Attorneys Supervising Student Pro Bono Volunteers

We appreciate your willingness to supervise a law student volunteer. Pro bono is an important part of our students’ legal education and provides them with opportunities to develop critical legal skills while serving clients in need.

Law student volunteers must be supervised by a licensed attorney who is covered under a malpractice insurance policy that allows a law student pro bono volunteer to fall under the attorney’s coverage.  If a student is volunteering on work assignments from multiple attorneys, the designated project supervisor is responsible for review of the student's work product

Projects assigned to pro bono volunteers should be law-related and necessitate the use of legal skills. Appropriate pro bono assignments include interviewing witnesses/clients, developing community education materials, drafting legal documents, providing research, analyzing legislation, or assisting in court. Clerical or fundraising tasks do not qualify as pro bono.

Student volunteers may not receive any financial compensation or stipend for their pro bono work. In addition, pro bono work may not be part of a student’s job/internship requirements or compensated by academic credit. 

Projects should have a time commitment of no more than 3-5 hours/week during the academic year. Pro bono work may be done in-person or remotely. Law school exams are administered in December and May, so projects submitted at the beginning of an academic semester (late-August and mid-January) generally receive a better response.

To post on our GoodWorks system, pro bono projects must be:

  1. Law-related: require some knowledge of the law and necessitate the use of legal skills;
  2. Supervised by an attorney: providing appropriate training, mentoring, and ensuring compliance with applicable ethical rules and codes of professional conduct;
  3. On behalf of: indigent clients or an under-represented causes or organizations (legal services, governmental agencies or (501 (c) (3) nonprofits); and
  4. Uncompensated: students may not receive financial compensation or academic credit.

Attorneys request a pro bono student volunteer(s) by completing and submitting a project request (Pro Bono Project Request Form). Student applications, including a resume and a brief statement of interest, will be sent to attorneys for screening and volunteer selection. The pro bono projects posted on GoodWorks will be publicized to students through a weekly email alert. At the conclusion of each project the supervising attorney will be asked to verify and approve the volunteer’s pro bono hours and complete an evaluation.

Checklist for Effective Attorney Supervisors

  1. Schedule a meeting with your volunteer at the beginning of the project to discuss expectations, work assignments, training, and deadlines, as well as office policies and procedures.
  2. Confirm how you will communicate with your volunteer (e.g. email, phone, Zoom, or in-person meetings). Discuss appropriate email protocol.
  3. Educate your volunteer about the rules of professional responsibility, especially for conflicts, unauthorized practice, and client confidentiality. Not all volunteers will have taken a course in professional responsibility. *Be alert to the fact that students may have previous clinical experiences, externships or summer jobs, which could create a conflict.
  4. Include your volunteer in case-related activities, for example, meetings with clients, witnesses, or opposing counsel.
  5. Provide substantive feedback on an ongoing basis. Regular communication reduces volunteer anxiety, enhances performance, and improves their final work product.
  6. Conduct an exit interview with your volunteer at the conclusion of the project and offer advice for future pro bono work. Discuss with your volunteer how they can appropriately use pro bono work product as a writing sample.
  7. Complete the evaluation form and approve your volunteer’s pro bono hours, using the forms emailed to you.

* Please note:  We are unable to guarantee student availability for any project. If you would like assistance with developing a pro bono opportunity contact us at [email protected].