Pro Bono Challenge

Law students are encouraged to volunteer beginning as early as their first semester of law school. The Pro Bono Challenge recognizes those students who complete 75 hours or more of pro bono before they graduate (25 hours for LL.M. students). Students who have logged at least 75 hours are honored at commencement and receive a Dean-signed certificate of recognition. In 2024, 95 graduates completed the Challenge (Class of 2024). In addition, the graduate who best demonstrates an “extraordinary commitment to pro bono service” is honored with the annual Pro Bono Award. 1Ls who log at least 25 hours in their first year and 2Ls who log at least 50 hours by the end of their second year are also commended for their service. (Class of 2025 - 2L Update/Class of 2026 Update).

The Pro Bono Project matches students with legal services providers, governmental agencies, and other nonprofit organizations, where they volunteer to assist with law-related work such as conducting client interviews, drafting legal documents, preparing community education materials, or drafting legislative policy. Time commitments for pro bono projects vary.  Some projects offer short-term commitments of 5-15 hours; while others are opportunities to volunteer for an entire semester or the full year. Winter and spring break projects provide students the chance to take a deeper dive into pro bono service with a full-time volunteer experience over the course of one to two weeks. Pro bono projects are designed with student class schedules and other commitments in mind.

New pro bono postings are emailed to students by the Pro Bono Office on a weekly basis. By participating in pro bono service and logging hours toward the Pro Bono Challenge, students help clients in need, gain practical legal skills and build professional networks. All projects posted on GoodWorks qualify as pro bono for purposes of the Pro Bono Challenge. Please note that not all posted opportunities will qualify as pro bono for the New York State Bar’s 50-hour requirement.

To qualify for the Pro Bono Challenge, the pro bono work must be:

  • law-related/non-clerical and necessitating the use of legal skills;
  • supervised by a licensed attorney or law school faculty member;
  • performed on behalf of an indigent client, a nonprofit organization (501(c)(3) or (4)), legal services organization, governmental agency, or a private law firm working on a pro bono basis;
  • uncompensated (financially or with academic credit);
  • completed while the student is enrolled at the Law School

In order for hours to qualify for the Pro Bono Challenge they must be logged in GoodWorks and approved by the project supervisor.

Shweta Kumar

“Unique pro bono projects can also be a valuable way to break into a niche area of law, such as public interest IP or health data privacy.”