Service to Others
WMU-Cooley operates many pro bono services and programs to assist others in our community or those in need. Our faculty, staff and students have contributed hundreds of thousands of hours of free legal service per year to pro bono projects. It is the breadth and quantity of free legal assistance offered that distinguish WMU Cooley's efforts and commitment to service. Below are a list of Pro Bono Initiatives in through 2016 by campus.
Bankruptcy Basics Seminar & ABC/ WMU Cooley Bankruptcy Pro Bono Program
The monthly Bankruptcy Basics seminar at the United States Bankruptcy Court in Detroit is presented in collaboration with the Court and the Federal Bar Association. The one-hour presentations are delivered to consumer debtors who are considering filing for bankruptcy pro se, and is followed by a question-and-answer session led by the Court’s Pro Se Law Clerk and a licensed bankruptcy attorney.
Waterford Veterans Treatment Court (AKA Oakland County Regional Veterans Treatment Court)
The Waterford District Court Veterans' Treatment Court focuses on justice-involved veterans who have substance abuse and/or mental health issues. The program works closely with the Veterans Administration in Detroit and the Veterans Center in Pontiac along with area providers in numerous disciplines to include the legal, medical and other professions. The Court takes a multi-systemic approach to rehabilitation of the veteran and use of veteran mentors is instrumental to the anticipated successful completion of the program by the veteran. Veterans are supervised directly by the presiding judge.
State Appellate Defender's Office (SADO)
SADO is Michigan’s only state-funded public defense services provider, currently representing indigent criminal defendants pursuing an appeal. SADO obtains federal grant funding for special projects that ensure high quality representation and solutions to systemic problems, including: Wrongful Conviction Project providing appellate relief for cases involving questionable forensic evidence. SADO trains and supports criminal defense attorneys statewide through grants awarded by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, partnering with the Wayne Circuit Criminal Advocacy Program and Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan.
CARE House provides intervention, treatment, family support, and child advocacy for child victims of abuse.
Common Ground is a non-profit agency dedicated to helping people move from crisis to hope. Common Ground serves more than 50,000 individuals each year and most services are free of charge.
Organization Description: HAVEN is Oakland County's only comprehensive service provider for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Lakeshore Legal Aid
The Civil Legal Response Team is a collaboration of Lakeshore Legal Aid and HAVEN, providing holistic civil legal services to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Legal Aid & Defender Association Inc. (LADA) – Various Opportunities
The Legal Aid and Defender Association is the largest provider of free legal services to the indigent in Michigan and one of the largest in the United States. Their mission is to provide comprehensive, aggressive, legal advocacy and representation for residents of metropolitan Detroit.
Michigan Community Resources
Michigan Community Resources allows lawyers to realize their volunteer potential. They provide lawyers who specialize in transactional legal services unique opportunities to represent nonprofits that serve disadvantaged communities.
The Arc of Oakland County, Inc.
The Arc of Oakland County, Inc. is a non-profit charitable organization providing legal advocacy in the following areas: special education law, Social Security Disability and related governmental financial benefits; and estate planning, for children and adults with intellectual and related developmental disabilities.
The Center for Civil Justice
The Center for Civil Justice advocates for people in Michigan who need help meeting their basic needs. They use legal expertise, informed by the experiences of low income people, to monitor and improve public policy and access to governmental programs and services.
The Detroit Center for Family Advocacy
The Detroit Center for Family Advocacy (CFA) provides legal advocacy and social work services to low-income families to prevent the unnecessary placement and prolonged stay of children in foster care.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) at United Way
VITA delivers free income tax preparation to low to moderate income residents of Washtenaw County.
Wayne Co. Elder Law & Advocacy Center/Neighborhood Legal Services Michigan
Organization Description: Neighborhood Legal Services Michigan is a non-profit agency that has provided legal and other services to the community for more than 40 years.
Tenant Law Project
Volunteer attorneys and faculty from WMU-Cooley and Davenport University offer legal advice to Kent County renters at Tenant Law Project sessions held at Steepletown Neighborhood Services from 12-2 p.m. and Grand Rapids Urban League from 5-7 p.m. on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month.
Mel Trotter Ministries
Volunteer attorneys offer legal services to guests of Mel Trotter and the Heartside Neighborhood on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month from 2-4 p.m. and 5-7 p.m.
VITA-United Way/Kent County Tax Coalition
The Kent County Tax Coalition delivers free income tax preparation to low to moderate income residents of Kent County.
20th Circuit Court Legal Self-Help Center
The Legal Assistance Center provides free legal information, assistance, and resources to people who for financial or other reasons choose to represent themselves.
Allegan County Legal Assistance Center
The Allegan County Legal Assistance Center provides assistance to self-represented litigants.
Disability Advocates of Kent County
Disability Advocates of Kent County (DAKC) is a non-profit organization that advocates and facilitates action by persons with disabilities and the community to achieve equal access for all.
Justice for Our Neighbors
Justice for Our Neighbors provides free, high-quality immigration legal services for low income immigrants.
Kent County Legal Assistance Center (LAC)
The LAC provides a broad array of free legal information, assistance, and resources to people who do not qualify for Legal Aid and who cannot or choose not to retain the services of an attorney.
