Hiscock Legal Aid Society is pleased to be one placement site for the new Pro Bono Scholars Program, a legal education initiative supported by Hon. Jonathan Lippman, the Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals.
The program, in its inaugural year, allows participants to spend their last semester of law school performing pro bono service. It is the first of its kind in the nation.
Jamie W. Dening is one of five third year SU Law students taking part in the program. Mr. Dening had previously been completing an externship with Hiscock Legal Aid Society, and said this transition to the scholars program made sense.
“It was a good opportunity to get experience before graduation but also to serve people in need and to really focus on helping people,” said Mr. Dening. “I believe there are people who are underserved and that don’t have access to legal services. This is a great mechanism to give people access.”
So far, Mr. Dening’s work has focused mainly on parole revocation defense. “It is a rewarding experience, specifically when I have been able to identify clients with dual diagnosis needs and then get them connected to the treatment that they need, instead of just going back to prison.”
In addition to his full time responsibilities at Hiscock, Mr. Dening also attends a seminar class with other Pro Bono Scholars where he writes journals and shares what he has learned in the process. Other benefits of the Pro Bono Scholars program include being permitted to take the New York State Bar Exam in February and being admitted to practice earlier than normal.
“This innovative program allows bright, community-minded law students to apply what they have learned in lecture halls and positively impact people in our community,” said Susan R. Horn, President and C.E.O. of Hiscock Legal Aid Society. “The Pro Bono Scholars program is a great way for law students to finish their education, while simultaneously allowing organizations like ours to increase our capacity. We are very grateful to Chief Judge Lippman for his support of legal services and to Jamie Dening for choosing to do his service at the Hiscock Legal Aid Society.”