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Pro Bono Opportunities for Paralegals

21 May

 

So you want to volunteer and gain some practical experience, but you’re not sure where to start?

Check with the ABA first. Here’s where they stand on pro bono work–and they support it as long as you follow the guidelines:

“The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Assistants’ publication, How To Utilize Legal Assistants In Pro Bono Publico Programs, provides basic information on how paralegals may participate in pro bono. Topics covered include how to get started as a pro bono legal assistant, what supervision is necessary in a pro bono program, malpractice and ethics issues, and examples of programs that involve legal assistants in pro bono work.”

Additionally, the ABA states:

“Involving paralegals in pro bono can enhance the services a pro bono program provides, for both clients and for volunteers. Services can be enhanced by the provision of supportive services for volunteer attorneys or by the provision of additional services for clients. With attorney supervision, paralegals can perform a wide variety of activities within a pro bono program, including:

  • Intake interviews
  • Research
  • Writing
  • Representation at administrative hearings”

 

You can find a comprehensive page on pro bono activities at the ABA Paralegal Pro Bono page.

Remember that paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law. Here’s an excellent practical review from the North Carolina Bar Association’s paralegal division, based on a reprinted article from the Oregon Law Practice Management blog.

So, now that you’ve got the guidelines, here’s how to find where you can volunteer your skills. The North Carolina Paralegal Association has pro bono opportunities for paralegals–and in some cases, paralegal students:

Statewide:

Guardian Ad Litem Services: Guardians Ad Litem are needed to help protect innocent children!  Being a Guardian Ad Litem can enrich your life by allowing you to assist a child in a difficult situation who cannot otherwise help himself.  You do not have to be an attorney or a social worker in order to be a Guardian Ad Litem, but you do need to love children and be willing to undergo 30 hours of training.  If you are interested, please follow this link to obtain the telephone number for the Guardian Ad Litem office in your county: www.nccourts.org/Citizens/GAL/Documents/GALCountyContactList.pdf.

Legal Aid of North Carolina: (LANC) is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity.  www.legalaidnc.org

 Disability Rights North CAROLINA: Disability Rights of NC helps people across North Carolina gain access to services and opportunity through its legally based advocacy.  It assists people with disabilities to solve disability-related problems, including housing or employment discrimination, abuse or neglect in an institution, special education, mental health and support services, or voting registration.  To find out more about volunteer opportunities at Disability Rights NC, please go towww.disabilityrightsnc.org

Wake/Durham Counties:

Southern Coalition of Social Justice: (SCSJ) promotes justice by empowering minority and low-income communities to defend and advance their political, social and economic rights. They are seeking Spanish-speaking volunteers to help work with clients during office hours.  They are also looking for entry-level paralegals for help with ongoing cases.  http://southerncoalition.org/

 

Save the Date – Paralegal Club Luncheon – April 11

7 Mar

Paralegal Program Internship Luncheon Rally

Friday, April 11, 2014
11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

This rally is about fun, food and to receive information about the Internship Fellowship Participation Dinner. 

Where:
Wynn building
Rm 1103 (Multipurpose Room)
Durham Technical Community College
1637 E Lawson St
Durham NC 27703

Love is a Verb: How to Celebrate MLK Day

17 Jan

Don’t celebrate by simply taking a day off from school. Do something. Just two hours of your time at the Stop Hunger Now Meal Packaging Event at Durham Tech will do a world of good for your community and your heart.

On Monday, January 20, from 9:00 a.m to 6:30 p.m., join other good folks in the Phail Wynn, Jr. Student Services Center Multi-Purpose Room, (room 1103) as they package meals for Durham families. By signing up for a two hour shift, volunteers from Duke University, North Carolina Central University, and the Durham Rotary Club will join Durham Technical Community College students, faculty and staff to help assemble 100,000 meal packages for Stop Hunger Now.

If that sounds like a lot of packages, it’s because there’s a lot of need. The economy has strained many Durham families, and the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina and local food pantries are struggling to keep up with demand. According Food Bank figures, “In the counties served by the Durham branch, over 96,000 individuals are at risk of hunger: 30,000 are children and over 6% are 65 years and over.”

Use this Monday as a day of service. And if you need to find a place to make a difference on Monday, come to Durham Tech. You can register for a two hour shift or make a donation  at the Stop Hunger Now site.

Paralegal Club Meeting – Thursday Dec. 5th

4 Dec

The next Paralegal Club meeting is Thursday, December 5th from 2pm -3pm in White 35.

Paralegal Club Meeting – Thursday Dec. 5th

19 Nov

The next paralegal club meeting will be Thursday, December 5th, from 2pm – 3pm in White 35.

Volunteer Opportunity at NCBA – Lawyers 4 Literacy

5 Nov

The North Carolina Bar Association is giving Durham Technical Community College paralegal students the opportunity to make a big difference in a child’s future. Volunteers will meet with a student or small group of elementary school students and help them read books that focus on civics, history or biography.

Want to go to a Lawyers 4 Literacy event? Visit the Southpoint Barnes & Noble Bookfair on Sunday, December 1st, at 1pm.

From the NCBA’s Lawyers 4 Literacy page:

Lawyers 4 Literacy (L4L)

L4L consists of Judges, attorneys, paralegals and law students who will spend 30 minutes a week for a minimum of 4 weeks with 1-4 students who have been selected by their teacher for additional help to improve their reading skills. Volunteers will share their time, love of reading and knowledge of Civics, US History, and biographies of American heroes.  Volunteers are required to listen to the children read interesting non-fiction books and pitch-in as needed.

L4L has not only helped these young students with reading skills, it has sparked their interest in non-fiction books in general.  Children do want to read about real things that happened and are curious about how they can become active and vital parts of their government and a part of the change that they want to see in the world around them.

On the first day the students will be given a passport booklet to record the books they read, with the volunteer and alone.

Here’s how it works:

  • Volunteers will meet with a student or group of students (1-4) to practice reading.
  • LRE provides these primary books on the topics connected to civics, history or biography.
  • During each 30 minute visit, the children read and the volunteer discusses the book or additional books with the students.
  • At the end of four sessions, the students receive a certificate and their choice of book as an incentive for their hard work and to help start to their own home library.

The LRE department of the NCBA supplies the books, passports, and certificates in a kit to the local volunteer coordinator who will supply them to the volunteer readers that are connected with a school involved in L4L.

Paralegal Club Meeting – Oct 9th

7 Oct

The next Paralegal Club meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 9th at 4pm. Exact location TBA. It’s been narrowed down thus far to Earth, USA, NC, Durham, DTCC, and most likely the White building. Anything more exact will come from Susan shortly.