National Pro Bono Week at UT Law: Spotlight on the 2011–2012 Pro Bono Scholars
In celebration of National Pro Bono Week (October 23–29), the UT Law Pro Bono Program is pleased to announce that second-year students Meredith Kincaid and Gwen Vindell have been selected to serve as Pro Bono Scholars for the 2011–2012 academic year.
The Pro Bono Scholars Program provides scholarships to second- and third-year students who commit to working with the UT Law Pro Bono Program a minimum of three hundred hours during the academic year. The scholars plan and implement pro bono projects and conduct research and outreach that furthers the mission of the program.
Kincaid and Vindell were selected for their management, communication, critical thinking, and leadership skills, as well as their commitment to pro bono service. They have been instrumental in launching several new pro bono initiatives this fall.
Kincaid has worked with Volunteer Legal Services (VLS) to establish the Pro Se Divorce Project. Through this project, students have the opportunity to help guide pro se divorce petitioners through the divorce process. Under the supervision of VLS attorneys, students assist petitioners to draft their divorce petitions and get all the necessary forms in order, and also help prepare petitioners to represent themselves in court. Kincaid is also working with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas to train law students to deliver Know Your Rights (KYR) curriculum for youth and public school students. The KYR curriculum includes ten interactive presentations designed to provide students with knowledge of their rights and the tools to exercise them.
Vindell has helped initiate a pilot project in partnership with American Gateways. Through the Asylum Project, students assist American Gateways pro bono attorneys in preparing asylum cases for undocumented persons. Students work with a pro bono attorney to provide legal research, draft legal briefs and motions, and conduct country condition research. Vindell also serves as the liaison between volunteer law students and the weekly walk-in legal clinics held by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. Vindell helps recruit and schedule students to assist with intake at the legal clinics.
Vindell and Kincaid also help promote the Pro Bono Program’s offerings to students and contribute valuable insight into how to engage students in pro bono work. “These students are strategic thinkers, goal-oriented, and care about their community. They have greatly increased the capacity of the Pro Bono Program to achieve its mission and I am very grateful for their service,” said Tina Fernandez, director of the Pro Bono Program.
Before attending law school, Kincaid worked as deputy director of development at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Last year she volunteered with the ACLU of Texas in Austin, and last summer she interned with the Texas NAACP. As an undergraduate, Vindell worked part time for an international nonprofit. Last summer she interned with U.S. District Judge Scott Hanen in Brownsville and the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C. Vindell also participated in the Law School’s 2011 Pro Bono in January trip to the Rio Grande Valley and is helping to plan the 2012 trip.
About the Pro Bono Program:
The Pro Bono Program’s vision is that students at the University of Texas School of Law will engage in pro bono work to increase access to justice and develop a lifetime commitment to providing legal services to those in need. Launched in 2009, the Pro Bono Program is a project of the Law School’s William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law.
Contact: Tina Fernandez, Director, Pro Bono Program, William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law, 512-232-6170, firstname.lastname@example.org