Access to Justice on Campus

At the October 13 Champions of Change event, Stanford Law Professor Deborah Rhode noted that it is a “shameful irony that the country with the highest concentration of lawyers in the world does such an abysmal job of ensuring that they are available for the vast majority of low-income people who need them, and whose needs are greatest.”  When millions of people in the United States cannot get legal help that is often critical to their wellbeing and freedom, all parts of the legal profession need to be engaged to address the crisis.  There is no better place to begin than when future lawyers are at the very start of their careers – when they are still in law school. 

Champion Martha Bergmark, President of the Mississippi Center for Justice, noted with some envy that when she was in law school, clinics were only just beginning.  But as most Champions observed on October 13, times have changed and law schools now offer a wide range of opportunities for students to learn about legal issues involving poverty and equal justice, and get hands-on experience helping victims of domestic violence, or people with a criminal record get a second chance, or provide defender services for Native Americans. 

What are law schools really offering?  The U.S. Department of Justice Access to Justice Initiative asked participating law schools to discuss how they are institutionalizing their commitment to pro bono and public service.  They were asked to address two questions: 1) What is your school doing to support a public service ethic in every student?; and 2) What new public service opportunities are you offering in the 2011-12 academic year?  Their answers are below.

Albany Law School Pro Bono Program | Atlanta's John Marshall Law School | Boston University School of Law | Brooklyn Law School | Campbell University School of Law | Chapman University School of Law | Charleston School of Law | Charlotte School of Law | Columbia Law School | Concord Law School of Kaplan University | Cornell Law School | DePaul University College of Law | Duke Law School | The Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University | Elon University School of Law | Emory University School of Law | Florida International University College of Law | Fordham University School of Law | George Washington University Law School | Golden Gate University School of Law | Hofstra Law School | Howard University School of Law | Indiana University Maurer School of Law | Loyola University Chicago School of Law | Loyola Law School – Los Angeles | Loyola University New Orleans College of Law | New York University School of Law | Northeastern University School of Law | Salmon P. Chase College of Law | Northwestern Law | Penn State School of Law | Roger Williams University School of Law | Seattle University School of Law | Seton Hall University School of Law | Southern University Law Center | Southwestern Law School | Stanford Law School | Suffolk University Law School | Syracuse University College of Law | Temple University Beasley School of Law | The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law | The City University of New York School of Law | The University of Akron School of Law | The University of Denver Sturm College of Law | The University of Iowa College of Law | The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law | The University of Miami School of Law | The University of Mississippi School of Law | The University of Montana School of Law | The University of New Mexico School of Law | The University of St. Thomas School of Law | The University of Texas School of Law | Thomas Jefferson School of Law | UC Davis School of Law | University of California Hastings College of the Law | UC Irvine School of Law | UCLA School of Law | University of Arkansas School of Law | UC Berkeley School of Law | The University of Chicago Law School | University of Florida Levin College of Law | The University of La Verne College of Law | University of Maine School of Law | University of Michigan Law School | University of Missouri School of Law | The University of Montana School of Law | University of Oklahoma College of Law | University of Oregon School of Law | University of Pennsylvania Law School | University of Pittsburgh School of Law | University of South Carolina School of Law | University of Southern California Gould School of Law | The University of Tennessee College of Law | The University of Toledo College of Law | The University of Tulsa College of Law | University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law | University of Washington School of Law | University of Wisconsin Law School | University of Wyoming College of Law | Wake Forest University School of Law | Washburn University School of Law | Willamette University College of Law | William & Mary | William Mitchell College of Law | Yale Law School

Albany Law School Pro Bono Program

The Albany Law School Pro Bono Program launched by the Student Affairs Office in October 2009, provides law students with a broad range of service learning opportunities through which they provide law-related assistance in a broad range of matters.Last year, nearly 300 students collectively provided 4,000 hours of vital assistance to low-income communities.Their work included providing reentry education materials to over 400 reentering prisoners in the Capital Region; providing tax assistance to over 500 low-income elderly families; and providing referrals to over 1,000 pro se litigants in family and housing cases.  Prior to being placed, all students receive training in cultural competency and ethics in the context of poverty law.  Community partners provide training, supervision and feedback.  Projects include the following:

Bar Leadership Programs:Albany Law School students partner with the New York State Bar Association and provide law-related service to select Section Chairs and Taskforces on a wide range of substantive areas including elder law, environmental law, and civil rights 

Civil Gideon Project
Working with Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, students provide assistance on a broad range of civil matters including: housing intake; preparing for unemployment compensation hearings; and assistance to low-income individuals seeking to file for pro se divorce.

Civil Rights and Court Monitoring Project:
Students conduct research for the New York Civil Liberties Union. Among their projects include working on a class action lawsuit against the State of New York and five individual counties alleging that the current system of public defense effectively denies defendants their right to counsel.  Students monitor Town and Village courts in Washington County as part of the efforts to document the systematic deficiencies in the indigent criminal defense system.

Prisoners Reentry Legal Education Project
Through this project, students provide comprehensive information about legal and social services available to prisoners reentering in the Capital Area.

Rural Legal Services Education Project
With the Rural Law Center Student to provide educational workshops to rural seniors about a variety of legal issues, including Health Care Proxies, living wills and public benefits.   

VITA Program
With the VITA Program, students provide law-related assistance to low-income families throughout the Capital Region.

New projects for this year include a Veteran Housing Rights program through which students will provide educational workshops to homeless veterans throughout Albany; an Iraqi Refugee Resettlement Program providing volunteer assistance to resettling Iraqis in the Capital Region; and an LGBTQ Education Program through which students will provide legal education and outreach to the statewide LGBTQ community.  This month, the Law School will partner with the ABA in making available its trainings available via live web stream during the ABA Pro Bono Awareness Week. During that week, the following trainings will be available to the public:  ‘Ethics and Pro Bono’ lead by Acting President and Dean Mayer and ‘Legal Issues Impacting Homeless Veterans.’ The program is funded through ProDonor, an innovative funding program developed by Albany Law Students.  For more information about the Program contact Susan Feathers, or visit the law program’s website at:

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School enjoys a rich history of inspiring and supporting a public service-centered work ethic. That commitment to the community and understanding of the lawyer’s role in serving the greater good is even more present in the school’s work and mission today. From our dean to our first year students, there is a consistent focus on legal and professional work that benefits the community, rather than benefiting our pocket book.