Michigan Legal Self-Help Center of Muskegon County*
The Michigan Legal Help Self-Help Center of Muskegon County is a free resource for area residents who need to represent themselves in simple legal matters. It is affiliated with the statewide legal self-help website which provides free information about Michigan law.
Muskegon County Public Defender's Office
The Muskegon County Public Defender's Office provides quality legal representations for defendants without means to retain legal counsel, after being charged with criminal or civil violations.
ACLU Student Representative Project
The Student Representation Project of Mid-Michigan protects the rights of students in mid-Michigan. Volunteer advocates represent mid-Michigan public school students in suspension and expulsion hearings.
Appalred Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC)
The Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) is a free service provided by Appalred Legal Aid to assist low-income taxpayers who need help with tax problems and controversies such as: responding to IRS collection notices, audits or examinations, earned income tax credit problems, innocent spouse relief, self-employment issues, injured spouse claims, tax debts & installment agreements, offers in compromise, audit reconsideration, and tax court representation.
Asset Independence Coalition - Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
The Asset Independence Coalition delivers free income tax preparation to low to moderate income residents of Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Kids, Inc. Barry & Eaton County
CASA for Kids is a non-profit organization that trains and supervises volunteer advocates for the family courts in Eaton and Barry Counties. To help these children, CASA recruits, screens, trains, supervises, and evaluates community volunteers to advocate on behalf of these children.
Elder Law of Michigan, Inc. – Various Opportunities
Elder Law of Michigan, Inc. is a nonprofit charitable organization that promotes and protects the rights, health and economic well-being of older adults and people with disabilities by providing information, advocacy, legal advice and professional services.
End Violent Encounters (EVE), Inc.
Organization Description: EVE, Inc.'s primary purpose is to provide shelter, support, advocacy, counseling, and crisis intervention, as needed, for all persons experiencing domestic violence. Their PPO Office provides technical assistance and court advocacy to victims of domestic violence and stalking who are filing for or have a personal protection order.
Immigration Law Clinic
Since 1997, the Immigration Law Clinic, a program of St. Vincent Catholic Charities, has been providing low-cost immigration representation.
Legal Services of South Central Michigan (LSSCM)
Legal Services of South Central Michigan (LSSCM) is a private, non-profit agency which provides free civil legal services to people living below 200% of the federal poverty guideline and provides full representation to clients in the areas of family law, evictions, state and federal income benefits, and consumer and elder law issues.
Teen Court Lansing Juvenile Justice Diversion Program
Organization Description: Teen Court Lansing Juvenile Justice Diversion Program of Child and Family Charities is a non-profit organization affiliated with other community agencies in the greater Lansing area. The organizational mission is to identify non-violent, first-time youth offenders (ages 11-16) and encourage them to participate in a Peer Jury Model Court Disposition Process.
St. Michael’s Legal Center Family Law Pro Bono Case
St. Michael's Legal Center for Women and Children, Inc. (SMLC), formed in 2009, and serves persons in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus counties. The main purpose of the corporation is to provide legal advice and representation in the areas of Family Law, including child support, visitation, custody, and dissolution of marriage.
Florida’s Children First Pro Bono Research Project
Florida’s Children First (FCF) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to advancing the rights of at-risk children, especially those in foster care. Uniquely positioned as Florida’s premiere independent advocacy organization, our mission is to obtain meaningful and sustainable improvement in Florida’s child serving systems.
Veterans' Treatment Court Mentor Program
Organization Description: A court that allows honorably discharged veterans to get qualifying misdemeanor charges dismissed if they successfully complete a treatment and assessment program. Veterans must both volunteer to enter the court and be otherwise eligible to receive VA care.
VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Initiative
Organization Description: VITA delivers free income tax preparation to low to moderate income residents of Hillsborough County.
Bay Area Legal Services, at the Family Justice Center
Organization Description: The Family Justice Center, in operation since 2006, is a "one stop shop" where victims of domestic violence can receive free services from approximately 23 community agencies.
Bay Area Volunteer Lawyers Program (BAVLP)/Family Forms Clinic (FFC)
Organization Description: The FFC is a free program that uses volunteer attorneys, law students and law graduates to help people who do not have an attorney complete Hillsborough County's court approved family law forms and packets.
Organization Description: The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a grassroots civil rights and advocacy group. CAIR is America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, with regional offices nationwide and in Canada.
Gulfcoast Legal Services – Various Opportunities
Organization Description: Gulfcoast Legal Services (GLS) is a non-profit corporation providing free legal assistance to income eligible residents of the greater Tampa Bay area.
Public Defender of Hillsborough County 13th Judicial Circuit
Organization Description: The Public Defenders represent adults and children charged with criminal offenses and clients held in civil commitment under the "Baker Act" and the "Sexually Violent Predator Act."
West Florida Center for Trafficking Advocacy
Organization Description: The West Florida Center for Trafficking Advocacy (WFC) exists to provide legal and professional services and advocacy for survivors of human trafficking and to service-providers, as well as to assist in trafficking-related legislation and policy matters.