The Pro Bono Program: Frequently Asked Questions
Can 1Ls participate in the pro bono program?
First-year students are encouraged to get involved in pro bono as early as possible. Many first-year students will do pro bono during the fall semester, but others will decide to wait until the winter break or the spring semester. Before committing to a pro bono project during your first semester, 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 advanced legal skills.
Is the 75-hour Pro Bono Challenge a graduation requirement? Can I do more than 75 hours of pro bono? How do I log my hours for the Pro Bono Challenge?
The Pro Bono Challenge is a voluntary program and not a requirement for graduation. You can do as many hours of pro bono as you like, but you must do at least 75 to be certified as completing the 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. 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. Each of these forms is accessible through GoodWorks.
What type of volunteer work qualifies for the Pro Bono Challenge?
Pro bono work must be:
- law-related and necessitate the use of legal skills (e.g., counseling clients, drafting motions, briefs or legislation, and interviewing witnesses)
- supervised by an attorney or law school faculty member
- on behalf of a nonprofit organization, a legal services organization, a government agency (including both prosecutors and defenders), or a private law firm providing pro bono legal services
- not for academic credit (e.g., classes, clinics or journal activities) or financial compensation
- completed while the student is enrolled at the Law School
How do I find a pro bono project?
The Pro Bono Program strives to find an appropriate pro bono opportunity for every student that requests one. All available projects are advertised to students through email alerts and are viewable in GoodWorks.
A. In-House Projects: These projects require either a semester or yearlong commitment of approximately 3-8 hours per week. They offer students hands-on experience with a variety of legal tasks including research, writing, client interviewing, and for students with third-year practice certificates, the opportunity for court appearances. Applications are required and space is limited. Examples of such projects include the Hunton & Williams Pro Bono Partnership and the Access to Justice Partnership.
B. Ad-Hoc Projects: These short-term pro bono opportunities are typically initiated by outside organizations, local attorneys or Law School faculty members. These projects generally have more limited and less structured time commitments. Some can be done remotely.
C. Student-Initiated Projects: Students may also develop their own pro bono projects. To begin the process, students should directly contact the organization they wish to volunteer for. If the organization is willing and able to host them as a volunteer, they should complete the appropriate Student-Initiated Pro Bono Project Form using GoodWorks. The form will be submitted to the staff of the Pro Bono Program for approval.
To see a list of where past students have volunteered, please see the retained projects tab in the online pro bono system.
Does work done for a law school clinic qualify as pro bono?
Work done in association with a law school clinic can count as pro bono only if the hours are supervised by a clinical faculty member, the student confirms that they are not currently enrolled in the clinic, and/or they 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) for which the student is uncompensated will qualify. Assistance with the faculty member’s scholarly research does not qualify.
Does work done for my summer employer qualify?
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 the student’s summer employer and the student is uncompensated during the period the work is performed. Summer pro bono projects should be approved in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do judicial clerkships qualify as pro bono?
Clerking for an individual judge does not qualify, but volunteer work for a court program (e.g., drug or family treatment courts) may count if the work otherwise meets the definition of qualifying pro bono. Contact email@example.com to verify that your volunteer assignment with a court will count towards the Pro Bono Challenge.
Does work for a political campaign qualify?
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. Volunteering for a legislative committee also qualifies.
Does translating work qualify?
Translation (written or oral) work that is performed in conjunction with a law-related pro bono case qualifies.
Does travel time qualify?
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.
Does work for a student public service organization qualify?
Work with a student public service organization that is not supervised by an attorney and/or not law-related (such as tutoring, donating blood, fund-raising, home-building projects, or Big Brother/Big Sister) does not qualify for the Pro Bono Challenge. Any appropriately supervised work necessitating the use of legal skills will qualify. If you have a question as to whether or not a particular project qualifies, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org before volunteering.