  • This year, AJMLS  has engaged in a month-long campaign for October in an effort for students, faculty and staff to perform 1,000 hours of pro bono work. The Pro Bono Challenge will culminate during National Pro Bono Week with Home for Good, a forum for Georgia residents as they transition from the state’s jails and prisons back into the community. Specifically, the forum will address overcoming the legal barriers to employment. Additionally, students and faculty are developing a comprehensive self-help guide to help reentering citizens navigate the legal challenges they likely will face to hand out at the forum.
  • As part of the AJMLS Pro Bono Challenge, the school hosted a disaster legal services training session conducted by the State Bar of Georgia. Disaster Legal Services serve low-income families impacted by natural disasters. Newly trained, students are now signing up to volunteer to field calls for the program’s disaster hotline. The Disaster Legal Services training is an example of a growing relationship between AJMLS and the State Bar’s Pro Bono Project.
  • AJMLS  is also proud of a new project with the State Bar in which students will bring the law to life for those with difficulty reading. Students will turn the State Bar’s online legal guides into short audio and video clips to better reach those in need.
  • Dean Richardson Lynn, known for his trademark bowties, has turned his fashion statement into a weekly recognition program by giving Bowtie Awards to students who go above and beyond to demonstrate AJMLS’s commitment of service.
  • AJMLS’ externship program awards course credit to students who perform unpaid work in an approved placement. The placements provide opportunities for students to complete legally-oriented work that in a government, public interest or pro bono capacity.
  • AJMLS students have adopted the school’s mission of service. Its Public Interest Law Society has created the school’s only scholarship for students by students. The scholarship recognizes students with a commitment to the public interest and enables them to perform unpaid public interest work.
  • This year, AJMLS  also instituted a new policy requiring all first year students to complete a minimum of four hours of community service.

To learn more about AJMLS and its history of service, visit

Boston University School of Law

Boston University School of Lawstudents find encouragement and support to make public service a central part of their legal educations and their professional lives.  Starting at orientation, students participate in a Service Day.  Then, at our annual Public Interest Orientation in September, Dean O’Rourke urges all students to participate in public service as an integral part and responsibility of being an attorney.  Each year we have an outstanding public interest attorney speak about his or her career path and the reasons for becoming a public interest attorney. We also have a student panel moderated by a faculty member where students discuss their involvement in public service.  Throughout the year, we host a series of events where we invite public interest and government attorneys to campus to speak on panels, participate in lunch time discussions with students, or meet with students individually to discuss public interest work and their careers.

In its sixth year, BU Law has a successful and vibrant Pro Bono Program. Through this voluntary program students sign a pledge form to perform a minimum of 35 hours of pro bono work over the course of their three years of law school. Students receive a notation on their law school transcripts stating their participation in the pro bono program and are acknowledged in the graduation brochure. In addition, the graduating 3L with the most pro bono hours receives an award at the end of year Pro Bono Event.  Students also participate in spring break pro bono trips organized and funded by the Career Development and Public Service Office.  Last year 61 students participated in service trips in Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Texas, Missouri and Boston.  We anticipate similar service trips in spring 2012.

Students may receive summer grants through a student organization, the Public Interest Project, to work in unpaid government or public interest positions. In 2011, the Public Interest Project awarded grants to 78 students working for organizations throughout the world. 

BU Law students also have the opportunity to engage in public interest work for academic credit.  We have full-year civil and criminal law clinics, as well as one-semester clinics dealing with employment law, health law, the legislative process and immigration detention.  BU Law has various externship programs and a Semester-in-Practice program where students work in courts, federal and state government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

BU Law professors engage in public service in areas including civil rights, criminal defense, and human rights and political asylum. 

BU Law also provides financial support for students who demonstrate a passion for public service. Dean O’Rourke initiated a Dean’s Public Interest Scholars Program through which selected first year law students receive substantial scholarships for each of the three years of law school.  In addition, BU Law Financial Aid office works tirelessly to educate students on alternative loan forgiveness programs, including BU Law’s own loan repayments assistance program.  Last year, BU Law funded 10 Public Service Fellows from the Class of 2011 to work in public interest organizations, government entities and courts.

To learn more about public service at BU, please visit:
Career Development and Public Service Office:
Office of Clinical and Advocacy Programs:
Law School Faculty Public Service:

Brooklyn Law School

Brooklyn Law School’s Office of Public Service Programs provides a variety of services for students interested in public service as a career and those who are exploring that option.  We provide individual counseling, sponsor a series of workshops, speakers and events, coordinate pro bono projects, assist students with fellowships and funding, and apprise students of current opportunities such as job fairs, social justice events, and writing competitions.

Our students engage in pro bono work year-round through various student organizations and projects.  Through these initiatives, students assist underserved communities, gaining experience while providing much needed services.  New projects include the Elder Law Pro Bono Project, Fair Hearings Representation and Assistance Project, Foreclosure Legal Assistance Group, and Homeless Appellant Rights Project.Law Students for Veteran’s Rights and Uncontested Divorce Preparation for Battered Women recently expanded their projects to reach more clients.  Students who show a dedication to public service work are recognized each year at our Pro Bono Awards Ceremony. 

In addition to over 40 courses and seminars offered in public service law, our top-ranked clinical program provides opportunities for clinical internships and externships.  The clinical program includes 24 in-house clinics focused on immigration and asylum, community development, consumer counseling, and criminal defense, among other areas.  Outside of clinical externships, we assist students in securing placements in hundreds of civil practice and criminal practice externships as well as judicial clerkships. 

