The Pro Bono Program: Frequently Asked Questions
Is the 75-hour Pro Bono Challenge a graduation requirement?
The Pro Bono Challenge is a voluntary program and not a requirement for graduation. However, all students are strongly encouraged to participate during their time at the Law School.
Can I do more than 75 hours of pro bono?
You can do as many hours of pro bono as you like, but you must log a minimum of 75 hours (25 hours for LLM students) in order to complete the Pro Bono Challenge.
In order to meet the Pro Bono Challenge, do students need to perform 25 hours per year or can all 75 hours be completed in a single academic year?
You do not need to log 25 hours each year to meet the Pro Bono Challenge and you can certainly volunteer more than this suggested annual minimum. To meet the Challenge, you must simply have logged at least 75 hours by May 1 by your 3L year.
Can 1Ls participate in the pro bono program?
First-year students are encouraged to do pro bono as soon as they feel ready. Many first-year students will do pro bono during the fall semester, but others will wait until winter break or the spring semester. Before committing to a pro bono project, consider your ability to successfully take on such a project in addition to your academic and other commitments. Some projects are not available to first-year students due to the need for more advanced legal skills.
Can LL.M.s participate in the pro bono program?
LL.M. students are welcome and encouraged to do pro bono. LLMs who log at least 25 hours will be recognized as meeting the Pro Bono Challenge.
How do I log my hours for the Pro Bono Challenge?
In order for your hours to count towards the Pro Bono Challenge, you must submit an online work log at the completion of the project. All hours for the year must be submitted by the last day of classes in the spring. Before your hours can be approved, you must also complete a student evaluation. You will not be able to log any hours until you have completed an online student volunteer agreement. All of these forms are accessible through GoodWorks.
Does work done for a Law School clinic qualify as pro bono?
Work done in association with a law school clinic qualifies as pro bono only if the hours are supervised by a clinical faculty member, you confirm that you are not currently enrolled in the clinic, and/or provide written verification that the work is not being done for academic credit.
Can work for a Law School faculty member qualify as pro bono?
Volunteering for a faculty member on a pro bono matter (e.g., amicus brief or policy advocacy project) will qualify as pro bono. Assistance with the faculty member’s academic or scholarly research does not qualify. You may not receive any financial compensation for hours to be counted as pro bono.
Does non-legal volunteer work qualify as pro bono?
Non-legal work such as tutoring, mentoring, or participating in a community build day does not qualify as pro bono. Such work may qualify as public service hours for purposes of the PILA Grant application process.
Does work done for my summer employer qualify as pro bono?
Pro bono work completed over the summer will qualify for the Pro Bono Challenge only if it is done in addition to any work normally required by your summer employer. You may not be financially compensated during the period the work is performed. Pro bono work done while a summer associate at a law firm does not qualify unless it is done on your own time outside of regularly scheduled working hours. Summer pro bono projects should be approved in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does coordinating a student pro bono project qualify as pro bono?
If the project and the associated work qualify as pro bono, time spent administering other students’ involvement with the project may be logged toward the Pro Bono Challenge. Hours spent on fundraising may not be logged as pro bono. The project’s supervising attorney or faculty member must sign off on all students’ hours.
Do judicial clerkships qualify as pro bono?
Clerking or interning for an individual judge does not qualify, but volunteer work for a court program that assists pro se litigants may count if the work otherwise meets the definition of qualifying pro bono.
Does participation in a mock trial program qualify as pro bono?
Participation in mock trial programs supporting low-income or disadvantaged students may qualify, however, programs directed at undergraduates generally will not qualify.
Does work for a political campaign qualify as pro bono?
Fundraising and other organizing projects for a partisan campaign are not considered pro bono. Nonpartisan poll monitoring that has attorney supervision can qualify for pro bono credit.
Does translating work qualify as pro bono?
Translation (written or oral) of legal documents and/or proceedings that is performed in conjunction with a pro bono project and is attorney supervised qualifies as pro bono.
Does travel time qualify as pro bono?
Training and travel time directly related to the provision of pro bono services qualifies (e.g., travel to other law offices, jails or detention centers, etc.). Travel time to and from the pro bono work site does not qualify.
Can I set up my own pro bono project?
You can set up a pro bono project, however, before you begin volunteering, please contact the Pro Bono Program (email@example.com) to be sure your project will qualify for the Challenge.
May I work at more than one pro bono placement?
You may volunteer for more than one project at a time, but are encouraged to start with just one to make sure you have the time to take on additional work.
Will the hours I log for the Pro Bono Challenge qualify for the New York State Bar Pro Bono Requirement?
Maybe. The New York State Bar Pro Bono Requirement differs from the Law School’s Pro Bono Challenge and not all hours that count for one program qualify for the other. Please review the New York Bar Pro Bono Admission Requirement page of our website for further information.
If you have questions that are not covered here, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule an appointment with Assistant Dean Kimberly Emery using Symplicity.