ABOUT THE PUBLIC INTEREST LAW STUDENT ASSOCIATION
The Public Interest Law Student Association (PILSA), formerly known as Students for Access to Justice (SATJ), is a student-driven organization that works to develop and sustain a culture of commitment to public service at OU Law. PILSA helps students connect with qualified volunteer placement opportunities, including full-time summer law clerk positions with local public interest organizations and government agencies. PILSA sponsors a series of recognition programs to honor students with demonstrated commitment to public and pro bono service.
The Public Interest Law Student Association promotes a culture of public service commitment by connecting students with meaningful pro bono volunteer opportunities.
- Create a culture of commitment. Develop a sustaining culture of commitment to public service that is widely embraced by the law school community, practicing lawyers and the judiciary.
- Establish meaningful pro bono opportunities. Connect students with qualified volunteer placement opportunities that confer valuable and competent legal services to those in need while providing students with intrinsically rewarding professional work experiences.
- Foster pro bono partnership. Match students with practicing attorneys and judges to work on matters to improve the legal system or access to justice enhancing professional development in areas of interest.
In March 2004, OU Law launched its Pro Bono Referral Program, known then as Students for Access to Justice (SATJ). This organization has connected hundreds of law students with area organizations, professors, government agencies and courts at all levels to assist on pro bono projects. As of spring 2012, participating law students have volunteered more than 42,000 total hours since the program’s inception, and the number of students involved grows each semester. In the 2011-12 school year alone, students reported volunteering a record 12,000 pro bono hours.
Program participants have served in courts and agencies nationwide including various District Attorneys' offices, the ACLU, Legal Aid, the EEOC, the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, Oklahoma Lawyers for Children, Oklahoma Indian Legal Services and CASA. Although there are student volunteers participating in the program throughout the year, summer is often the time when the most valuable experience can be gained through a full-time or part-time, volunteer law-clerk position. OU Law awards several fellowships for summer public service, providing financial support to exemplary students doing unpaid public interest work in between school semesters.
The Public Interest Law Student Association is a student group which matches volunteer students with licensed attorneys working on pro bono (and sometimes "low bono" or discounted cost) matters with government agencies and non-profit organizations. The student volunteers are not licensed to practice law. PILSA does not provide direct legal services. If you need a lawyer but cannot afford to pay the customary fees, you might try contacting a Legal Aid office (which has maximum income eligibility standards), a representative of your county bar association or the Oklahoma Bar Association. Communication of information through this website does not create an attorney client relationship and is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice. If you choose to contact us by email, please do not give us any confidential information.
In 2008, under the leadership of Founding Director Judith L. Maute, PILSA (then SATJ) published a report on the program’s first five years. Click here to access this report.