Funding is available to students engaging in public service work through both competitive fellowships such as the Sparer Public Interest Fellowship program and the BLSPI Fellowship program, as well as non-competitive funding such as the Public Service Grant program.  Sparer Fellows not only receive funding for a 10-week public service internship, but also become involved in the planning of monthly luncheons, and annual forums and symposia.  The BLSPI Fellowship sponsored by Brooklyn Law Students for the Public Interest provides summer funding to students working in public interest organizations where they would not have otherwise received a stipend.  We also offer a Graduates' Fellowship, allowing recent grads to continue working in public service for 10 weeks with a stipend from the Law School. 

This year, the Office of Public Service Programs expanded its programming to offer students more events and informational sessions related to public interest opportunities and careers.  We open each semester with a pro bono fair, designed to help students learn about pro bono opportunities.  Our expanded programming also includes monthly “Square Table” events that provide students with an opportunity to sit down with a public service practitioner in a variety of fields to discuss legal issues and career paths.  We also offer skills building workshops and leadership events. 

Brooklyn Law School provides students with a variety of public service opportunities which integrate legal doctrine and analysis, emphasize strong lawyering skills, and provides a firm grounding in ethical and professional responsibility. Whether they ultimately choose careers in the public or private sector, BLS graduates are well-prepared to make pro bono public service an important and ongoing part of their professional lives.

Campbell University School of Law

Campbell University School of Law  is committed to producing highly competent, deeply compassionate lawyers who view the practice of law as a calling to serve others.  As such, Campbell Law recognizes that serving others is embedded in the professional responsibility of a lawyer.  Particular emphasis is given to practicing the highest ideals of integrity and civility, seeking transformative justice, promoting reconciliation, and helping those who are most in need.   Throughout the year and through various avenues, law students are exposed to several opportunities to learn about and to participate in public service and pro bono opportunities.

In an attempt to instill the service culture early in their law school careers, during orientation, every 1L student volunteers for a community service provider in the Raleigh area, including, but not limited to, Habitat for Humanity, City of Raleigh, Interfaith Food Shuttle, and various residential retirement communities in the local area.     As part of the 1L Professionalism series, volunteerism is encouraged as part of the profession.    To kick-off the 2011-2012 series, former Solicitor General, Christopher G. Browning addressed students on the responsibilities and rewards of community service in the legal profession.   Mr. Browning challenged each student to find “some simple, down to earth task that puts them in touch with the community and those around them in need.” 

As a student’s law school career progresses, they begin to participate in several student organizations, which offer opportunities to engage in public service.   By way of example, students may participate in the Public Interest Law Initiative, whose mission is to educate students about the impact of public interest lawyers; provide financial support to qualified student candidates working in public interest law; coordinate pro bono and community service efforts between the Law School and the community; support student and faculty-run legal clinics; and to elevate the stature of the Law School by channeling student efforts towards betterment of the community.     Further, students may participate in the Pro Bono Council, who help organize National Pro Bono Week, pro bono clinics, mission trips, and community service projects.   The students often compete with one another to solicit the most participation.

With regards to current pro bono and public interest activities, the Military Law Student Association is working with the North Carolina Bar Association’s Military Issues Committee to organize a “When Duty Calls” legal clinic, focusing on military families and disability rights.     The Campbell Law Health Law Society received a grant to complete a service project titled “Increasing Organ Donor Awareness”, where they intend to focus efforts on historically underrepresented communities in organ donation registries, specifically the Latino and African-American communities.     Through various projects, students and student organizations demonstrate their commitment to the needs of the local community.

Chapman University School of Law

Chapman University School of Law, founded in 1995 in Orange, California, is a young law school that continues to develop and strengthen its public interest programs.  The school has consistently demonstrated a commitment to public service, and strives to encourage its students and alumni to actively pursue careers in public interest law and engage in pro bono legal activities.  For more information on the law school, please visit its website at

Chapman has assembled one of the strongest law faculties in the nation, as well as a rigorous academic curriculum.  This curriculum includes multiple ways for students interested in public interest to both learn in the classroom and receive “real-life” experience.   Law students at Chapman are encouraged to extern with members of the judiciary, public agencies and public interest law firms, thereby earning class credit for working with public interest employers.  In addition, the law school hosts a multitude of clinical opportunities, where students work on real cases under the supervision of a licensed attorney.  Students may enroll in public interest clinical programs in tax law, elder law, constitutional jurisprudence, appellate advocacy and domestic violence.

In addition to the classroom, Chapman strives to create an environment that fosters and encourages public interest work.  Student who perform at least fifty (50) pro bono hours in the community are honored with a certificate of merit and are celebrated at the spring graduation ceremony.   The school also works closely with its many student clubs, which include the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF), Outlaw, the Animal Law Society, the Health Law Society and the Criminal Law Society, among others.  PILF plays a particularly important role at the school, and is a vibrant and popular club on campus, hosting speakers, debates and volunteer activities.  During the 2011-2012 academic year, the law school and PILF will host a charity gala to raise money for summer public interest student grants.  The event, the first of its kind at Chapman University School of Law, will honor the multiple members of Chapman’s faculty who are also members of the local judiciary.  PILF awarded eight summer grants for 2011 and hopes to increase both the number of awards and the amount awarded for next summer.

The law school also hosts a wide variety of public interest programs throughout the year designed to encourage interest and stimulate debate on current issues.   This fall, public interest speakers from a variety of agencies, including the Foreign Service, the Orange County District Attorney, and the Consumer Attorneys of California were all invited to address students about careers in public service.  Career programming on public interest careers is held throughout the year, including fellowship panels, criminal law discussions, and an information fair for government employers.  Students are encouraged to attend events on campus, as well as career fairs and other public interest conferences located around the country, including the Equal Justice Works Conference and Lavender Law Conference.  The law school is also a proud co-sponsor of Public Interest Career Day.  

