The Pro Bono Program coordinates with national, state, and local nonprofit organizations, pro bono attorneys, law faculty, student public service groups, and individual students to develop a wide selection of volunteer opportunities. We strive to ensure that every Virginia law student can find a pro bono project that meets their personal and professional goals. Students can choose from opportunities such as assisting victims of domestic violence, counseling immigrants seeking asylum, developing impact litigation strategies for civil rights, or advocating for a client wrongly convicted of a crime.
How to find a project:
- Check your e-mail for weekly announcements from firstname.lastname@example.org of new pro bono projects
- Log into GoodWorks to apply for posted projects
- Join a student organization that offers supervised pro bono opportunities for its members
- Set up your free student account on PSJD
- Contact your professors or UVA Law alums to see if they need assistance with qualifying pro bono work.
Some projects offered by the Pro Bono Program require a semester or year-long commitment and a specific number of volunteer hours each week. These opportunities allow student volunteers to engage in complex legal work with ongoing training, mentoring, and supervision. The number of these types of projects is limited and the application process can be competitive.
- Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office
- Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney's Office
- Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Virginia
- Legal Aid Justice Center, Community Justice Project
- Legal Aid Justice Center, JustChildren Intake
- Marine Corps University Command and Staff College
- Piedmont Court Appointed Special Advocates (PCASA)
- Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center
Virginia Innocence Project Pro Bono Clinic (More)
In addition, short-term or ad-hoc projects with flexible time commitments are continuously posted on GoodWorks. Postings from recent years include:
- Albemarle-Charlottesville Public Defender's Office
- Animal Legal Defense Fund
- Central Virginia Legal Aid Society
- Environmental and Regulatory Law Clinic
- ForthRight Legal
- International Human Rights Law Clinic
- Colorado Office of the Alternate Defense Counsel
- The Rutherford Institute
- San Francisco District Attorney's Office
- Veteran's Legal Clinic
- Virginia Poverty Law Center
- Wills for Seniors
- Women Enabled
Student Initiated Pro Bono Projects
Student public service organizations are another source of pro bono opportunities. For example, the Migrant Farm Workers Project recruits student volunteers to visit farm workers in local camps to discuss their legal rights, the Domestic Violence Project places volunteers in local Commonwealth Attorney’s offices to assist victims of domestic violence obtain court protection from abuse, and the Street Law Program visits public schools to teach students about constitutional law and to practice oral advocacy skills through mock trial events.
Other student organizations at UVA Law that offer pro bono work include: Black Law Students Association (BLSA); Child Advocacy Research and Education; Health Law Association; International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP); Lambda Law Alliance; Latin American Law Organization; Law Innovation, Security and Technology (LIST); National Lawyers Guild; Virginia Animal Law Society; and Virginia Employment and Labor Law Association.
Winter and Spring Break Pro Bono
Many law students choose to volunteer over their winter or spring break. Winter break pro bono projects, developed in conjunction with the staff of the Pro Bono Program, offer the opportunity to do pro bono for concentrated period of time over the course of a week or two.
In 2020, 135 students participated in the Winter Break Pro Bono Program, volunteering over 6,000 hours at 98 organizations across the country.
Coordinated by the Public Interest Law Association (PILA), the Alternative Spring Break program (ASB) offers a number of pro bono trips during the Law School’s spring break in March. These trips provide students with the opportunity to volunteer for projects with legal services providers, nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies across the country often in rural or inner city locations. Past trips have included: Richmond, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Bronx, NY; Charlotte, Durham, and Greensboro, North Carolina; Whitesburg, KY; and New Orleans, Louisiana. More
PSJD is a searchable database of more than 12,000 public service and nonprofit organizations from around the world designed to facilitate student public service and pro bono work. PSJD allows students to access information and contacts for thousands of potential host organizations. In addition, the database can be used to search for organizations geographically or by substantive areas of law. Students can register for a free account at psjd.org.
Finally, while GoodWorks and other databases, like PSJD, are a source of possible projects, many public service organizations, legal services providers, or even government agencies don’t actively recruit pro bono volunteers. Nevertheless, these organizations are often excited to host a student volunteer who takes the initiative to reach out to them directly. If you are passionate about a cause and want to volunteer, contact an organization or an attorney directly, or consider starting your own public service student organization. In addition, the staff of the Pro Bono Program has an array of contacts, including public service alumni and many years of experience working with pro bono host organizations. For assistance with finding or developing a pro bono project, you are encouraged to contact us at email@example.com.