the Hardin County jail. They edited the “Know Your Rights” manual that was compiled last year by 2L, Alison Kanne. The goal of the manual is to create an easily accessible guide to help immigrants navigate their way through their removal proceedings.
The manual explains the various courses of action that a detainee might wish to take, and walks through when certain actions must be taken and who may qualify for such actions. Though the manual is not designed to serve as a substitute for legal representation, it is a way for detainees to understand the process a little more.
As a culmination of the semester, the students traveled to the Hardin County Law Enforcement Center in Eldora, IA to give a “Know Your Rights” presentation. Around 20 detainees participated in the presentation.
Students who participated in the project felt very rewarded to have had the chance to work on such an important project. When asked why she participated in the project, 1L, Emily Summers had this to say:
I wanted to be a part of this project to learn more about the detention process and what that can look like for undocumented individuals in Iowa. I also wanted a more comprehensive understanding of how criminal matters impact immigration issues, and what can be done to assist individuals in detention proceedings.
Visiting the jail gave the students a practical opportunity to demonstrate what they had learned with the population for whom it matters the most: the detainees themselves. The students all agreed that even if none of the detainees decide to fight their cases, they deserve to know their rights.
Students volunteering with Iowa Legal Aid (ILA) Staff Attorney Research Project through the Citizen Lawyer Program have the opportunity to conduct research on a wide range of legal issues ranging from guardianships and protective orders to federal tax and civil procedure. It allows students to gain substantive experience relevant to a practice in litigation or on the transactional side. Some of the research topics are also highly relevant to clerkships or bar topics. Because the work done is written in memo form, students have the opportunity to generate potential writing samples, subject to Iowa Legal Aid approval. This project is more than a line on a resume. It provides students with the opportunity to gain substantive and highly relevant work experience.
This year, four 1L’s and one 2L are working on this particular project for ILA. The hours vary but students can expect anywhere from 10-20 hours during the semester assisting in research while gaining valuable work and community experience.
The Citizen Lawyer Program is pleased to announce that winner of the Iowa State Bar Association Pro Bono Award, Brian Peters, will speak to Iowa law students on November 7th about the value of pro bono work—both for the community and for the lawyer.
Brian Peters is in private practice with the Kintzinger Law Firm in Dubuque. He has been an active participant in the Iowa Legal Aid Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) since 1986. The Council Bluffs native is a graduate of Iowa State University and the University of Iowa College of Law.
He has devoted over 2,450 hours to low-income Iowans in the area of bankruptcy. His dedication to this underserved population has led clients to express their immense gratitude for his efforts: “Brian Peters is an outstanding man. He unselfishly gives of himself to help others. It my honor and privilege to know him.
Mr. Peters will speak in Boyd Law Building in Room 235 from 12:40 p.m. to 1:40 p.m. Lunch will be provided for students who RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on November 6.
Iowa Law students are conducting research on the regulation of frac sand mining as part of a new CLP Pro Bono Project for Fall 2014 . Currently frac sand is not mined in northeast Iowa’s Winneshiek County, but silica sand deposits in the county are believed to be suitable for use in hydraulic fracturing. Under the supervision of the County Attorney, students are conducting research on the scope of the county’s regulatory authority under Iowa law.
The student volunteers traveled to Decorah to learn about the potential implications of frac sand mining on the community . One student said she chose to participate in the project because of the chance to work in environmental law in her home state. She also stated that it is exciting to a be part of a greater team of scientists, lawyers, and community activists investigating how frac sand mining would impact the community.
Another volunteer said, “I wanted to participate in the Winneshiek County Frac Sand Research Project because it would give me a chance to learn more about municipal, environmental, and administrative law in the best way possible – through actual application to a real world scenario. It is a unique opportunity to work on a cutting edge issue, and help a County make the most informed decision as possible for the benefit of its citizens. I chose this project because I appreciated the chance to make a meaningful impact while using the skills that we learned in law school, as well as learn new skills in the process.”
Six Iowa Law students are volunteering this semester with the Iowa Legal Aid (ILA) Self-Represented Divorce Clinic, one of the Citizen Lawyer Program’s Pro Bono Projects. The students assist divorce litigants who cannot afford to hire a lawyer but do not qualify for full representation by ILA. Instead, the litigants represent themselves and receive limited-scope representation via ILA at these monthly clinics held at the Johnson County Courthouse. The law students, under the supervision of ILA staff and attorney volunteers, help litigants complete self-represented dissolution forms prescribed by the Iowa Supreme Court, provide general information on the process, and refer questions to supervising attorneys.
The student volunteers, five of whom are in their first semester at Iowa Law, are delighted to have the opportunity to get practical experience outside of the classroom with practicing attorneys. “It was fun! It’s great to help some local Iowans, and I can’t wait for next month’s clinic,” said Matthew Cubin, a 1L assisting with the clinics.
The students will spend 12-15 hours assisting ILA during four clinics this semester. The project continues in the spring semester. Nearly seventy Iowa Law students are providing law-related volunteer service through fifteen distinct pro bono projects organized by the Citizen Lawyer Program this semester.
October 19-25, 2014 is National Pro Bono Celebration week, which serves to celebrate the countless hours that attorneys have donated to underserved populations in their communities. It also serves as reminder that as professionals, we have a responsibility to ensure that legal services are not just available for the elite. According to ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, “It is essential that the entire legal community engage in conversation and action that results in equal access to justice for all.” The committee further emphasizes that while the celebration is national in nature, the overall intention is to impact the marginalized populations within one’s own community.
As a part of the celebration, the Citizen Lawyer Program has invited attorney, Brian Peters, winner of the Iowa State Bar Association’s 2014 Rolland Grefe Pro Bono Publico Award, to speak about the importance of pro bono work and the impact it has had on his life. Peters will speak as part of CLP’s Lawyers and Leaders series on November 7th at 12:40 p.m. in Room 235 of Boyd Law Building.