Charleston School of Law

Instilling a commitment to public service within its student body lies at the very heart of the Charleston School of Law's mission statement.  The Charleston School of Law is one of only a few law schools in the nation that requires its students, as a condition of graduation, to perform 30 hours of free legal work in the public interest under the supervision of a licensed attorney. The school also requires its faculty to perform 30 hours of pro bono work every three years.

In May 2011, the Charleston School of Law graduated its fifth class of 164 students. Within that class, almost 80 percent of its graduates performed more than the 30-hour minimum requirement. Nearly a third of the class performed more than 100 pro bono hours each. Within its first five graduating classes, students at the Charleston School of Law have contributed more than 104,500 hours of pro bono service

The law school’s Director of Public Service and Pro Bono, within the Career Services Department, maintains a list of about 125 approved sites that are educational, charitable, governmental or nonprofit in nature. Students also may assist private attorneys with pro bono or court appointed cases. In addition to performing work at a pre-approved site, students may work with the Director of Public Service and Pro Bono to craft their own experience meeting the school’s guidelines as outlined on the Pro Bono Program page.

In addition to its pro bono requirement, the Charleston School of Law encourages students to serve the public through its Externship Program, an elective course that satisfies a student’s skills course requirement for graduation. This program differs from the pro bono requirement in that it is an elective course.  As with pro bono work, students may not be compensated financially for their work. Students may apply up to six credit hours from the Externship Course toward graduation and, therefore, may take the course more than once. As of the summer of 2011, students had contributed 61,286 externship hours at 122 sites. The list of approved sites includes organizations that are educational, nonprofit or governmental in nature. The Externship Course and the pro bono requirement are distinct programs, Students must account for their hours independently.

To develop leadership skills among its student body, the law school offers more than 30 student organizations, many of which include a community service component. This year, the school’s Charles Pinckney Inn of Phi Delta Phi was selected as the International Inn of the Year. A key part of the award criteria was service projects.

It would not be possible to include all the many stories of the contributions individual students and organizations have made in our community, state and nation.  The Post and Courier lauded the Charleston School of Law in an editorial published Aug. 9, 2011: “…the mantra of the Charleston School of Law is that the primary purpose of the legal profession is public service.” That is the mission of the Charleston School of Law.

Charlotte School of Law

One of the mission pillars of the Charlotte School of Law is “serving the underserved.”  The goal of the Charlotte School of Law Pro Bono Program is to engage students in law-related service projects, which provide an opportunity for our students to develop practical skills and gain an awareness of the problems of the poor in accessing legal representation.  Charlotte School of Law students are rolling out more pro bono projects in the 2011-2012 school year than ever before.  Eighteen separate projects, ranging from the investigation of post-conviction claims of innocence from unrepresented inmates in the Actual Innocence Project ® to weekly clinics instructing Charlotte-Mecklenburg County residents to file for Divorce and Custody in the Self-Serve Center Divorce and Custody Clinics, are being led by twenty-nine student leaders who are motivated to fulfill Charlotte Law’s commitment to serve the underserved. 

All Charlotte School of Law students complete a minimum of twenty (20) Pro Bono hours work as part of their academic requirements for graduation.  While every student at Charlotte School of Law participates in some form of pro bono work, that is, legal services without charge for the public good, many students have elected to go above and beyond to develop pro bono clinics to reach a larger number of unrepresented litigants.  As one student leader stated, “There are people out there who just need information, and we can provide it to them, easily.  It’s our responsibility as members of this community to continue this work.”

Eight student “Pro Bono Ambassadors” help encourage and motivate the student body to get involved in pro bono work and organize “Pro Bono Week” at the law school—as part of the American Bar Association’s National Pro Bono Celebration Week in late October showcasing the great efforts that lawyers who offer pro bono services make across the nation.   Charlotte School of Law students are scheduled to return to the Mississippi Center for Justice in Biloxi, MS during their Spring Break in March 2012 to perform Katrina legal relief work as well as free legal assistance related to the BP Oil Spill Disaster. 

During these difficult economic times, the need for legal services has only increased as the ranks of the pro se continue to grow. Charlotte School of Law students are making a difference.

Columbia Law School

With world-renowned faculty, hands-on lawyering opportunities, and a multidisciplinary approach to public interest legal education, Columbia Law School  prepares graduates to become future leaders - whether they serve society through full-time careers in public interest law, government service, or pro bono work at law firms.

Columbia Law School also has a longstanding tradition of leadership in human rights and public interest law and government service. Our commitment to service, a core value, is evident in all aspects of the Law School. Columbia was among the first to require pro bono service for graduation, and to devote substantial resources to developing pro bono opportunities. This requirement instills in our entire student body a sense of responsibility toward the world outside of the classroom and an excitement about the range of opportunities that lies ahead.

Columbia quickly connects students with faculty who can direct them toward the research opportunities and hands-on learning experiences that best match their interests and passions. And our Guaranteed Summer Funding Program supports students as they explore domestic and international public interest career paths. At Columbia Law School, students can engage in clinics, externships, supervised research, internships, and pro bono work throughout the academic year.

Our duty to our students does not stop when they graduate. To ensure that a career in public interest law is a choice that all students can embrace, we significantly enhanced Columbia Law School's generous Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). Our Social Justice Initiatives program offers students and graduates career counseling and professional connections throughout the world, supported by a well-connected, international alumni network.

Concord Law School of Kaplan University

Concord Law School of Kaplan University, launched in 1998, is the first realistic, committed, and comprehensive effort to harness the power of technology and the Internet to benefit legal education. As a wholly online, robust, and interactive, part-time program, Concord meets the needs of a working, adult student population. Our mission is to provide a high quality legal education at a reasonable cost for persons with professional and/or personal schedules or geographic constraints that make attendance at a “brick and mortar” law school difficult or impossible. Concord’s affordability and accessibility, as well as its method of delivering a legal education, are distinguishing characteristics of the program.

