Pro Se Civil Litigation Support Practicum

More than twenty-five million Americans are denied legal assistance each year due to lack of resources. This crisis impacts individuals and families that are part of our most vulnerable populations.

In this service learning practicum, students will interview clients at the courthouse and assist practicing attorneys in advising clients through the ECBA Volunteer Lawyer’s Project (VLP). Working with Professor Bernadette Gargano, Bridget O’Connell, Esq., and VLP, students will also perform legal research, develop legal resources for unrepresented litigants, and provide litigants with assistance in navigating legal documents and the court system.

Students will staff either the Help Desk in Erie County Family Court or the Pro Se Assistance Program in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. As part of their fieldwork, students will participate in skills training and write a white paper (5-6 pages) on a social justice/access to justice topic of the student’s choosing. These papers will be published on the law school website.

Applicants must:

  1. be available to work in court for at least two days per week; and
  2. provide a copy of their Fall class and work schedules with their application or as soon as they are available. 

The Family Court Help Desk is staffed from 11:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

The Federal Court Pro Se Assistance Program is located in both Rochester and Buffalo.

In Buffalo, the PSAP program is staffed from 11:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays.

In Rochester, the PSAP program is staffed on Wednesdays only from 11:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

Professor Bernadette Gargano
Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
4 Credits


This course satisfies four hours of the experiential learning requirement and provides the 50-hours of pro bono service required for admission to the NYS Bar.