Pro Bono Scholars Program Externship

LW.12651 / LW.12763
Professor Paula Galowitz
Open to 3L students only
Maximum of 10 students
Spring semester
14 credits*
No prerequisites.


The Pro Bono Scholars Program (PBSP) was created under special rules of the New York Court of Appeals to allow law students to take the New York Bar Exam in February of their 3L year if they commit to spending the last semester of law school working full time on pro bono legal work through the law school for credit. Through the NYU PBSP Externship, students can participate in this program in partnership with a not-for profit legal service providers that predominantly address the legal needs of indigent clients where the work performed is for such clients. After law students take the Bar Exam in February of 2023, their entire course load in the Spring semester (the end of February through May) will consist of this externship. During the 12 weeks of this reconfigured semester, students will be expected to spend approximately 45 hours each week participating in the externship’s fieldwork and seminar.  

Course Description


The fieldwork component is the central focus of the PBSP. Students’ fieldwork represents 11 credits of the PBSP Externship. Students should include information in their applications about their interest in particular experiences and career directions so that these can be taken into account when assigning fieldwork placements. (For more information about the fieldwork assignment process, please see “Additional Information” section below.) Students assigned to one of the “Fieldwork Partners” discussed below will work with one or more attorneys in the particular non-profit, in consultation with Professor Paula Galowitz.

NYU students can also participate in the PBSP through the Education Advocacy Clinic (EAC) with Professors Randi Levine and Matthew Lenaghan, working on special education cases. Students interested in participating in the PBSP through the Education Advocacy Clinic should apply directly to that clinic.

Fieldwork Partners

PBSP Externship partners with public interest organizations for students’ fieldwork. Current possible partners are listed below, but students interested in PBSP should check the Pro Bono Scholars Program Externship description on the website during the application period because this list may grow/change.

1.    Bronx Defenders
The Bronx Defenders (BxD) is a public defender non-profit that is radically transforming how low-income people in the Bronx are represented in the justice system, and, in doing so, is transforming the system itself. Our staff of over 350 includes interdisciplinary teams made up of criminal, civil, immigration, and family defense attorneys, as well as social workers, benefits specialists, legal advocates, parent advocates, investigators, and team administrators, all of whom collaborate to provide holistic legal and social service advocacy. Through this integrated team-based structure, we have pioneered a groundbreaking, nationally-recognized model of representation called holistic defense that achieves better outcomes for our clients.

  • Civil Action Practice
    Our Civil Action Practice provides comprehensive legal services to our clients and their families by fully integrating civil representation with our Criminal and Family Defense Practices. Our goal is to minimize the severe and often unforeseen fallout from Criminal and Family Court proceedings while facilitating the reintegration of our clients into their community. Our Civil Action Practice attorneys and legal advocates represent our clients in every forum in New York City—administrative, state, and federal—to address these problems. Civil attorneys and advocates provide comprehensive advocacy to help our clients resolve civil legal problems related to barriers to access to employment, public benefits, and housing (including eviction efforts); police misconduct and criminal record errors; and civil forfeiture.  

  • Immigration Defense Practice
    Over a decade ago, The Bronx Defenders pioneered the model of integrated criminal defense and immigration representation. Immigration Attorneys work closely with clients and their advocates throughout the pendency of their cases in both Criminal and Family Court to avoid or mitigate negative immigration consequences. Additionally, Immigration Attorneys at The Bronx Defenders represent clients in deportation proceedings in both detained and non-detained settings, provide affirmative immigration services, and pursue community-based systemic reform litigation and advocacy challenging unforgiving federal immigration laws.  Since November 2013, our Immigration Attorneys have also served as assigned counsel at the Varick Street Immigration Court under the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), the first-ever universal representation project in immigration court. 
  • Criminal Defense Practice
    The Criminal Defense Practice (CDP) at The Bronx Defenders is composed of over 150 attorneys, investigators, social workers, practice associates, and administrators who provide comprehensive criminal defense representation to people in the Bronx facing police and criminal legal system involvement. They appear in various proceedings including but not limited to arraignments, hearings, and trials in criminal courts, as well as concurrent proceedings such as Superintendent’s suspension and Department of Motor Vehicle refusal hearings. CDP attorneys collaborate with advocates and administrators on interdisciplinary holistic teams to identify and address issues that contribute to our client’s ensnarement in the criminal legal system and the enmeshed consequences that arise out of their contact with the system. Through a client-centered approach, our CDP attorneys strive to gain a deeper understanding of our clients’ circumstances and priorities. Armed with that understanding, they fight for our client’s desired outcomes by strategically raising personalized, persuasive arguments in mitigation, negotiations, and litigation.

