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Pro Bono Service Program: FAQs

What is the Pro Bono Service Requirement?

It is a requirement that JD students must perform at least 50 hours of pro bono service through a project that has been approved by the Director in order to graduate.

What kind of service qualifies for credit toward the requirement?

In order to qualify for credit towards the requirement, the pro bono service must be law-related. In addition, students may not receive financial compensation or academic credit for providing pro bono service. Moreover, a licensed attorney or other qualified supervisor must adequately supervise and review all of the student’s work. The service must be:

(1) on behalf of people who cannot afford to pay for legal services, have limited access to legal services, or are underserved by the private bar, or
(2) aimed at protecting the rights of an individual or individuals in situations raising important public interest concerns and/or important rights belonging to a significant and underserved segment of the public.

Government work, including working for the district attorney or public defender (or their federal/local equivalents) qualifies for credit towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement under our definition of pro bono. Judicial internships, however, do NOT qualify for credit towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement because they do not fall within the parameters of pro bono service for the law school's program.

When can a student begin work on the requirement?

Students can start work on the requirement beginning in the second full-time semester of the 1L year of law school. Traditional 3-year law students who start school in the Fall can begin pro bono work in the Spring semester of the first year. 3-year law students who start school in the summer can begin pro bono work in the Spring of the first year. Accelerated “Fast-Forward” law students can begin pro bono work in the Fall of the first year.

When must students complete the requirement?

The 50 required hours of pro bono service, as well as submission of all required time sheets and evaluation forms, must be completed, at the latest, on the last day of classes of the student’s final semester of law school.

What happens if the 50-hour Pro Bono Service Requirement is not met?

The mandatory Pro Bono Service Requirement is required for graduation. If the requirement is not completed, the student will not be allowed to graduate or be certified for admission to the bar.

How is a Pro Bono project selected?

After researching the available pro bono opportunities listed on the Pro Bono Opportunities page, students must select a pro bono project and notify the Director of their selection. Students seeking guidance can meet with the Director to discuss all of the Program’s existing options. Students wanting to initiate new projects or student organization pro bono projects must meet with the Director to approve such opportunities.

Do all hours of service have to be on one project or may they be on more than one project?

Students have the option of performing all their hours on one project or electing to provide services on more than one project. Note that not all pro bono projects are structured to yield 50 hours of work.

What forms have to be filled out and returned to the Director for Public Interest Programs?

To receive credit for pro bono service, all required forms must be completed and returned to the Director for Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs:

Can I get credit for training hours if I don’t end up doing work for that project?

No. Training is connected to service and you may only get credit for training hours if you participate in the project.

Does travel time count?

No. Travel time does not count. If you have an exceptional circumstance, please meet with the Director for special consideration.

Does work performed for a public interest co-op placement or clinic qualify for credit towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement?

Work performed for a public interest co-op placement or clinic will not qualify for credit towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement. However, with approval from the Director, work performed beyond the requirements of a co-op placement or clinic, so long as it meets the definition of pro bono service, will qualify for credit.

If I receive a Public Interest Summer Stipend or Work Study, does work performed at my summer internship qualify for credit towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement?

Work funded by a Public Interest Summer Stipend or Work Study will not qualify for credit towards the Pro Bono Requirement. However, with approval from the Director, work performed beyond the terms of the Summer Stipend or Work Study, so long as it meets the definition of pro bono service, will qualify for credit.

Does work performed on a political campaign qualify towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement?

No. Work performed on a political campaign does not qualify for credit towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement because it does not fall with the parameters of pro bono service for the law school's program.

Does an uncompensated summer judicial internship qualify for credit towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement?

No.  Judicial internships do not qualify for credit towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement because they do not fall within the parameters of pro bono service for the law school's program. However, court projects assisting pro se litigants are eligible for pro bono credit.

Does uncompensated work for an attorney in private practice qualify for credit towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement?

Uncompensated work performed for an attorney in private practice will qualify for credit towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement so long as the attorney is handling the case as a pro bono matter, meaning the attorney is not receiving compensation for the work performed and the case itself falls within the parameters of pro bono service for the law school's program.

Does judging or acting as a bailiff for mock trial and moot court competitions qualify for credit towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement?

No. Some full time coaching and teaching (such as Marshall-Brennan) may count, but, in general, simply judging a competition or acting as a bailiff does not qualify for credit towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement.

Does research help for a professor qualify for credit towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement?

Assisting a professor on scholarship generally does not count. However, if a professor is doing work that would otherwise qualify under our definition of pro bono service, and you are assisting on that project, then it will qualify for credit towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement.

If I am sitting for the bar in a state with a pro bono admissions requirement, how do I know if my pro bono work during law school will meet that state requirement?

While most of our projects will meet state pro bono bar admission requirements, please meet with the Director to review the state requirement and confirm that you have a pro bono project that will satisfy it.