Pro Bono Program

 
Information for Pro Bono Attorney Supervisors

*** If you are a member of the general public seeking legal assistance, the Pro Bono Program is unable to help you. Law students may not provide legal advice or practice law without supervision by a licensed attorney. The Pro Bono Program does not have supervising attorneys on staff. Our Seeking Legal Assistance page provides information about pro bono and free legal services in Virginia.***

The Pro Bono Program welcomes supervised pro bono projects for its students. We appreciate your willingness to work with a law student volunteer and to provide them with an opportunity to develop valuable legal skills while serving a client in need. Pro bono is an important part of our students’ legal education and requires training, mentoring, and supervision from our pro bono partners. The Pro Bono Program is unable to provide faculty or other attorney supervisors.

To request the assistance of a student volunteer, please complete our Supervisor-Initiated Pro Bono Project Request Form. All pro bono volunteers must be supervised by a licensed attorney, and assigned work should necessitate the use of legal skills.  Students may not be financially compensated for pro bono work. Appropriate volunteer tasks include:  interviewing witnesses, counseling clients, developing community education materials, drafting court documents or regulations, legal research and writing, analyzing legislation, and/or appearing in court or at an administrative proceeding. Please do not assign clerical tasks to your student volunteer.

You can request specific skills such as foreign languages and courses or clinical work. Remote projects, including research and writing assignments for litigation or other advocacy work, may be submitted.

Be aware of the Law School’s academic schedule with exams in December and May. It is best to submit projects at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters (late-August and mid-January). Semester or year-long projects, with a consistent weekly time commitment of 3-6 hours are ideal. The Pro Bono Program cannot guarantee student availability for any project.

Once your completed Request for Assistance form has been approved, we will send an email alert to students encouraging them to apply. Student applications are forwarded to project supervisors.
 
Supervisor Responsibilities
 

To ensure a positive and productive experience with your student volunteer(s) follow these tips for effective supervision.
  1. Schedule an initial meeting with the student(s) to clarify your expectations for the project. Discuss all relevant deadlines, expectations for professionalism, and appropriate attire, and office policies/ procedures. It is helpful to give the student(s) assignments in writing.
  2. Include your volunteer in case-related activities—particularly meetings with clients, witnesses, or opposing counsel.
  3. Provide substantive feedback on an ongoing basis both to reduce student anxiety and to enhance the volunteer’s ability to produce a quality work product.
  4. Educate your student volunteer about ethical rules in areas such as conflicts, unauthorized practice, and client confidentiality.
  5. Conduct an exit interview with the student to review their performance and provide advice for future pro bono projects.

We ask all project supervisors to complete an evaluation form at the time they approve the student’s pro bono hours (forms are provided via email).

If you have any questions or concerns please contact Assistant Dean for Pro Bono Kimberly Emery at (424) 924-1419 or send an e-mail to lawprobono@virginia.edu.