Since opening its virtual doors, Concord has attracted a diverse student population. Our students’ motivations for going to law school range from the desire to improve skills and knowledge for current employment, to starting a new career as a lawyer, to the personal satisfaction of obtaining a life-long goal. Many arrive at Concord with extensive work and life experience often leading graduates to combine their legal education and previous background to make valuable contributions to their community:

Larry David, JD ’04, had several successful business careers before law school. Since graduating he has won awards for his pro bono work, including the Hon. Benjamin Aranda III Outstanding Public Service Award from the L.A. County Bar Association’s Barristers Domestic Violence Project.  Larry continues to spend one day a month at each of the two bar association offices and takes on numerous pro-bono cases involving domestic violence cases, conservatorships, unlawful detainer, and debt collection defense cases. As he puts it, “I spent my business life trying to make money, and now I am grateful for the opportunity to help others.”

Shiva Gill, JD 07,trained as an architect and lived overseas for many years. She was a Concord student for several years while living in Saudi Arabia.  When she returned to the States and became a member of the State Bar of California, she began volunteering at a pro-bono center for immigrant legal assistance in Houston. “The pro-bono work gives me an avenue to practice kindness to strangers,” she explains. Shiva has started her own immigration practice and continues to take pro-bono cases for those clients who need immigration assistance but are unable to pay.

Susan Mulligan, JD 09, was raising four adopted children as well as four of her own during her law school days. Now Susan works part-time in a private firm and volunteers for Greater Bakersfield (CA) Legal Assistance. For Susan’s many hours of volunteerism, she has been awarded the State Bar of California’s award for each of the past three years. At the 2011 ceremony, it was noted that she had worked more pro bono hours than any other attorney in Kern County. Her specialty is doing guardianships, but she also helps families with other needs like special education and dependency issues.

Concord recognizes students’ work with the Kaplan Legal Services Award at graduation and celebrates our alumni commitments to their communities.

Cornell Law School

Cornell Law School is an extremely collegial and supportive environment for every student, including those students pursuing public interest careers. Dean Stewart Schwab has prioritized public service as an important aspect of the Law School's mission. In a recent alumni magazine article about Cornell Law School's Exemplary Public Service Awards, Dean Schwab said “the graduates of Cornell Law School have a long tradition of using their legal skills to support the public good, whether in government jobs, public-interest positions, or private practice. It is fitting that we celebrate these public-service contributions, often made with considerable personal and financial sacrifice. Presenting annual Exemplary Public Service awards gives these Cornellians the recognition they deserve, and demonstrates in a very meaningful way that the Law School has a strong and ongoing commitment to public Interest law."

In 2004 Dean Schwab created the position of Assistant Dean for Public Service, selecting Karen Comstock to serve in this role. Dedicated to providing the support public service-minded students and alumni need to realize their professional goals, Assistant Dean Comstock and Elizabeth Peck, Director of Public Service, provide career counseling services and organize weekly public interest career path programs, often featuring alumni speakers. Cornell Law School devotes a wealth of resources to the academic curriculum, including innovative and practice-oriented courses, clinics, and extemship opportunities.

Financial support for public-interest minded students is very strong at Cornell Law School. Every student is guaranteed funding for summer public interest work. The Law School's newly-endowed Frank H.T. Rhodes Public Interest Law Fellowship program provides support for new Connell Law graduates working on behalf of clients deprived of their civil or human rights. Additionally, the Public Interest Low Income Protection Plan ("loan forgiveness program”) provides grants for graduates who are handling student loan payments while earning public sector salaries. As one alumnus who went into death penalty defense work said “I started law school wanting to pursue a career in public interest. Staying on track would have been exceedingly difficult without the encouragement and support of individuals like Dean Comstock, Dean Lukingbeal, and Professors John Blume and Sheri Johnson. In addition, I would simply not be able to make ends meet without the financial assistance I received through the Low Income Protection Plan."

The public interest student community is very strong and cohesive, and at the same time very diverse. Students respect each other and learn from each other’s varying perspectives. For instance, student groups often ideologically opposed to each other, like the National Lawyers Guild and the Federalist Society, will co-sponsor programs on issues such as school vouchers, same sex marriage or immigration reform. Over spring break a large group of students travel to the Gulf Coast, with substantial financial support from the law school, to provide pro bono services to residents affected by recent natural disasters. Public interest and private firm-oriented students work side-by-side, cleaning out flood-soaked buildings and providing pro bono assistance in Juvenile Court. Another integral aspect of Connell's culture is the Cornell Public Interest Law Union. With advice and guidance from the Office of Public Service, PILU hosts frequent gatherings of students committed to public service careers and provides a space for students to have on-going discussions about career paths, job search strategies, financial considerations, and more. These gatherings allow students to share important information, and contribute to the strong public interest community at the Law School.

DePaul University College of Law

Students who plan to use their DePaul University College of Law degree to help others will find a welcoming community at the Center for Public Interest Law. From a law student's first day of class until long after our alumni take their first public interest job, CPIL's mission is to support students and lawyers who work in the public interest. We do that by offering students opportunities to learn, to serve, and to connect.   For more information, visit

In fulfillment of DePaul University’s mission of service, and in preparation for attorneys’ unique professional responsibilities, the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) encourages and facilitates law student volunteerism with community organizations that work to address the needs of underserved individuals and groups. PBCSI works in close collaboration with the CPIL and University Ministry and is managed by an attorney coordinator and three student leaders. All law students are encouraged to complete and report at least 50 hours of service during their time at DePaul. For more information, visit

Duke Law School

At Duke Law School we celebrate service as an inherent element of the lawyering profession. The Law School’s Office of Public Interest and Pro Bono ( supports an ethic of service throughout the school by coordinating: the Duke Law Pro Bono Project; the annual Public Interest Retreat and Careers in Service Symposium; summer fellowship programs in support of public interest work; and the externship program, which allows students to gain hands-on experience working for academic credit with a government or public interest organization. The Office of Public Interest and Pro Bono also works in coordination with the Career and Professional Development Center to provide informational programming and career advising to students interested in exploring public interest or public service legal careers.

