Information for Pro Bono Attorney Supervisors
*** If you are an individual seeking legal assistance, the Law School’s Pro Bono Program is unable to help you. Law students are not yet licensed and therefore must be supervised by an attorney in order to provide legal advice or services. The Pro Bono Program does not have supervising attorneys on staff. Please go to Seeking Legal Assistance for information regarding pro bono legal services in Virginia.***
The Pro Bono Program seeks quality pro bono opportunities for its students. We welcome your interest in having our law students volunteer at your organization or 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’ legal education. Our goal is to ensure that students receive appropriate training, mentoring and attorney supervision. If you would like to request the assistance of a student pro bono volunteer, please complete our Supervisor-Initiated Pro Bono Project Request Form.
Pro bono projects should necessitate the use of legal skills. Appropriate volunteers tasks include interviewing witnesses, counseling clients, developing legal community education materials, drafting court documents or regulations, legal research and writing, analyzing legislation, or appearing in court or at an administrative proceeding. Law student volunteers should not be assigned clerical tasks. Your pro bono request for assistance can specify special skills such as foreign languages or students who have taken specific law school courses. Once your completed form has been submitted and approved, an email alert will be sent to students encouraging them to apply. Student applications are forwarded to project supervisors for screening and volunteer selection.
Before requesting the assistance of a law student volunteer, be aware of the Law School’s academic schedule. Law students have exams in December and May. Therefore, 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). The Pro Bono Program cannot guarantee student availability for any project. Pro bono projects that are either a semester or year-long, and which require a consistent time commitment of 3-6 hours a week work best. Short-term research and writing projects that can be done remotely are also attractive to students.
To ensure that your experience with your student volunteer is as positive and productive as possible, the Pro Bono Program offers the following tips for effective supervision.
- Schedule an initial meeting with the student(s) to clarify your expectations for the project. This discussion should include all relevant deadlines, expectations for professionalism, and appropriate attire, and office policies/ procedures. It is helpful to give the student(s) assignments in writing.
- Include your volunteer in case-related activities—particularly meetings with clients, witnesses, or opposing counsel.
- 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.
- Educate your student volunteer about ethical rules in areas such as conflicts, unauthorized practice, and client confidentiality. A student volunteer who does not receive appropriate supervision can put you at risk for malpractice liability.
- Conduct an exit interview with the student to review performance and provide advice for future pro bono projects.
The Pro Bono Program encourages all project supervisors to complete an evaluation form at the time they sign the student’s pro bono work log (both forms will be provided via email).
If you have any questions or concerns about the Pro Bono Program or your student volunteer, please contact Assistant Dean for Pro Bono Kimberly Emery at (424) 924-1419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.