Legal Services and Advocacy at The Dornsife Center
Drexel University’s commitment to civic engagement and to working with our neighbors on issues of shared concern led us to work with the Thomas R. Kline School of Law to establish a set of legal supports and services at the Dornsife Center. The Kline School takes a two-pronged approach to providing community-wide free legal services and advocacy for West Philadelphia residents.
Pro Bono Program
Law students provide legal advice and support to local residents, free of charge, through our Pro Bono Program. The Dornsife Center houses pro bono criminal record expungement and estate planning clinics.
Criminal record expungement: In cooperation with Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity, we work to ensure that expungable mistakes don’t hold people back in job searches, housing and more.
Estate planning: We know these sorts of preparations can be an unpleasant and overwhelming task. That’s why we work with West Philadelphia residents to set up wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives — to ensure that your estate is passed on to your family as smoothly as possible and becomes an asset to your children and grandchildren.
Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic
During the regular law school semesters, Drexel law students enrolled in the Community Lawyering Clinic course address legal matters that are a concern to many West Philadelphia residents through cases and projects.
The cases and projects these students take on focus on topics like employment discrimination, equity in home utility billing, post-conviction relief, and homeownership issues.
A Deep Commitment to Serving Our Community
In the Thomas Kline School of Law, our commitment to civic engagement drives the way we help underserved city residents navigate a complicated legal system. Through Drexel’s Pro Bono Program, every single student at the Kline School of Law provides legal support to groups or individuals who lack access to legal representation.
While all of our law students are required to serve at least 50 hours in this program, many students understand the importance of the work they are doing and donate even more of their time. Many of our students and faculty take part in public-interest scholarship, research and activism as well, working to advance mental health laws, gender parity, immigration resources and human rights, just to name a few.
The legal services and advocacy provided by the Kline School of Law isn’t just “law students answering legal questions.” Clients in our Pro Bono Program and in our Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic benefit from the years of experience behind our faculty, who are licensed attorneys. When our students learn how represent their neighbors, they’re learning from a collective champion of public interest, with many of our faculty having served in positions supporting some of the most fundamental aspects of democracy — like acting as public defenders, and serving as staff attorneys at organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Women’s Law Project.
Our faculty have also been tapped as experts to assess the fairness of capital punishment in various states, and have supported successful efforts to challenge stop-and-frisk practices in New York City. They’re working hard and exploring ways to promote public interest through the legal system while training the next generation of lawyers to do the same.
A Community Partnership
The Dornsife Center’s Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic and our Pro Bono Program bring important legal services those who might not have other options— and as part of the community, we’re here to do our part.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Community Lawyering Clinic Student Intake
Estate Planning and Criminal Record Expungement Pro Bono Programs
Rashda West, Esq.
Director, Pro Bono & Public Interest Programs
Thomas Kline School of Law