The University of Arizona

Law School Recognized for Service

By La Monica Everett-Haynes, University Communications | December 19, 2008

The National Jurist magazine has named the James E. Rogers College of Law one of the top 25 law schools in the nation for its commitment to service.

James E. Rogers College of Law students volunteer with the UA chapter of Wills for Heroes. The pro bono organization provides will and estate planning for first responders and their families. (Credit: James E. Rogers College of Law)
James E. Rogers College of Law students volunteer with the UA chapter of Wills for Heroes. The pro bono organization provides will and estate planning for first responders and their families. (Credit: James E. Rogers College of Law)

James E. Rogers College of Law students and faculty spend a good deal of time committed to public service through various programs, projects and initiatives.

For that reason, the University of Arizona law school has been recognized by a national law magazine.

In its November issue, the National Jurist magazine named the UA law school in a top 60 list of institutions devoted to public service and public interest. The UA college took the 24th spot. Other universities with law schools in the top 25 include Northeastern University, Loyola Law School, Stanford University and Georgetown University.

Paula Nailon, the UA College of Law's assistant dean of professional development, said the College of Law has long been devoted to public service.

Nailon said, adding that the college begins helping students solidify service opportunities when they first arrive.

Also, each February the college hosts its Sonoran Desert Public Sector Career Fair for its students. Last year, more than 60 organizations and agencies from across the United States visited the University to recruit law students for service and paid work.

"We have a lot of opportunities, and when our students graduate they truly understand and have a commitment to giving back," she said. "That's what I'm most proud of."

National Jurist, in developing its list, took into consideration student involvement, the curriculum and financial factors at each of the law schools.

The magazine also noted new trends in the legal field where a "new generation of deans" who care deeply about law is shifting the field and, in some areas, focusing more keenly on disenfranchised groups.

"Today, the competition for public interest jobs is fierce, and those who win prestigious public interest fellowships are singled out and celebrated for their achievements," according to National Jurist.

At the UA, law students and faculty volunteer in a range of legal areas related to the environment, civil rights, education, disability, immigration, labor relations, tribal law and various other topics.

For example:

  • Last month, a UA law student-led group – the Election Protection Team – watched the polls on the day of the general election in search of violations and also managed an official command center, which was temporarily located at the college.
  • Law students volunteer with the Pima County Volunteer Lawyers Program and aid clients in the areas of domestic relations, child support and bankruptcy. Students also volunteer with criminal defense lawyers to work on cases within the justice system.
  • The Pro-Bono Appellate Project enables law students to work on cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco.
  • The college's Community Service Board involves students in non-legal service projects, such as volunteering at the Community Food Bank, helping local shelters, cleaning up areas of the Reid Park Zoo, and other efforts.

Jean West, a third-year UA law student, serves on the college's Community Service Board and has been involved in numerous projects and initiatives.

"It's very easy to get caught up in your own little academic world, but service is a great reminder for some of us about why we chose law school to begin with," said West, who has also worked with the Pima County Volunteer Lawyers Program.

West said it is fairly easy to involve UA College of Law students in service. They come predisposed.

"I think that's one of the reasons why they come to the UA. They are already active and want to do more community work," West said.

"It gets us out of that academic world and into the real world," she said. "For the community, we are another resource, especially for those who don't have an attorney or the finances to hire one. And this allows our partners to be able to see more clients."

Contacts

Paula Nailon

James E. Rogers College of Law

520-626-6107