New Pro Bono Program Offers Hands-On Experience to LL.M. Students

March 16, 2017

LL.M. students at the Law School now have a unique way to gain practical experience, working with actual clients on real legal matters, in a new pro bono program begun by Karen Lundquist, assistant professor of ESL and legal skills. Lundquist, who also teaches legal writing in the LL.M. program, launched the pro bono opportunity in collaboration with LegalCORPS, a Minnesota nonprofit that provides free legal assistance in transactional matters to low-income entrepreneurs and innovators and small nonprofits in the state.

With Lundquist acting as attorney of record, LL.M. students have worked on a range of legal matters, from intellectual property (copyright and trademark) to the establishment of a limited liability company and a minority shareholder dispute. Students have conducted client interviews, carried out legal research, and drafted correspondence and corporate documents, such as a member control agreement for an LLC.

In addition to helping business owners who otherwise would not be able to afford to work with an attorney, students who plan to sit for the New York bar exam (a goal of many LL.M. students) are also able to fulfill a key requirement: that all who sit for the exam have performed at least 50 hours of pro bono work.

LL.M. student participants have found the program rewarding and useful. “It’s been a great opportunity to have hands-on experience in dealing with clients and deepening my understanding of American law,” said Carlos Chacon, an Ecuadorian attorney. Shiyi Xue, from China, said that the pro bono program has given him “the opportunity to meet and practice with real clients and know how a U.S. attorney deals with cases, something which I never thought I would have the chance [to work on] before. I also met and solved challenges I will not get the answers to from a casebook, like how to work with and explain to a client who actually did not have a claim and make him feel better.”

Mirtha Montoya Lopez (’17) and Assistant Professor of ESL and Legal Skills Karen Lundquist
Mirtha Montoya Lopez (’17) and Assistant Professor of ESL and Legal Skills Karen Lundquist

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