Since 1991, the Pro Bono Project has been a key component of the education and leadership development of Duke Law students. While participation in the Pro Bono Project is voluntary, all students are encouraged to participate. With about 20 different active Student Pro Bono Groups, and almost-weekly opportunities to participate in new pro bono events, there are many opportunities available for pro bono service and nearly 100% of Duke Law students participate in pro bono at some point in their law school careers. Three new pro bono student groups were formed this year: the Haitian Legal Advocacy Project; the Legal Aid NC “Ambassador” Intake Program; and the Social Enterprise Law Project, which engages in community development work.

The annual Duke Law School Public Interest Retreat – in its 14th year – is a hugely popular fall semester event that brings together like-minded students for a day-long, off-campus program that includes goal-setting, career planning, and social activities. In the spring semester, the Careers in Service Symposium features panels and career planning workshops with alumni engaged in public service and public interest law practice. Throughout the year, the Office of PIPB and the Career Center together present programs on: finding and funding summer public interest jobs; public service loan repayment; and information about post-graduate fellowship sources, Honors programs, and other opportunities for public service and public interest career-seeking.

Duke Law School provides significant support to students in the form of Summer Public Interest Fellowships, which provide funding to students who obtain unpaid public interest internships over the summer. In addition to a number of Endowed Summer Public Interest Fellowships, which are available to 1L and 2L students, the Duke Law School Dean’s Summer Service Grant guarantees funding to any 2L student who secures un-paid or low-paid summer public interest employment, including work with a government agency or office, or a summer judicial clerkship.

Finally, the course offerings available at Duke Law School – including clinics, integrated externships, and seminars on various topics of public interest law – also support student pursuits to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to affect positive change in the world through the service of lawyering.

For more information, please visit the Duke Law School website:

The Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University

The Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University motto - Scientia, Ars, Officium - Knowledge, Skill, Duty - reflects the goals Drexel has for its law student graduates. The third element of our school’s mission, Officium, means “the duty to the public good owed by a public official." It is an essential element of the law school because it recognizes the lawyer’s obligation to serve the public good by providing uncompensated legal service to people and organizations that cannot afford to retain lawyers.

Pro Bono Publico” service, “For the Public Good,” is at the heart of the legal profession. Providing pro bono service to individuals or groups traditionally underserved by the private bar is the goal of our mandatory 50-hour Pro Bono Service Requirement. Students make an immediate impact in the world by helping those most in need. In addition, the program strives to educate students about their ethical responsibility to provide assistance and improve access to legal services throughout their legal careers. Finally, the program highlights public service opportunities that students may want to pursue as a career path.

Our Pro Bono Service Requirement reflects a commitment to the Philadelphia community and the unmet legal needs of its men, women and children. Under close supervision, students develop their legal skills and gain practical, hands-on, experience in a real work setting. This is a vital part of our curriculum and demonstrates the faculty and administration’s commitment to the development of professionalism in its students.

The Earle Mack School of Law promotes and coordinates a variety of pro bono opportunities through a wide range of organizations. The pro bono opportunities offered to law students provide a hands-on learning experience outside of the classroom. The Pro Bono Service Program continues to develop new opportunities from which students can choose to fulfill the requirement.  Please read more about our 20+ Standing Pro Bono Projects in which our students participate.

We recognize the lawyer’s obligation to serve the public good and encourage and support students to contribute to and make a difference in their communities through public service work. We instill in our students a sense of duty to work in the public interest throughout their legal careers with the hope that many will seek full-time public sector employment. 

In recognition of and consistent with this commitment, we have established the Public Service Fellowship Program, the Drexel Loan Repayment Assistance Program, and Public Interest Summer Experience Grants. The purpose of these programs is to assist and support our students and graduates who pursue careers in the public interest.

Elon University School of Law

Building on a foundation of innovative programs that put into practice the university’s hallmarks of engaged and experiential learning, a commitment to leadership and service, Elon University School of Law has quickly distinguished itself since opening its doors in 2006.  Whether a student's ultimate goal is to work in the public sector, or integrate pro bono work as a component of a future legal career, Elon Law features a wide range of opportunities which enable students to acquire valuable lawyering skills and learn the importance of public service. 

Introduced at Orientation, where first year students participate in “Elon Reaches Out Day of Service” and the theme of public service is reemphasized regularly.  Students gain experience, as well as learn the importance of public service through the school’s legal clinics, as well as leadership program.  For example, through the Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic, students serve low income refugees and asylum seekers and through the second year Public Law and Leadership course, student serve nonprofit clients in resolving real legal issues.  

In addition to the curricular opportunities, our students consistently find ways to get involved and serve the community.  This year will see many important additions to the pro bono efforts at Elon Law.  The Pro bono Board, a student-run leadership board comprised of a dynamic group of Elon Law students dedicated to public service, will help design and implement a wide variety of service programs and serve as the center-point of the pro bono efforts at Elon Law. 

One of the first initiatives this year has been to create events in conjunction with the ABA’s National Pro bono Week.  There will be different events both in and out of the law school to promote the importance of public service.  On Monday, October 24th, the Public Interest Law Society, the Pro Bono Board and the Office of Career Services, are sponsoring a panel called, “Public Justice from Private Attorneys”.  The panel will be comprised of Triad private attorneys who devote time to help provide Access to Justice in their communities.  In addition to a encouraging students to sign up and volunteer for different events throughout held throughout the week, the Board members will take the opportunity to also help educate classmates on the importance and impact of pro bono work not just in the local community, but throughout the country.

