How to Find a Pro Bono Opportunity
The Pro Bono Program strives to provide every interested student with an appropriate pro bono project. New project opportunities are advertised to students through email alerts.
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, although they require less of a time commitment. These projects typically require a semester- or a yearlong 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 and/or law school faculty members. The number of volunteers for each project is limited and the application process is competitive. Projects are typically filled early in the fall semester. They are advertised through e-mail alerts and information sessions. Available in-house projects for 2012-13 are listed below.
Access to Justice Partnership – The partnership is a collaboration among the Law School, the Legal Aid Justice Center, Central Virginia Legal Services and the Charlottesville-Albemarle Bar Association to provide pro bono services to low-income clients. This project offers selected second- and third-year law students the unique opportunity to partner with legal aid attorneys and members of the local bar to provide much needed legal services to indigent families, with particular focus on the "new poor" and those in the "gap" between meeting legal aid eligibility and being able to afford legal representation. The partnership will address legal issues faced by low-income clients such as housing, employment, restoration of voting rights, no fault divorce and bankruptcy.
Hunton & Williams Pro Bono Partnership – Under the supervision of attorneys from the 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 asylum or other immigration 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.
Medical-Legal Partnership – Student volunteers are trained to conduct legal intake and case follow-up with patient families being treated at the UVA Children’s Hospital or its affiliated clinics.
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.
Ad-Hoc Pro Bono Opportunities These shorter-term pro bono opportunities are publicized to students through email alerts. They have limited time commitments and are generally available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Student-Initiated Pro Bono Opportunities Students may also develop their own pro bono projects. Projects must be supervised by an attorney or a Law School faculty member to qualify for pro bono credit. Student-initiated pro bono projects should be approved in advance by emailing email@example.com.
Winter and Spring Break Pro Bono Projects With the support of the Pro Bono Program, students arrange individual short-term pro bono opportunities for the winter or spring breaks. These projects allow students to spend more concentrated periods of time working on a project while also exploring potential career options. Spring break pro bono trips are sponsored by the Public Interest Law Association (PILA), and involve weeklong projects to rural or other underserved areas. In 2012, 60 students participated in spring break pro bono projects with legal aid and public defender organizations in Charlottesville, Richmond, North Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Orleans, New York and Washington, D.C.
PSLawNet This national database, designed to facilitate student public service and pro bono work, includes over 100 law school members and more than 10,000 public service organizations. Students can visit http://pslawnet.org to open a free account and search for potential sponsoring organizations or unpaid internships in different geographic or substantive law areas.