The Pro Bono Program helps students to identify areas of pro bono interest and to find projects. Pro bono opportunities include assisting victims of domestic violence and immigrants seeking asylum as well as policy advocacy and cutting edge impact litigaton. The staff of the Pro Bono Program solicits, develops and administers pro bono clinics and projects. Pro bono opportunities are publicized with email alerts and on GoodWorks.
Through ongoing partnerships with law firms, nonprofit organizations, law school clinics, and governmental agencies, the Pro Bono Program provides volunteer opportunities which mimic the structure and learning goals of an academic clinic. These projects typically require a semester or year-long commitment and offer complex legal work in conjunction with ongoing training, mentoring and supervision. The number of projects is limited and the application process competitive.
Examples of in-house projects include the Hunton Andrews Kurth Pro Bono Partnership (see below), Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center, the Federal Public Defender, Legal Aid Justice Center, Piedmont Court Appointed Special Advocates, Rutherford Institute and the Virginia Innocence Project Pro Bono Clinic.
Students work under supervision by attorneys from the firm’s Richmond office and the associate in the firm’s Charlottesville Pro Bono Office to assist victims of domestic violence with protective orders, child support and custody/visitation issues. Other projects include factual and legal research in cases for clients with immigration and/or housing law issues. (More)
Ad Hoc Pro Bono
Shorter-term projects with discrete time commitments are routinely made available to law student volunteers. Available on a first-come, first-served basis with a variety of local and national organizations. Recent offerings include: Wills for Seniors, Veteran’s Legal Clinic, Albemarle and Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney’s offices, Sin Barreras, Environmental Forest Institute, Lawyers’ Collective, and WomenEnabled.
Student Organization–Sponsored Projects
Pro bono projects can be sponsored by student groups with the supervision of an attorney or law school faculty member. Current opportunities include the Migrant Farmworker Project; StreetLaw; Law Innovation, Security and Technology (LIST); and the Virginia Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA).
Winter Break Pro Bono Projects
With the support and guidance of the Pro Bono Program, law students volunteer during the winter and/or spring break. These opportunities allow students to spend a concentrated period of time with an organization while also exploring potential career options. In 2018, 147 students participated in the Winter Break Pro Bono Program, volunteering over 6,600 hours at 109 organizations across the country.
Alternative Spring Break Program (ASB)
Coordinated by the Public Interest Law Association (PILA), ASB offers pro bono trips which involve projects in rural, inner city or other underserved areas. Previous ASB spring break pro bono projects have included legal aid, nonprofit and public defender organizations in Charlottesville; the Bronx, New York; Richmond, Virginia; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Jackson, Mississippi.
This national database, designed to facilitate student public service and pro bono work, includes more than 200 law school members and more than 13,000 public service organizations. Students can visit psjd.org to open a free account and search for potential sponsoring organizations or pro bono opportunities in various geographic or substantive law areas.