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Title:PILS--PublicInterestLaw Indicator for law schools;
A study of an online reference directory of pro bono service and public interest law programming in United States law schools
Author(s):Van Poolen, S.K.
Contributor(s):Smith, Linda C.
Department / Program:Information Sciences
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):legal education
digital resource
law schools
public interest law
pro bono
content analysis
information sciences
Hurricane Katrina
Geographic Coverage:United States
Abstract:What began as a known and understood weather phenomenon named Katrina, quickly became a symbol of injustice, racism, inadequacy, failure, and classism. Once the initial shock of New Orleans drowning turned into the relief effort, volunteers descended on the area, including over 5,000 law students of the Student Hurricane Network (SHN). Many of the students participating in the pro bono and community service efforts of SHN took their experiences back to their law school. They used those experiences to change legal education to include pro bono service activities, recognition for those performing an extraordinary amount of hours of services, and development of classes as well as extracurricular activities that addressed the needs for legal assistance. This research builds on the author’s experience in a legal education embedded in public interest law and information science as well as time spent rebuilding the Gulf Coast as part of SHN. The research project explores the information law schools provided the ABA and asked, so what does this information tell a reader? The project creates an indicator that shows the public interest law (PIL) and pro bono service (PB) opportunities offered at a law school compared to other schools. Typical rankings only show traditional criteria such as GPA and LSAT scores. By using content analysis of web-based documents listing the self-reported pro bono and public interest programming, the indicator covers 20 facets and uses a quintile ranking of a number calculated based on the type of information provided and the observed characteristics of each facet. A snapshot of the information occurred on November 16, 2016. There are eight factors for the pro bono programming; 12 factors for the public interest law programming. Each factor consists of multiple subfactors and score on a range of 0 – 5 and the overall scale of 0 – 100. For the 202 law schools, the mode for pro bono, public interest law and the combination of the two all have modes of zero. One school scored over 80 for the combined score, Columbia University. Yeshiva, Cordozo, scored 74; Harvard, 69. Forty-six schools scored 50 or higher. Sixteen schools did not report any information in the Directory(Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, n.d.). Ten schools scored ten or fewer points. The idea of the indicator centers on users of the Directory, future law students, support service providers such as librarians in the law library and deans or administrators making decisions regarding programming and communications regarding programming. Ultimately, PILS (PublicInterestLaw Indicator for Law Schools) highlights the pro bono and public interest law programming information provided, not the quality or just the number of programs. The desired impact aims to emphasize that pro bono and public interest law programming remain an essential aspect of legal education.
Issue Date:2018-06
Citation Info:Final Document of a project required for completion of Certificate of Advanced Studies, a 40-credit hour special degree in Information Sciences.
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-06-20

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