Throughout the rest of the academic year, the Pro bono board will be partnering with the North Carolina Bar Association’s Military Issues Committee, as well as organizations such as Legal Aid of North Carolina and the  to help address continuing legal concerns in the community. For more information on Elon Law’s celebration of National Pro Bono Week, please go to

Emory University School of Law

Emory University School of Law is committed to encouraging and supporting a spirit of public service among its students.  This commitment begins when students first arrive on campus and continues throughout their time at Emory.
At the beginning their first year, students have the opportunity to participate in numerous service activities during orientation week. Recent service projects include cleaning up the Chattahoochee River, working in community gardens, and serving food in an Atlanta soup kitchen.  First-year students also have the opportunity to participate in Emory Law’s Public Interest Dinner Series. The Dinner Series offers students the chance to enjoy a casual dinner with attorneys working for public interest organizations in the Atlanta area.  Previous dinner speakers have included attorneys from the ACLU, the Southern Center for Human Rights, and the Georgia Innocence Project.

The Emory Law curriculum includes numerous public interest courses so that students have the ability to select an academic path that will prepare them to work in the public interest. Students participating in one of Emory Law’s three in-house clinics are able to get real experience working in public interest fields ranging from child advocacy to international human rights to environmental protection. Students also can earn academic credit by working in as many as sixty different public interest field placements in the Atlanta Area.

Emory Law celebrates National Pro Bono Week, using it as an opportunity to expose students to pro bono opportunities. To encourage students to engage in pro bono work, Emory Law recognizes students who use their legal skills to serve underrepresented individuals and groups.  Students who have completed at least 25 hours of pro bono work in an academic year receive a certificate and are invited to a celebratory dinner. Students who have completed at least 75 hours of pro bono work over three years are recognized with a pro bono medal at graduation.

The student-run public interest group at Emory Law, Emory Public interest Committee [EPIC], is one of the most active and influential student groups on campus. EPIC runs numerous activities devoted to public interest work including coordinating volunteer events, hosting networking opportunities for students interested in public interest work, funding students working in unpaid public interest summer internships, and organizing Spring Break service trips.   EPIC also hosts an annual public interest conference that brings attention to important and timely public interest issues. Recent conference topics include economic immigration in Georgia, poverty in Atlanta neighborhoods, and child law.

Programs recently developed at Emory will further enhance students’ commitment to public interest legal work.  For the broader law school community, Emory has created the Center for Professional Development to help students see the variety of ways in which they can explore careers and build their professional skills, and one area of focus in the Center is public interest.  In connection with this effort, we will emphasize pro bono service as not merely an “extracurricular” activity, but as an essential part of every lawyer’s professional identity, and an opportunity to develop professionally while helping someone in need.

Florida International University College of Law

Located in one of the nation’s most cosmopolitan urban centers, Florida International University College of Law offers a curriculum that prepares its students to both compete and thrive as future lawyers in an increasingly global and multicultural world and who also maintain a high regard for professionalism and awareness of their social responsibility.

FIU Law acknowledges that lawyers occupy a unique place within our society.   A well-trained, ethical lawyer through his/her expertise and leadership can make profound and lasting individual, community-wide and global contributions. 

We recognize that our duty as a professional school is to provide students with the technical skills associated with the practice of law while also offering them the opportunity to continue developing the requisite professional judgment, integrity and maturity that should accompany those skills.  Further, the law school has a concomitant obligation to the region, state, nation and international community to assist the larger legal profession and the society it serves by graduating students who willingly embrace and serve as models of accountability, ethics awareness, and civic responsibility.  


FIU Law is committed to train not just more lawyers but a different and better kind of lawyer.  Students are required to complete at least 30 hours of qualifying pro bono legal service.  By instilling in students a deep commitment to social justice, FIU Law ensures that South Florida’s legal professionals are aware of their community’s needs and are dedicated to finding solutions to those needs upon graduation. 

FIU Law Clinics

Real Cases.  Real Practice.  Real Life.

For some, social, economic and language barriers render justice out of reach. FIU Law Clinics – the largest in-house program in the State of Florida - encourages students to directly represent and serve the legal needs of the community’s vulnerable populations. 

FIU LAW provides legal education through hands-on experience that enables students to apply course work to real cases and to examine the institutional, ethical and personal problems inherent in the lives of today's practicing lawyers. 

Legal Externship

The opportunity to obtain practical experience before graduation is a critical educational component. The goal of the FIU LAW Legal Externship Program is to provide students with the opportunity to gain practical legal experience through placements with governmental and corporate agencies.

Center for Professionalism & Ethics

Established in 2010, the FIU LAW Center for Professionalism and Ethics mission and objective is to enhance public confidence and faith in the legal profession by educating and training law students to become ethical members of the bar who practice with the highest level of integrity and professionalism.  

In its inaugural year, through numerous activities including curriculum development and delivery; partnership and coalition building; and community-based outreach projects, the Center has successfully established a stable foundation upon which a contemporary and high quality program will continue to expand in the coming years.

For additional information on any of these programs please contact Michelle D. Mason, Sr. Associate Dean: or visit us at

Fordham University School of Law

Fordham University School of Law instills a public service ethic in every student....So much so that we received the 2008 American Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico Award for our work.  Unlike some law schools, all Fordham Law's public service work is voluntary.  At present we support 24 public service student groups with counseling, programming, funding and more; all these groups are student conceived & run - public service at Fordham Law is really a student-centered student-driven program.  Besides our Career Planning Center, we offer a stand-alone Public Interest Resource Center with workstations for all our student groups, and three full-time professional staff members/counselors, each with decades of experience, and one support staff member, to support and advise every aspect of a student's development.  At our annual gala Public Interest Awards Dinner, we acknowledge both alumni and students public service contributions - 296/505 (about 59%) members of the JD Class of 2011 devoted 50 or more hours to pro bono and/or community service work; of these 112 gave 5-249 hours; 66 gave 250-499 hours; 59 gave 500-999 hours, and 58 gave 1000+ hours.  During summers and following law school our students and alumni work across the country, and around the world in public service, often supported with our summer stipends or post-grad fellowships to further their career development.  Our Stein Scholars Program offers even greater support for selected dedicated public interest minded students. 

