(This week’s article is submitted by Joni Shockey, Florida Coastal School of Law student and Research Bureau member.)
Florida Coastal School of Law’s Public Interest Research Bureau is in full swing and helping attorneys deliver much-needed legal assistance to those in underserved communities.
The Bureau is a student-volunteer research service that provides free legal research to lawyers working for public interest and poverty law organizations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina. Since the Bureau’s launch in January 2012, Florida Coastal students have completed multiple projects, ranging from Section 8 housing issues to federal fair labor issues.
“At the center of (the Bureau) is a genuine heart for the poor and under-served,” said Wendi Whipkey, a second-year Florida Coastal student and Bureau board member. “There is an enormous need for legal representation for the poor, but most simply cannot afford the costs. Without free legal services, there is no promise of justice for these individuals. The Bureau was founded to help ease the burden on poverty law organizations in providing for these individuals and to bring equal justice to all.”
Research assistance provided by the Bureau can range from written memoranda to finding and gathering legal materials, such as judicial or administrative decisions. Bureau students have a unique opportunity to support attorneys representing clients in important matters. Requesting attorneys may use the Bureau’s free legal research service for individual client representation issues, anticipated litigation issues, or more general research purposes.
Attorneys who have benefitted from the Bureau’s services have found the work product professional and helpful and have referred to the Bureau as a “great service” and “wonderful program.”
The Bureau’s student researchers and writers complete research requests in a 21-day editorial process overseen by the Bureau’s editorial board and Florida Coastal faculty members. The Bureau’s multi-layered editorial and research process is designed to ensure the production of the highest quality work-product.
The Bureau’s services are available year-round, except during exam periods and semester breaks. Because the Bureau is a student-operated program, all research requests are initially screened for acceptance.
By joining with attorneys in the community and teaching students about the vital importance of equal justice and access to the courts, the Bureau fulfills its mission to assist lawyers representing the poor and to help make equal access to justice available to indigent clients in underserved communities. For more information about the Bureau or to become a requesting attorney, please contact Brandy Natalzia, chief managing editor, at [email protected] or visit www.fcsl.edu/bureau.
Attorneys interested in pro bono opportunities throughout the Fourth Judicial Circuit are encouraged to contact Kathy Para, chairperson, The Jacksonville Bar Association Pro Bono Committee, [email protected].