JEP Pre-Law Project
What is the Pre-Law Project?
Pre-Law Project is a internship program whose main objective is to shape undergraduate students into well-rounded candidates for law schools and careers in law. We provide students with real hands-on experience in the field of law, guided by personal reflection and group deliberation in the form of bi-weekly intern discussions, completion of a personal statement, and guest lectures throughout the semester. Pre-Law Project is intensive, as interns are required to do more than just volunteer on site for a few hours a week.
Pre-Law Project students can intern at one of our partner organizations: Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Alliance for Children's Rights, Bet Tzedek, Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, the Los Angeles County Bar Association's LA HIV Law & Policy Project, Public Counsel, or the Wage Justice Center. Our interns work anywhere between 4-8 hours per week, depending on their schedules and their site's requirements. At the end of the semester, each student receives an official Letter of Confirmation from JEP and the sponsoring organization. This letter outlines all of the requirements that each student has met.
How can I Sign-up?
Step 1: First round Application
Apply to Pre-Law Project through the regular JEP program. Please come to the JEP house to fill out an application during the first 2 weeks of the semester.
Step 2: Second round Application
Choose the site that you are most interested in, and prepare materials for that site's application process.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice's Naturalization Clinic
JEP volunteers will help the Citizenship Project by completing naturalization (citizenship) applications for immigrant-clients. The work involves one-on-one interaction with applicants who may have limited English proficiency, are unfamiliar with naturalization requirements and procedures, or face other challenges to becoming American citizens. Students will be supervised by a California-licensed attorney and must complete a 2-hour training covering naturalization law, form completion, and client relations. Students will have the opportunity to learn about American citizenship and the challenges applicants must overcome to successfully navigate the application process. Foreign language proficiency (mainly Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Thai, Spanish, or Tagalog) is strongly preferred.
The Alliance for Children's Rights
The Alliance for Children's Rights provides free legal services and advocacy to protect the rights of impoverished and abused children and youth. Clients include children in foster care, runaway and emancipating youth, relative and non-relative caregivers and children with educational, physical and emotional disabilities. Students will answer phone calls, gather basic facts, work with an Alliance attorney to assess the caller’s legal needs, verify information and refer callers to appropriate resources. Students also work under the direction of staff attorneys on the following types of tasks: Conducting research, Preparing documents and correspondence, Developing resource and educational materials for clients. Spanish proficiency preferred.
Bet Tzedek is one of the top legal agencies in the country providing both direct services and impact litigation assistance to Los Angeles’ most vulnerable populations. Bet Tzedek’s projects combine direct legal representation with powerful outreach, education, and legislative advocacy. Two options for volunteering are available: 1) Bet Tzedek’s Self-Help Conservatorship Clinics in Koreatown provide basic, limited assistance to self-represented litigants filing for a probate conservatorship over an aging or developmentally disabled adult. Under staff supervision, volunteers are responsible for providing self-represented litigants with general information and guidance about court processes in petitioning for conservatorships. 2) Bet Tzedek’s Intake Services conducts pre-screening assessments to determine legal assistance and representation of potential clients. Under staff supervision, volunteers will develop and exercise foundational legal skills, such as issue-spotting in assessing and determining income- and case-type eligibility.
Central American Resource Center
CARECEN provides direct legal services,organizing, and community education programs to immigrants. It serves as a strong community advocate on the policy issues of immigration, education reform, and civil rights. They have several internship opportunities available, all of which require fluency in Spanish. Citizenship Program Law Intern: Help legal residents become U.S. Citizens and assume full participation in U.S. civic society. Through the program, legal permanent residents will be screened to assure that they qualify to apply for naturalizing without issue. We assist clients in filling out the necessary applications. We also host monthly fairs to help up to 100 clients. These fairs are on Saturdays. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)/ Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) Law Intern: In November 2014, President Obama announced a significant expansion of deferred action to provide temporary protection from deportation for millions of unauthorized immigrants currently in the U.S. This will be accomplished through expansion of the current DACA program, as well as the creation of the new deferred action program, DAPA. CARECEN provides direct legal services through legal screenings and application preparations. Key duties:
· Providing direct legal assistance to clients primarily in matters of Immigration Law.
· Including legal interviews of clients to determine eligibility for DACA/DAPA
· Assisting DACA applicants in gathering required documents
· Conduct potential fraud screenings U-Visa/Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Law Intern: U Visa is granted to a person who has been a victim of certain crimes in the U.S. and who cooperates with police in the investigation or prosecution of the case. A VAWA Visa is granted to a person who has been a victim of domestic violence committed in the United States by a U.S. citizen or legal resident who is their spouse, child or parent. We assist these clients with consultations, filling applications, and applying for residency after 3 years. Refugee Family Intake Clinic Law Intern: The Refugee Family Program is based off the Legal Orientation Program for Custodians (LOPC) Program model. We host a series of workshops to educate and asses the family’s legal options. We then assist the families in filling out their asylum application with the help of volunteer attorneys if we find that they have an asylum case.