  • Family Defense Practice
    The Bronx Defenders’ Family Defense Practice (“FDP”) provides legal representation and social work support to parents charged with child abuse and neglect, and who are at risk of losing custody of their children. Family Defense Attorneys at The Bronx Defenders are at the forefront of a movement to provide holistic, institutional representation to parents in Bronx County Family Court who are fighting allegations of child abuse and/or neglect. They are dedicated to fighting on behalf of parents whose parental rights are in peril while creating long-term solutions for the reunification and stability of families. Family Defense Attorneys will primarily litigate abuse and neglect cases, but will occasionally appear in concurrent matters including custody, visitation, and termination of parental rights cases.

2.     Brooklyn Defender ServicesImmigration Practice
Brooklyn Defender Service’s Immigration Practice provides comprehensive and zealous representation to our clients, who face life-changing consequences at the intersection of the criminal justice system and the immigration system. The Immigration Practice is comprised of the Padilla Team, Immigration Community Action Project (ICAP), and the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) Team.

NYIFUP is the groundbreaking, first-in-the-nation universal representation program for detained immigrants, funded by the New York City Council and created in partnership with BDS. BDS staff have provided deportation defense to detained immigrants on an assigned counsel model since NYIFUP’s inception as a pilot program in the fall of 2013. BDS’s NYIFUP Team represents detained noncitizens in bond hearings, merits hearings on their defenses to removal, and appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). In addition, BDS has a highly successful in-house federal court practice, and has litigated dozens of habeas corpus petitions challenging the wrongful detention of immigrants.

The ICAP Team serves both BDS clients and Brooklyn community members by representing individual clients before USCIS, family court, and the non-detained New York Immigration Court, and has helped hundreds of clients secure permanent residence, asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, Temporary Protected Status, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and other benefits.The project also runs and staffs many community clinics and presentations, partnering with community-based groups, elected officials, churches, and social service providers.

The Padilla Team advises BDS criminal and family defense clients about the potential immigration consequences of criminal charges and family court proceedings. Padilla attorneys work in an early intervention model, providing immigration-related advice as early as the client’s arraignment and coordinating with court staff, prosecutors, social workers, and client families to promote the best possible outcome for the criminal, family, and/or immigration cases.

3.     Disability Rights New York
Disability Rights New York (DRNY), the Protection and Advocacy System for New York State, is a statewide organization advancing the civil rights and legal rights of people with disabilities. DRNY challenges systemic abuse, neglect, discrimination, and legal rights violations through legal case-handling, individual and systemic reform litigation, public investigations, advocacy, and collaboration with stakeholders. Justice for individuals with disabilities is DRNY's focus.

Pro Bono Scholars will assist DRNY in providing pro bono legal representation to individuals with disabilities in New York. The student will be given a diverse experience, including opportunities to interact with and directly advocate for clients, conduct legal research on case-specific legal issues, participate in investigations of abuse and neglect, engage in community outreach, and help with litigation tasks such as drafting complaints, motions, petitions, and pleadings. Students will be supervised by a practicing attorney and will participate in both individual representation and systemic advocacy.

4.    Lawyers For Children
For over 35 years, Lawyers For Children (LFC) has advocated tirelessly on behalf of almost 30,000 children in New York City court proceedings involving: voluntary foster care placement, abuse, neglect, termination of parental rights, adoption, guardianship, paternity, custody and visitation. We give our clients the representation and resources they deserve— a voice in the decisions that affect them, guidance in evaluating their options and support for the next steps in their lives. By advocating, educating and empowering, we dramatically improve the lives of youth in foster care, who are predominantly children of color from poor and low-income families from the five boroughs of New York City, and compel comprehensive reform of the foster care system.

