Attorneys Supervising Student Pro Bono Volunteers

Attorneys Supervising Student Pro Bono Volunteers

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

Pro bono projects for law students must be supervised by a licensed attorney.  Projects should be law-related and necessitate the use of legal skills. Appropriate pro bono assignments might include interviewing witnesses/clients, developing community education materials, drafting legal documents, providing research, analyzing legislation, or assisting in court. Student volunteers may not be assigned clerical or fundraising tasks. Pro bono volunteers may not receive monetary compensation for their pro bono work. Work done on behalf of paying clients does not qualify as pro bono.

Student volunteers may assist with short-term projects or commit to a defined number of hours each week throughout a semester. Projects should have a time commitment of no more than 3-5 hours/week during the academic year. 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)
  4. Uncompensated: students do 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 you for screening and volunteer selection. The pro bono projects posted on GoodWorks will also be publicized to students through a weekly email alert. At the conclusion of each project supervisors are asked to confirm pro bono hours and submit a short evaluation of the student work.

* 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 probono@law.virginia.edu

Checklist for Effective Attorney Supervisors

  1. Schedule a meeting to discuss the substance of the project, as well as training, deadlines, and office policies/ procedures.
  2. Confirm how you will communicate with your volunteer (e.g. email, phone, Zoom, or in-person meetings).
  3. Educate your volunteer about the rules of professional responsibility, especially for conflicts, unauthorized practice, and client confidentiality.  Provide them with copies of relevant policies to review. Discuss email protocol. Be alert to the fact that student volunteers may have previous clinical experiences, externships or summer jobs, which could create a conflict.
  4. Include your volunteer, whenever possible, in case-related activities—meetings with clients, witnesses, or opposing counsel.
  5. Provide substantive feedback on an ongoing basis.  Regular communication reduces volunteer anxiety and enhances the 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.
  7. Complete and submit our evaluation form and approve volunteer’s pro bono hours. You will be emailed a link to these forms.

Questions or concerns?  Contact Assistant Dean for Pro Bono and Public Interest, Kimberly Emery at (434) 924-1419 or probono@law.virginia.edu.