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UHLC students learn importance of community engagement during ABA’s National Pro Bono Week

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Participating in the 2023 Pro Bono week at UH Law Center are, from left, Clinical Associate Professor Ryan Marquez, Stasja Drecun (J.D. 22’), Drew Padley (J.D. ‘20), Karla Perez (J.D. ‘18), Franklin “Tripp” Hise (J.D. ‘22) and Clinical Associate Professor Christopher Heard.

Nov. 3, 2023 – The University of Houston Law Center hosted several events last week to celebrate The ABA’s National Pro Bono Week, which acknowledges the remarkable impact lawyers make on the community by providing representation to those who cannot afford it.
 
Among the festivities was a panel discussion that discussed how the Law Center’s clinical programs assist in legal career development. Speakers included alumni Stasja Drecun (J.D. 22’), Franklin “Tripp” Hise (J.D. ‘22), Karla Perez (J.D. ‘18) and Drew Padley (J.D. ‘20).
 
Perez commented on how participation in the clinics can be a positive extension to a resume.
 
“It was amazing to get that exposure and be hands-on,” she said. “It made me very marketable when I was looking for internships because I had that experience already.”
 
Hise shared that the pro bono clinics have provided him with a source of inspiration.
 
“It’s the simple things you do in the clinic that provide a lot of value to the community at large, he said. “Because I was in the clinic and enjoyed that experience, I made pro bono a priority.”
 
Drecun emphasized that student advocates learn 80% of what you do as an attorney through the clinical experience.
 
“The sooner you are exposed, the more confidence you're going to have when serving your client,” she said.
 
Padley echoed Drecun’s sentiments, adding that participating in the clinic has many similarities to being a licensed attorney. 
 
“The clinic is the most similar to what I do on a day-to-day basis,” Padley said. “For that reason, I think it is very helpful.”
 
Additional programming included a Clinic Open House and a Pro Bono Pop-Up where students spoke with various local aid organizations on how they can get involved. 

Pro Bono Week events were organized by Clinical Associate Professor and Pro Bono Facilitator Alissa Gomez, Clinical Associate Professor, Assistant Dean of Clinical Programs and Director of the Entrepreneurship & Community Development Clinic Christopher Heard, and Clinical Associate Professor and Director of the Civil Justice Clinic Ryan Marquez.

For questions about how to get involved with pro bono at UHLC, contact Professor Alissa Rubin Gomez, at argomez3@central.uh.edu.

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