Pro Bono Program

 
Information for Pro Bono Attorney Supervisors

*** If you are a member of the general public seeking legal assistance, we are unable to provide you with a student volunteer. All law students MUST be supervised by an attorney in order to provide legal advice or services. Please see our Seeking Legal Assistance page for further guidance regarding free legal services.***

The Pro Bono Program is always looking for quality pro bono opportunities for our students. We welcome your interest in having our law students volunteer at your organization or law firm. 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’ education, and therefore we require that all volunteers are supervised by a licensed attorney. Our goal is to guarantee that students receive adequate training, mentoring and feedback. If you would like to request the assistance of a student pro bono volunteer, please complete our Supervisor-Initiated Pro Bono Project Request Form.

All projects must be law-related and involve the use of legal skills such as interviewing witnesses, counseling clients, drafting court documents or regulations, legal research and writing, analyzing legislation or appearing in court or administrative proceedings. Law student volunteers should not be assigned clerical tasks. You can also request students who have special skills such as foreign languages or who have taken specific law school courses. Once your completed form is returned and approved, we will send an email alert to students encouraging them to apply. Student applications are forwarded to project supervisors for screening and volunteer selection.
 
When requesting the assistance of a law student, please be aware of the Law School’s academic schedule. Students have exams in December and in early May. It is best to submit projects at the beginning of the semester (late-August for the fall semester) or (mid-January for the spring semester). We cannot guarantee student availability for any project. The best pro bono opportunities for law students are either semester or year-long projects that require a consistent time commitment of 3-6 hours a week. Short-term research and writing projects that can be done remotely in conjunction with either a pending case or other advocacy work also work well.
 
To ensure that your experience with your student volunteer is as positive and productive as possible, please review the following suggestions for effective supervision.

  1. As soon as you have selected your volunteer(s), schedule an initial meeting with the student(s) to clarify your expectations for the project. This discussion should include all relevant deadlines, your expectations for professionalism, prioritizing of assignments, appropriate attire and office policies/ procedures. It can be helpful to give the student(s) assignments in writing.
  2. When possible, 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 anxiety and to enhance the student’s ability to produce a quality work product. 
  4. Educate your volunteer about ethical rules in areas such as conflicts, unauthorized practice and client confidentiality. A student volunteer who does not seek/receive appropriate supervision can put you at risk for malpractice liability.

At the conclusion of the project, conduct an exit interview with your student to discuss performance and offer any advice for future projects. We also ask that our supervisors complete an evaluation form and sign the student’s pro bono work log (both of which will be provided via email).

If you have any questions or concerns about your student volunteer, please contact Assistant Dean for Pro Bono Kimberly Emery at (424) 924-1419 or lawprobono@virginia.edu.