The Pro Bono Program: Frequently Asked Questions

The Pro Bono Program: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What type of work qualifies as pro bono?

  2. Does work performed for a law school clinic or externship program qualify as pro bono?

  3. Does work for a law school faculty member qualify as pro bono?

  4. Does non-legal volunteer work qualify as pro bono?

  5. Does work done for my summer employer qualify as pro bono?

  6. Does volunteering with a public service student organization qualify as pro bono?

  7. Do judicial clerkships qualify as pro bono?

  8. Does teaching in a mock trial or Street Law program qualify as pro bono?

  9. Is work for a political campaign pro bono?

  10. Can I get pro bono credit for poll monitoring?

  11. Does translation work qualify as pro bono?

  12. Can I log training hours?

  13. Can travel time for a pro bono project be logged?

  14. Can I develop my own pro bono project?

  15. Is completion of the Pro Bono Challenge required for graduation?

  16. Can I volunteer more than 75 hours?

  17. Do I need to perform 25 hours annually in order to meet the Challenge or can I complete 75 hours in a single semester or year?

  18. May I volunteer for more than one pro bono project at a time?

  19. How do I log my hours for the Pro Bono Challenge?

  20. How does my supervisor submit a project in GoodWorks?

  21. When do I need to log my hours in order to qualify for the Pro Bono Challenge?

  22. Can 1Ls participate in the pro bono program?

  23. Can LL.M.s participate in the pro bono program?

  24. Will hours logged for the Pro Bono Challenge qualify for the New York Bar Pro Bono Admission Requirement?

 

1. What type of work qualifies as pro bono?

  • Law-related and non-clerical (legal research and writing, legislative drafting, client intake or trial preparation);
  • On behalf of a legal services provider, nonprofit organization (501(c)(3) or (4)), governmental agency, or a private firm providing pro bono services;
  • Supervised by an attorney or law school faculty member;
  • Not performed for academic credit or financial compensation; and
  • Completed while the student is enrolled at the Law School.

2. Does work performed for a law school clinic or externship program qualify as pro bono?

Work performed for a clinic providing legal assistance to underrepresented individuals or organizations, supervised by a faculty member, and not done for academic credit, qualifies as pro bono. Any externship hours performed beyond the hours required for credit also may be counted as pro bono. For example, if your externship requires you to work 10 hours a week and you work 20, the additional 10 hours qualify as pro bono. You must obtain written approval from both the clinical or externship supervisor and the Assistant Dean for Pro Bono before logging your hours.

3. Does work for a law school faculty member qualify as pro bono?

Hours spent working on a faculty member’s pro bono project (amicus brief or policy paper) can be logged for the Challenge. Research assistance with academic or scholarly work is not pro bono. Work that is compensated financially or with academic credit does not qualify as pro bono.

4. Does non-legal volunteer work qualify as pro bono?

Pro bono work must necessitate the use of legal skills. Community service such as tutoring, mentoring, participating in food drives or community build days is not pro bono. Doing public service work in addition to pro bono is encouraged and those hours may be counted for purposes of a PILA Grant.

5. Does work done for my summer employer qualify as pro bono?

Summer work, compensated or not, may not be logged as pro bono unless it is done in addition to work normally required by the summer employer. For example, if you complete a pro bono assignment for your firm, those hours would not qualify because they were done as part of your normal job. However, if you volunteered for an additional pro bono project to be completed outside of your regular work hours, those hours could be logged for the Challenge. Similarly, if you volunteer to continue with your summer employer beyond the required number of weeks, those extra hours would qualify as pro bono. Any qualifying hours done on behalf of an organization other than your summer employer can also be counted as pro bono.

All summer pro bono hours must be approved in advance by emailing probono@law.virginia.edu.

6. Does volunteering with a public service student organization qualify as pro bono?

If the student organization has an attorney or faculty supervisor and the work otherwise qualifies as pro bono, time spent volunteering for the organization or administering the project can be logged for the Challenge. Fundraising or clerical work on behalf of a student organization is not pro bono.

7. Do judicial clerkships qualify as pro bono?

Clerking or interning for a federal, state, or local judge does not qualify as pro bono. Volunteer hours performed on behalf of a court sponsored program (Drug Treatment Court) that serves pro se litigants or indigent clients can be logged toward the Challenge.

8. Does teaching in a mock trial or Street Law program qualify as pro bono?

Teaching in law-related programs designed for students of limited financial means qualifies as pro bono. Mock trial and other educational programs provided for non-disadvantaged student populations may not be logged. Such programs provided for university or college students generally do not qualify as pro bono.

