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Lawyers make a difference for people and for society.
They solve legal problems, provide free legal help to
the poor, and give time to many other community efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Inspiring Stories of Service

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how lawyers can and do help…

pro bono service

Inspiring the Next Generation of Pro Bono Lawyers

As associate dean of students and professionalism, Amy Timmer has made pro bono service a top priority at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, helping hundreds of clients and inspiring the next generation of attorneys.

Under Dean Timmer's leadership, the number of pro bono hours worked by the law school's faculty and students has increased exponentially, from 3,698 hours in 2011, to 11,333 hours in 2012, to a whopping 42,029 hours in 2013.

But perhaps even more impressively, the work they do is truly 100% pro bono, as staff is not compensated and students do not receive academic credit for their service.

Dean Timmer, who also chairs the law school's Ethics and Professionalism Committee, credits the success of the program to the school's approach to pro bono, which includes high quality support and long-term commitment.

Not only does the faculty provide essential supervision for the students, but Dean Timmer also started the Pro Bono Junior Associate program, which allows outside attorneys to provide additional supervision.

WMU-Cooley also instituted the student and lawyer pro bono pledge. Unlike a typical law school pro bono pledge, which requires a student to complete a certain number of pro bono hours before graduation, WMU-Cooley's pro bono pledge encourages students and lawyers to make a lifetime commitment to pro bono service.

In addition, Dean Timmer has helped the school take advantage of its many pro bono opportunities at its campuses in Michigan and Florida.

Since Dean Timmer's arrival, WMU-Cooley has instituted a variety of great pro bono initiatives and partnerships, including:

  • ABC/WMU-Cooley Bankruptcy Pro Bono Project and Bankruptcy Education Outreach:  Through a collaboration with Access to Bankruptcy Court (ABC), WMU-Cooley law students are paired with licensed bankruptcy attorneys to represent low income debtors in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Students help clients prepare bankruptcy petitions and schedules, and participate in the bankruptcy meetings of creditors, under the supervision of an experienced bankruptcy attorney. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (EDMI) and ABC collaborated to train WMU-Cooley students in the basics of bankruptcy procedure, and then share their knowledge through a "Bankruptcy Basics" PowerPoint presentation delivered to low income debtors who are considering filing for bankruptcy.
  • Justice for Our Neighbors: Students participate in monthly clinics to help low-income immigrant refugee families file green card applications.
  • Service to Soldiers Legal Assistance Referral Program: WMU-Cooley students have helped thousands of deploying troops with free wills and powers of attorney, prepared under the supervision of JAG attorneys, and volunteer lawyers have helped deployed and returning troops who experience civilian legal issues as a result of deployment with free legal services in both Michigan and Florida.

Meanwhile, Dean Timmer remains heavily involved in the Michigan legal community. She is currently a hearing panelist for the State Bar of Michigan District E Character and Fitness Committee, a hearing panelist and chair for the Attorney Discipline Board, a Fellow at the Michigan State Bar Foundation, a member of the State Bar of Michigan Special Committee on Grievance, and a member of the Pro Bono Initiative's Pro Bono Month workgroup. She also served on the Board of Tellers for the State Bar of Michigan.

Thanks to Dean Timmer's passion and dedication, the next generation of lawyers is well equipped to serve those in need.

—Benjamin Ensroth

Do you have a Pro Bono or Community Service story to share?
it today to be included in our "A Lawyer Helps" story bank.

Amy Timmer
Amy Timmer



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