LFC employs a unique multi-disciplinary model, in which a lawyer and social worker, both with extensive experience and training in child advocacy, work together on every case. In addition, we support our clients through self-advocacy and community engagement, and use both the legislative and judicial systems to pursue reform of the foster care system so that all youth in foster care in NYC can overcome systemic barriers to success, break the cycle of poverty, and build bright futures for themselves and for their own families.

Pro Bono Scholars will assist LFC’s staff attorneys with their front-line litigation caseloads providing legal representation in the New York City Family Courts in foster care, abuse, neglect, termination of parental rights, adoption, custody, guardianship and visitation proceedings. Typically, this involves legal research and writing, including motion practice; appearances in court on the record under supervision; monitoring cases to insure compliance with Court orders; assisting with intake; trial preparation; and, client contact.  

5.    Mobilization for JusticeHousing Project
MFJ’s mission is to achieve social justice, prioritizing the needs of people who are low-income, disenfranchised, or have disabilities. We do this by providing the highest quality direct civil legal assistance; conducting community education and build partnerships, engaging in policy advocacy, and bringing impact litigation focusing on four key areas: Housing, Economic Justice, Disability, and Aging. MFJ is a 140+ person organization comprised of attorneys, paralegals, social workers, support staff, and other professionals.  It is a diverse, unionized, and collegial workplace.

MFJ's Housing Project works to prevent homelessness by defending tenants in eviction proceedings through NYC’s Right to Counsel program, improving living conditions for tenants, while also fighting harassment and discrimination to keep people in their homes and their communities intact.

Pro Bono Scholars will be directly supervised by a Supervising Attorney and work alongside staff attorneys in advocating for housing justice. Past Pro Bono Scholars and volunteers have assisted with all forms of litigation from intake to trials and appeals; drafted amicus briefs; testified before the City Council; collaborated with community partners to educate and empower tenants; participated in outreach; and performed legal research and writing.

6.    New York Legal Assistance Group
Founded in 1990, the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) is a leading not-for-profit civil legal services organization advocating for adults, children, and families that are experiencing poverty or have low income. We tackle the legal challenges and systematic barriers that threaten our clients’ economic stability, well-being, and safety. We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion and constantly improving how we respond to systemic issues of racism that affect our clients in their pursuit of justice. We address emerging and urgent needs with comprehensive, free civil legal services, direct representation, impact litigation, policy advocacy, financial counseling, medical-legal partnerships, and community education and partnerships. Last year, we affected the lives of 90,800 people.

  • S.D.N.Y. Pro Se Legal Clinic
    The S.D.N.Y Pro Se Legal Clinic is funded by a grant from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to assist individuals who are representing themselves or planning to represent themselves in civil lawsuits in that court. The clinic has handled a huge variety of cases including, among others, wrongful death, law enforcement misconduct, housing conditions, foreclosure, disability discrimination, employment discrimination, wage and hour violations, intellectual property infringement, securities, social security, and the Mueller investigation.

    Under supervision, pro bono scholars in the S.D.N.Y. Pro Se Legal Clinic are assigned their own cases and assume full responsibility for assisting non-incarcerated civil litigants in the Southern District of New York. They litigate on behalf of working-class New Yorkers in Federal Court within an exciting range of cases at nearly every procedural stage. While not guaranteed, and subject to final Court approval, students may have the opportunity to defend a deposition, argue a motion in court, represent a litigant in settlement negotiations in an Americans with Disabilities Act case or intellectual property case; and/or represent a litigant at an initial case conference. Students will be encouraged to attend case conferences, trials, and appellate arguments.
  • LegalHealth
    NYLAG’s pioneering LegalHealth program improves health outcomes by addressing corresponding legal needs, removing legal barriers to better health for patients with limited financial resources. We work alongside medical professionals at 36 New York hospitals and medical facilities, including NYC Health + Hospitals, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Montefiore Medical Center, CancerCare, and many more.

