Established in 1999, the Law School’s Pro Bono Program develops and administers pro bono opportunities for students while responding to the volunteer needs of community groups and other outside organizations such as prosecutors, public defenders, legal services, nonprofits, government agencies and private law firms providing pro bono services. The Pro Bono Program administers several in-house projects, develops and identifies a variety of ad-hoc pro bono opportunities throughout the academic year, and supports winter and spring break pro bono projects.
The American Bar Association encourages all lawyers to aspire to render, without fee, at least 50 hours annually of pro bono legal services. Due to limited government-funded legal services, pro bono has become an essential part of ensuring access to justice for the indigent and underrepresented. The Law School is committed to instilling this ethic of service in its graduates. The Pro Bono Program responds to the professional obligation of lawyers to ensure access to justice by providing law students with an introduction to pro bono before they even enter the profession, with the goal of promoting a lifetime commitment to ensuring access to justice for all.
In addition to being a professional and ethical obligation, pro bono offers many benefits to you as a volunteer. For example, pro bono work enhances your law school experience by connecting the academic work you do in the classroom to the real world of practice. Pro bono is:
- a structured way to gain practical experience in legal research and writing, client interviewing and other advocacy skills
- an opportunity to try different practice areas or career options
- a way to strengthen your resume or to demonstrate relevant work experience and legal skills
- an avenue to attain legal mentoring, career-planning advice and networking opportunities
- an experience that can give you writing samples and/or legal references for your job search
- for personal satisfaction (see sidebar testimonials for what some of our student volunteers had to say about their pro bono experiences)
- Set a goal of completing the 75-hour Pro Bono Challenge.
- Log on to GoodWorks and regularly check for new projects.
- Stay alert for pro bono emails containing updates and information about pro bono opportunities.
- Log all of your pro bono hours using GoodWorks.