Pro Bono in January

Each January approximately 70 Texas Law students travel to South Texas to participate in law-related volunteer projects. The trip is organized by the Pro Bono in January Leadership Team, in collaboration with the Mithoff Program. This trip, PBinJ, takes Texas Law students outside of Austin to a rapidly growing region near the Texas-Mexico border that is dynamic but also has significant unmet legal needs.

Past trip projects have involved students in law-related work such as interviewing clients; hosting legal clinics; and researching, drafting, and translating legal documents. Students are expected to work on assigned project(s) for at least 8 hours a day, including some evening hours during the duration of the trip. Students also are expected to attend all planned activities during the week, including training sessions, community field trips, and receptions.

In January 2020, students worked on pro bono projects in collaboration with the Bexar County Public Defender Office, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR), and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA)

PBinJ 2020 Work Teams

Bexar County Team

A group of 4 students worked with the Bexar County Public Defender Office to assist clients charged with criminal offenses. These students helped research legal issues and drafted motions. The Bexar County Team participated in weekend orientation activities in San Antonio and was based in San Antonio during the work week.

Clinics Team

A group of 30-36 students worked at pro bono clinics at various locations in Cameron and Hidalgo counties. During the week, students on the Clinics Team worked at Asylum, Gender Affirmation, and Homestead Preservation clinics. The Clinics Team participated in orientation activities in the Rio Grande Valley and was based in Pharr during the work week.

Edinburg Team

A group of 4 students worked with lawyers in TRLA’s Edinburg office. The Edinburg office is a general practice office and each student was assigned to one of three internal practice areas: (1) disaster relief/housing, (2) expunctions and juvenile justice, or (3) immigration. The Edinburg Team participated in weekend orientation activities in the Rio Grande Valley and was based on Pharr during the work week.

Harlingen Team

One student worked with TRLA’s public defender program in Willacy County to assist clients charged with criminal offenses. TRLA’s Willacy Public Defender staff travel between TRLA’s Harlingen office and court in Raymondville. This team helped TRLA attorneys research legal issues, draft motions, and prepare for court hearings. The Harlingen Team participated in orientation activities in the Rio Grande Valley and was based in Harlingen during the work week.

Karnes Team

A group of 10 students worked with RAICES and Texas Law Immigration Clinic professors to assist adult immigrants detained with their children in the Karnes Family Detention Facility in Karnes City. These students helped people prepare for immigration court review of negative credible fear findings. The Karnes Team participated in weekend orientation activities in San Antonio and was based in Karnes City during the work week.

ProBAR Team

A group of 6 students worked with ProBAR’s office in Harlingen to assist adult immigrants detained in the Port Isabel Detention Center. The ProBAR Team participated in orientation activities in the Rio Grande Valley and was based in Harlingen during the work week.

Rio Grande City Team

A group of 6 students worked with TRLA’s regional public defender office in Rio Grande City to assist clients charged with criminal offenses in Duval, Jim Hogg, and Starr counties. These students helped TRLA attorneys research legal issues, draft motions, and prepare for court hearings. The Rio Grande City Team participated in orientation activities in the Rio Grande Valley, and was based in Rio Grande City during the work week.