    Social determinants of health—the non-medical circumstances (i.e. housing, income, food security, immigration status, etc.) that directly affect one’s health—limit access to and quality of medical care. This reality makes LegalHealth not only pioneering but necessary.
    Pro Bono Scholars in the LegalHealth Unit will help patients secure benefits, address housing issues, handle immigration matters, access special education services, solve insurance disputes, resolve family law matters and negotiate workplace accommodations. Intern responsibilities will include client interviewing, maintaining client files, legal writing, and research. Strong preference for fluent Spanish speakers.

7.    Queens Legal Services—Homeowner & Consumer Rights Project
Founded in 1967, QLS seeks equal access to justice for all low-income residents of Queens through a range of legal advocacy, education and community partnerships. We provide free legal counseling, and representation in civil legal matters including housing, public and disability benefits, immigration, domestic violence prevention, consumer and homeowner protections, family law, access to education, and employment rights to eligible low-income individuals and families. We work with our clients and partners to identify and address root causes for systemic inequalities in Queens and throughout New York City. We provide civil legal services from our community based office in Jamaica and are able to serve clients remotely through our citywide Legal Access Line. We are part of a network of local programs that make up Legal Services NYC (LSNYC), the largest free civil legal services provider in the United States.

The Pro Bono Scholar will be housed in our Homeowner & Consumer Rights Project (“HCRP”).  HCRP helps homeowners facing foreclosure and consumer debtors through litigation, non-litigation advocacy, and community education to challenge and eradicate abusive lending practices. We represent homeowners in foreclosure proceedings and in dealing with predatory lending, tax liens, and problems with reverse mortgages. We also assist consumers with a range of debt collection issues, including student loans, nursing home debt and credit collection lawsuits. Under supervision of an attorney, the Pro Bono Scholar will be involved in all aspects of our practice, including interviewing clients, conducting legal research, drafting pleadings and motions, and representing clients in court supervised settlement conferences.

8.    TakeRoot Justice
TakeRoot Justice provides legal, participatory research and policy support to strengthen the work of grassroots and community-based groups in New York City to dismantle racial, economic and social oppression.  

TakeRoot Justice employs a unique model of partnership with grassroots and community-based groups. Our partners take the lead in determining the priorities and goals for our work, and advance our understanding of justice. This upends the traditional power dynamics between communities and service providers. We believe in a theory of change where short-term and individual successes help build the capacity and power of our partners, who in turn can have longer term impact on policies, laws and systems that affect their communities. Our work has greater impact because it is done in connection with organizing, building power and leadership development.

  • Housing Rights
    TakeRoot's Housing Justice team works side-by-side with tenants as they fight against gentrification to demand better living conditions, affordable rents, and a voice in the policies that shape their neighborhoods. By partnering with tenant associations, community-based organizations, and city- and state-wide coalitions, we help tenants build their power. This advocacy has resulted in millions of dollars' worth of repairs in low-income housing and kept New Yorkers in their homes. We help tenants fight back against harrassment and hold landlords accountable. We represent tenants in litigation to combat willful neglect and correct poor and dangerous housing conditions. We help community groups and tenants come together in coalitions across the city to advocate for policies that stop predatory and abusive landlords.

    The Pro Bono Scholar will join in all aspects of TakeRoot's housing work, including representing tenants and tenant groups in Housing Court and administrative proceedings; researching and drafting legal papers, including pleadings and motions; attending and participating in tenant association meetings; giving trainings on tenants' rights; providing support to our coalition partners, including legal research and reviewing materials for liability concerns; helping with intake and client relationships; and providing advice at legal clinics (under attorney supervision). Timeline permitting, we aim to provide the Scholar with the opportunity to stand up in court and to act as lead attorney in at least one Housing Court case. The Scholar will be directly supervised by an attorney on the Housing Justice Team, as well as by other attorneys with whom they work on individual projects. (During the COVID-19 pandemic, most of our community and partner activities and court appearances occur remotely.)

