How to Find a Pro Bono Opportunity
The Pro Bono Program works to provide every interested student with an appropriate pro bono project. New project opportunities are advertised to students through email alerts and are viewable on GoodWorks.
In-House Projects The Pro Bono Program has developed ongoing partnerships with several law firms and nonprofit organizations. In-house projects share many of the structures and goals of a clinical experience, though they require less of a time commitment. These projects typically require a semester or year-long commitment of approximately 3-8 hours per week. They provide students with the opportunity to do high-quality legal work under the direct supervision of practicing attorneys. The number of volunteers for each project is limited and the application process is competitive. Projects are typically filled early in the fall semester. Examples of in-house projects include:
Systems Change Practicum - This project is a partnership between the Law School and the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) to develop a campaign to improve Virginia’s debt policies in the areas of court debt and zombie debt. Students working in tandem with LAJC attorneys, will gain litigation experience, develop policy advocacy skills, and engage in negotiations with local courts and the Attorney General’s Office.
The "Rock House," home of the Hunton & Williams
Pro Bono Partnership in Charlottesville
Hunton & Williams Pro Bono Partnership –Under the supervision of attorneys from the firm’s Richmond office and the associate in the firm’s Charlottesville Pro Bono Office, students volunteer to assist indigent family law clients with protective orders, child support and custody/visitation issues. Other students will conduct factual and legal research in cases for clients with immigration and/or housing law issues.
Immigrant Jail Outreach Project – Students accompany attorneys from the Washington, D.C.-based Capital Area Immigrants' Rights (CAIR) Coalition to interview clients and to present know-your-rights presentations at a nearby juvenile detention facility and at several regional jails that have a large population of immigrant detainees.
Piedmont Court Appointed Special Advocates (PCASA) – Student volunteers are trained to serve as advocates in the court system for the best interests of children who have been adjudicated to be abused or neglected.
Virginia Innocence Project Student Group Student volunteers assist clinic attorneys in evaluating claims of innocence by prisoners in Virginia, and assessing the appropriate avenues of legal relief available.
Ad-Hoc Pro Bono Opportunities These are shorter-term pro bono opportunities with more limited time commitments than the In-House projects. These projects are available on a first-come, first-served basis. All projects will be publicized through e-mail alerts and will be viewable on Goodworks.
Student-Initiated Pro Bono Opportunities With the support and guidance of the Pro Bono Program, students arrange short-term pro bono projects to be completed during the winter and/or spring break. These opportunities allow students to spend a concentrated period of time working on a project while also exploring potential career options. Alternative Spring Break (ASB) offers pro bono trips sponsored by the Public Interest Law Association (PILA) which involve projects in rural, inner city or other underserved areas. In 2014, over 40 students participated in ASB spring break pro bono projects with legal aid and public defender organizations in Charlottesville, Brooklyn, Biloxi, Richmond, New Orleans and Tucson.
PSJD This national database, designed to facilitate student public service and pro bono work, includes more than 200 law school members and more than 13,000 public service organizations. Students can visit http://psjd.org to open a free account and search for potential sponsoring organizations or unpaid internships in different geographic or substantive law areas.