9. Is work for a political campaign pro bono?

Fundraising and other partisan work on behalf of a political campaign does not qualify as pro bono. However, law-related work with a federal, state, or local legislator’s office or for a legislative committee or commission can count toward the Challenge.

10. Can I get pro bono credit for poll monitoring?

Poll monitoring or observing at voting sites must necessitate the use of legal skills to count as pro bono. For example, hours spent developing law-related materials to educate voters, legal research, and drafting or follow-up on voting rights cases could be logged for the Challenge. Work that is routinely performed by non-lawyers is not pro bono.

11. Does translation work qualify as pro bono?

Hours volunteered to provide written or oral translation of legal documents/proceedings on behalf of a pro bono client may be logged for the Challenge. All qualifying translation work must necessitate the use of legal skills or knowledge.

12. Can I log training hours?

Training that is required for participation in a pro bono project qualifies for the Challenge. However, training hours may not be logged until an equal or greater number of hours have been performed for the project.

13. Can travel time for a pro bono project be logged?

Travel time in conjunction with a pro bono project may not be logged.

14. Can I develop my own pro bono project?

Law students are encouraged to create their own pro bono projects. Contact the staff of the Pro Bono Program (probono@law.virginia.edu) for assistance and advance approval of your project.

15. Is completion of the Pro Bono Challenge required for graduation?

The Pro Bono Challenge is a voluntary program and not a requirement for graduation. However, all students are strongly encouraged to participate in pro bono during their time at the Law School. Students who complete the 75-hour Challenge (25 hours for LL.M. students) will be recognized at graduation and receive a certificate of achievement signed by the Dean.

16. Can I volunteer more than 75 hours?

Students may complete as many hours of pro bono service as they would like during their time at the Law School. However, a minimum of 75 hours (25 hours for LL.M. students) is required to be logged in order to meet the Challenge.

17. Do I need to perform 25 hours annually in order to meet the Challenge or can I complete 75 hours in a single semester or year?

You do not need to log 25 hours annually, although students who complete 25 hours by the end of their first year and 50 hours by the end of their second year will be recognized. Students must log at least 75 hours (25 hours for LL.M. students) by May 1 of their graduation year in order to meet the Challenge.

18. May I volunteer for more than one pro bono project at a time?

Students may volunteer for more than one pro bono project, however, it is advisable to start with just one before deciding to take on additional work.

19. How do I log my hours for the Pro Bono Challenge?

Students log their pro bono hours by submitting an online work log and completing the student evaluation through GoodWorks.

20. How does my supervisor submit a project in GoodWorks?

To register a pro bono project in GoodWorks, supervisors need to submit a Pro Bono Project Request form. They will have the option of listing you as the volunteer for the project. Once the form is approved, you will be able to log your hours in GoodWorks.

21. When do I need to log my hours in order to qualify for the Pro Bono Challenge?

Your work log should be submitted through GoodWorks at the conclusion of each pro bono project. All logs must be completed by the last day of classes in April, even if you intend to continue volunteering on the same project over the course of the summer or during the next academic year.

22. Can 1Ls participate in the pro bono program?

All students are encouraged to volunteer for a pro bono project as soon as they feel ready. Many students will do pro bono during the fall of their first year, but others will wait until winter break or the spring semester. Before taking on a pro bono project, assess your ability to commit to volunteering in addition to your academic and other commitments. Some pro bono projects are not offered to first-year students due to the need for more advanced legal skills.

23. Can LL.M.s participate in the pro bono program?

All students are encouraged to participate in the Pro Bono Program regardless of class year or career plans. LL.M. students who log at least 25 hours will meet the Pro Bono Challenge. LL.M.’s can participate in pro bono work to earn hours for New York Bar admission requirement or to be recognized at graduation for completing the Challenge.

24. Will hours logged for the Pro Bono Challenge qualify for the New York Bar Pro Bono Admission Requirement?

While the rules for the New York Bar Pro Bono Requirement and the Pro Bono Program are similar there are important differences. Some hours logged to meet the Challenge will not qualify as pro bono under the New York rule. All pro bono hours that you plan to use to fulfill the New York requirement must be verified with an Affidavit of Compliance. More

 Wes Williams

Wes Williams '22

"Experiencing firsthand the power that lawyers can wield on behalf of someone who the system has treated unfairly reminded me why I came to law school in the first place."