  • Workers' Rights Practice Area
    The Workers’ Rights Practice Area’s mission is to ensure that labor and antidiscrimination laws are enforced and workers are able to lead lives of strength and dignity. We represent low-wage workers to recover stolen wages, and combat violations such as unpaid minimum wages and overtime, tip theft, discrimination, sexual harassment, labor trafficking, and retaliation against workers who assert their rights under the labor laws. We also provide community education workshops on workers’ rights, engage in legislative and policy advocacy. We believe that when workers stand up for their rights in the workplace, they are transformed and empowered in every area of their lives.

    The Pro Bono Scholar will assist attorneys on various aspects of their work on individual and group cases. The Pro Bono Scholar will have client contact and work on cases including those in front of government agencies and federal courts. The Pro Bono Scholar will also assist attorneys with: preparing demand letters; calculating damages spreadsheets; submitting Department of Labor claims, drafting court pleadings; policy and advocacy campaigns; doing clinic intakes at worker centers; attending court and agency hearings; and performing cutting-edge legal research. Additionally, there will be exposure to activities in the area of public advocacy and community engagement.

9.    The Door
The Door is an unparalleled model for youth development, offering a comprehensive range of integrated services within a single site for nearly 11,000 New York City youth each year. Our mission is to empower young adults to reach their full potential by providing comprehensive youth development services in a diverse and caring environment. At The Door, youth can access health care and education, mental health counseling and crisis assistance, legal assistance, college preparation services, career development, housing supports, arts, sports and recreational activities, and nutritious meals – all for free and under one roof. By providing participants with our suite of integrated services, we seek to provide any motivated young person with the tools, resources, and opportunities needed to successfully transition to adulthood. The Door’s Legal Services Center is an office of forty attorneys, paralegals, social workers and other support staff. We specialize in serving vulnerable youth, including those who are homeless, undocumented, and/or LGBTQ.

The Pro Bono Scholar will primarily assist in the representation of young people in immigration matters. Our immigration practice focuses on pursuing forms of humanitarian relief including Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, asylum, U visas, and T visas. Our civil practice focuses on representing youth in other matters such as family law, landlord/tenant matters, and public benefits. Proficiency in Spanish, Mandarin, Haitian, Creole or French is strongly preferred.

10. Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS)
VOLS harnesses the power of New York City’s legal community and neighborhood-based groups to provide free, civil legal services when and where they are needed most.  

  • Senior Law Project: Pro Bono Scholar will assist in the drafting of last wills and testaments and other advanced directive for low income seniors and veterans. The Scholar will help respond to hotline calls for seniors seeking assistance on a wide range of civil legal issues including advanced planning, tenant's rights, and access to benefits. The Scholar will help to engage with community partners and help produce both client facing materials and materials intended to support our work with volunteer attorneys.
  • Microenterprise Project: Pro Bono Scholar will have the opportunity to assist Project team with all aspects of legal education, representation, and technical support for marginalized NYC small business owners. Prior Pro Bono Scholars have engaged in intake screenings, commercial leasing casework, legal research and writing, educational resource development, targeted communications alerts to clients and community members, and impact litigation.
  • Unemployed Workers Project: Pro Bono Scholar will represent low-income New Yorkers at their unemployment hearings, provide advice and counsel for hotline callers and conduct Know Your Rights presentations to organizations around NYC.

11.    Developing Partnerships
The NYU PBSP Externship is also open, on an ad hoc basis, to developing other fieldwork partnerships for students with a particular field or community of interest that is not represented by our current possible partnerships. PBSP students interested in an exploratory fieldwork partnership should contact Professor Paula Galowitz early in the application process and will need to be an active partner in developing any ad hoc arrangement.

The options for a developing partner placement are numerous, although the program can only support a few such placements in a given year because the development and supervision planning demands more from the Program. Many organizations in New York City delivering legal services to low-income or disenfranchised clients are already accustomed to accepting Pro Bono Scholars and have a process for doing so; a candidate should inquire early to ensure compliance with that organization’s process, which may be competitive.

Seminar Components

The PBSP seminar is a weekly three-credit seminar that begins in the first week of the twelve week program. The seminar will focus on a variety of issues including the development of professional identity and values, cross-cultural lawyering, and relationships with clients. Current issues in public interest lawyering will be discussed, including innovative strategies and interdisciplinary approaches.