The nation’s original and largest nonprofit environmental law organization, they leverage their expertise and commitment to fight for justice and advance the promise of a healthy world for all. They represent every one of their clients free of charge. Specific duties will include: legal research and factual investigations, administrative office legal assistance, attending court hearings and other organizational meetings. You will be expected to do 4 hours a week.
Esperanza is a non-profit law firm which educates and represents immigrants in deportation proceedings in Immigration Court. Esperanza provides legal representation to immigrants who are in detention and/or removal proceedings. All Esperanza interns will begin by making copies, phone calls, etc. After 3 weeks, they will begin to do more program-specific tasks. LOPC interns will work with lawyers and paralegals involved in the Legal Orientation Program for Custodians of unaccompanied children. They will conduct legal intakes (client interviews) for potential legal relief in Spanish. They will refer minors to legal and social service providers, as well as conduct research. Spanish fluency required. Volunteers must be 21 years of age or older.
Inner City Law Center
The only provider of legal services on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, Inner City Law Center combats slum housing while developing strategies to end homelessness.
Inner City Law Center is recognized for our expertise in housing issues, veterans’ benefits, and homelessness prevention. Our staff of 40, including 20 attorneys, provides quality legal representation for people who have nowhere else to turn. We fight for justice for low-income tenants, working poor families, immigrants, people who are living with HIV/AIDS or are disabled, and veterans. Driven by the fundamental principle that every person should always be treated with dignity and respect, ICLC works for long-term, positive, and meaningful change.
Undergraduate student volunteers assist ICLC’s attorneys and paralegals with current cases and projects, help serve ICLC’s clients, and help further ICLC’s efforts to end homelessness. During the fall and spring semesters ICLC requires a minimum commitment of 16 hours per week, for at least 14 weeks. During the summer semester ICLC requires a minimum commitment of 16 hours per week, for at least 10 weeks.
Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (Van Nuys)
Our primary mission is to combat poverty through the judicial system to improve the lives of individuals and families and in our community. We offer free legal representation, advice and education. We have improved health and wellness, expanded economic opportunities, and protected human rights throughout Los Angeles County.
Volunteers work at clinics and on cases and projects in our offices, at sites in the community, and in our clinics. At our clinics volunteers help litigants prepare court forms, or paperwork for administrative hearings. Under the supervision of an attorney, volunteers may be asked to provide information about the legal process, as well as other community resources. All non-attorney work is reviewed and approved by an attorney.
Public Counsel, the nation’s largest pro bono law firm, invites Pre-Law students to volunteer with their program, Connecting Angelenos to Resources and Essential Services (CARES). CARES volunteers are trained about the “benefits of last resort:” General Relief, Cal Fresh (formerly known as food stamps), CalWORKs, and Medi-Cal, then provide on-site advocacy at Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) offices. Volunteers will not only have the opportunity to navigate the social services system and advocate on behalf of clients, but will also provide referrals that could help clients find a job, keep their home, escape domestic violence or recover from substance abuse.
Street Law at the EXPO Center
Work with current USC law students to team teach legal concepts (lawmaking, crime in America, advocacy, freedom of speech...) and share about your college experieince with neighborhood middle and high school students. This site requires Livescan fingerprinting and registering as a volunteer for the City of Los Angeles (this is done at http://www.laparks.org/info/volunteers.htm). This is a great opportunity for someone interested in learning more about the law and law school, but not able to make the hour commitment of the other internship opportunties. Commitment is 2 or 3 hours a week (one hour learning material and one/two hours teaching) and goes through March 16th. Times are: Mondays 5:30-6:30pm and Wednesdays 6:30-7:30pm.
The Wage Justice Center
The Wage Justice Center collects back wages and penalties owed to low-income workers. Pre-Law interns will be expected to: 1) assist with construction worker unpaid wage cases, including conducting intakes (interviews); 2) assisting in the investigation of cases, including making calls; and 3) engaging in general law office administrative work, including scanning, copying, and filing legal documents. Minimum commitment of 4 hours per week. Spanish speakers preferred.
Frequently Asked Questions:
• I’m not a pre-law student, can I still do the Pre-Law Project?
Of course you can! Whether you are thinking about becoming a lawyer or just want to help people, having an internship (especially one as well-guided as this one) will give you the opportunity to gain experience and reflect upon the work you may or may not want wish to do in the future.
• What do I get out of this internship?
There are several things, beyond a great resume-building experience that you will get out of this internship. During your internship period you will create a personal statement, something required as part of a law school application. At the end of your internship, you will also receive a letter of confirmation from JEP and from your internship supervisor stating that you’ve successfully completed the internship program and all of its requirements. If you do very well, you can even get a letter or recommendation!
• What am I going to have to do?
In addition to completing a semester-long internship at a local non-profit organization or public interest firm, interns are required to participate in bi-weekly discussions, attend guest lectures, and complete several essays that will form their personal statement. For interns’ duties, each site requires interns to perform different tasks. Please refer to site description for more details.
• I really want to know more about the Pre-Law Project! Where can I get more information?
Your enthusiasm is fantastic! You can email PreLawProject@gmail.com or stop by the JEP House and ask to speak to the director of the program. If you are interested, make sure to sign-up for JEP the first two weeks of the semester.