The seminar will also complement students’ fieldwork with an analysis of the legal, strategic, ethical and cultural issues that typically arise in public interest lawyering, as well as a study of the broader political, social and institutional norms that influence the lives of clients and communities and create obstacles to successful lawyering.

Case or work rounds will be part of the weekly seminar. Students will have multiple opportunities to reflect on own experiences, and to think critically about the legal profession and various legal institutions. Issues of access to justice, including barriers to it, will be addressed along with observations about systemic issues in the justice system.

The weekly three-credit seminar will be on Wednesdays starting at 4:00 p.m. 

Qualifications for Applicants

The clinic is open to 3Ls who will complete all other coursework required for graduation prior to the Spring semester; be in good academic standing and in compliance with law school, New York State and ABA requirements for graduation. Prior to applying, students should review the Overall Caps and Non-Classroom Credit Caps in the JD Program Requirements.

Students must take the New York Bar Exam in February, 2023. (In extraordinary circumstances, a student may not be required to take the New York Bar Exam but this requires the permission of Professor Galowitz.) States other than New York rarely, if ever, allow pre-bar graduation exam taking or early admission; students hoping to take other state bar exams pre-graduation (in addition to the New York Bar Exam) and/or to seek early bar admission are responsible for determining whether the state in question makes allowance for such choice.

Application Procedure

Students should submit an application, resume and transcript on-line via CAMS. Applicants should submit a supplement to the application via CAMS ranking their preferences for all of the possible fieldwork placements mentioned in this PBSP Externship description. Applicants will be contacted during the clinic application period for an interview during which the topic of fieldwork and planned training will be discussed in greater detail. After the interview, applicants can revise the ranking of their preferences for the fieldwork options by emailing Professor Galowitz by no later than Tuesday, April 12th.

For questions regarding the application process, please contact Susan Hodges. If you have questions about the Pro Bono Scholars Program Externship itself, you can contact Paula Galowitz. If you have any questions about the Education Advocacy Clinic, contact Randi Levine.

Additional Information

Students interested in the PBSP Externship must complete all required courses, including Professional Responsibility, by the end of the first semester of the third year. Students are strongly encouraged to complete the Option A writing requirement by the end of the fall semester of the third year. The PBSP Externship can count for either the experiential learning requirement or the Option B writing requirement.

Students in the PBSP Externship should consult with the Office of Academic Services to ensure that the credit hour and other academic requirements for graduation and bar admission are satisfied, after completion of the PBSP Externship. At least 64 of the 83 credits required for graduation must be in regularly scheduled classes. The four-credit seminar in the PBSP Externship is a regularly scheduled class. Students who have taken other externships and some clinics or received academic credit for supervised research, law review, moot court or other nonresidential academic activities should ensure they have the necessary credits to graduate if they participate in the PBSP Externship. Prior to applying, students should review the Overall Caps and Non-Classroom Credit Caps in the JD Program Requirements.

Students will receive a letter grade for the seminar. The fieldwork component is assessed on a credit/fail basis.

The fieldwork assignment process will occur after students are accepted into the Pro Bono Scholar Program Externship and have accepted the offer. The deadline for students to accept a clinic position is on May 13, 2022. Professor Paula Galowitz will then email the accepted students the possible fieldwork placements. In the few weeks after May 13th, the plan is that students will contact the possible fieldwork placements listed in that email and have screening interviews by those possible placements, preferably during the weeks of May 16th or May 23rd. If for some reason a student accepted into PBSPE is not matched with a fieldwork placement that is one of the student’s top three choices, Professor Galowitz and members of the PILC (Public Interest Law Center) will work together with the student to find an acceptable placement.

Additional general information about the Pro Bono Scholars Program is available on the New York State Unified Court System website

Student Contacts

Alexander Devine
Maya Hansen
Robertson M. McAnulty
Hannah Rausch  
Vishal Reddy  
Naomi Schmidt
Juilee Shivalkar  
Sharila Stewart  
Zac Tanner  
Hadiya Williams

* 14 credits include 11 fieldwork credits and 3 academic seminar credits.