Some of the newest public service opportunities we are offering for the 2011-12 academic year include: a Fordham Law PIRC organized a tri-state student leaders meeting that brought together dozens of student leaders from area law schools to discuss their programs, group activities and issues; Fordham Law is helping students explore video technology to better deliver trainings, information, and services to clients; in addition to our service trips to Nicaragua, Jamaica, Dominican Republic (Universal Justice), New Orleans (Disaster Relief Network), Haiti (Disaster Relief Network), rural Florida (Habitat for Humanity), Fordham Law is helping a student group explore a service trip to a Native American reservation; and our Prisoners Rights Advocates received the first ever American Bar Associations Good Works Award of $10,000 to assist their cause. 

For more information please see our Public Interest Resource Center homepage: and our Public Interest student groups:
Email us anytime with your questions:  

George Washington University Law School

Pro bono at George Washington University Law School: An Innovative Approach.  A major problem for all law school pro bono programs is connecting students with potential clients in a way that is efficient for everyone – when the provider and the person in need of services live in different worlds and there is no common location where they regularly meet.  We at GW have a new program that seems to solve that problem and reduce a serious barrier to the delivery of needed services.

The GW Cancer Institute provides for more than the medical needs of cancer patients who are or have been in treatment.  The Institute determined that many patients have problems of a legal nature, and it approached our program for assistance.  We identified advance directives, simple wills, employment, health insurance, and social security as areas where we believed that students, working with lawyers, could help.

The Institute employs “navigators” who help patients with the myriad of medical and non-medical aspects of dealing with their cancer. We developed an information sheet for them to use with their patients to advise them on what types of legal problems our program covered, making clear that our students are not lawyers.  The patient then submits a confidential request to our program, and we identify a student to meet with the patient for an intake session, where the patient is receiving clinical care.  When the request is for an advance directive, the student offers help in understanding the terms used and in framing alternatives.  Patients complete the officially promulgated form, making their choices, in conjunction with family and in consultation with their principal physician.  If patients are interested in having a will, we have them fill out a short questionnaire, from which we can make an initial determination as to whether the matter is appropriate for our program or whether we suggest that the patient obtain a lawyer, for which we might make a referral.  We are planning to develop similar questionnaires for other areas so that before any meeting takes places between a student and a patient, we have some idea as to whether the matter is one on which we can provide help.

If the problem requires work after the intake interview, the student will discuss the case with an attorney who works in that subject area.  It may be something that the attorney and the student can handle relatively easily, but if not the program will try to help locate an attorney to handle the matter either pro bono or at a reduced fee.  For an attorney who is considering taking on such a matter, a preliminary screening will have been done, so that the lawyer can generally decide before meeting the patient whether the lawyer is likely to take the case.

The Law School’s role with the Cancer Institute is very much a work in progress.  We are learning how best to make the necessary connections between patients and students and how to integrate the attorneys into the process without unduly burdening them, while assuring quality advice.  We hope that we have found a way to provide meaningful pro bono opportunities for students, useful service for patients, and a means to harness the willingness of attorneys to do pro bono work by bringing law students into the process.

Golden Gate University School of Law

Golden Gate University School of Law is consistently ranked one of the best public interest law schools in the country. Last year, the National Jurist found that GGU Law was one of the six best in California.  GGU Law ensures that the values that underpin public service permeate campus life, and students have every opportunity to become engaged in the public sector.

GGU Law’s curriculum of more than 80 courses with a public service component extends to every area of public interest law. Additionally, curricular certifications are available in Public Interest Law, Environmental Law, Family Law, and many other public service sectors. Students can also become involved with any of nearly thirty available student-run public interest organizations on campus, or be matched with established pro bono programs by the Assistant Director for Public Interest Programs.

GGU Law also supports a formidable externship program, ranked third in the nation in a national study by Professor James Backman of Brigham Young University. Most GGU Law students participate in this program and obtain hands-on public interest law-related experience in clinics including those in Capital Post-Conviction Defense, Criminal Litigation, Consumer Rights, Environmental Law, Family Law, Homeless Advocacy, Women’s Employment Rights and Youth Law.

By offering such a wide array of public service opportunities for students – both in and outside the classroom – GGU Law allows students to find the division of public service that appeals most to them. This diversity promotes dialogue over issues facing the public interest sector and creates a community deeply committed to public service. Further, students are able to bring their full passion for an issue or cause directly to any one of numerous student organizations that supports their goals, thereby using their voices in a way that empowers them.

Each year, a comparatively large percentage of graduates directly enter the public and nonprofit sectors, and GGU Law makes it a priority to extend support to these graduates throughout their careers. The Law Career Services office maintains a resource center with current information about public interest careers, including an online database of employment listings, fellowship opportunities, and pro bono projects, all of which remains available to alumni. Additionally, the Assistant Director for Public Interest Programs sends out a weekly e-news and hosts a social media page highlighting public interest events, job opportunities, internships and articles. In addition to career guidance, the University offers loan repayment assistance to public interest graduates who qualify.

With these programs in place for students and alumni, GGU Law is able to ensure that those involved in its public interest community feel adequately supported in the pursuit of their goals. Students are encouraged by the University’s demonstrated commitment to its public interest graduates and, as a result, feel more comfortable and confident following in that path. Additionally, the consistent involvement of alumni contributes to the ever-advancing atmosphere at Golden Gate University School of Law – an atmosphere that remains committed to supporting a public service ethic in every student.

Hofstra Law School

Hofstra Law School first encouraged a public service commitment in its students over thirty years ago when it became a pioneer in integrating clinical education into a law school.   Hofstra was one of the first law schools in the country to open a clinic, and by the late 1970’s had one of the largest clinical programs in the country.  At first, Hofstra faced resistance and skepticism among practicing attorneys who were concerned that students would take cases away from them.  Even after the clinic won the right to appear in court through a Student Practice Order in 1972, some judges would not allow students to appear before them.  Over the years, however, the clinic has become a well-known, at times notorious, presence in legal circles in Nassau and Queens.  Our core mission has stayed the same – to provide every Hofstra law student with the opportunity to develop into a skilled, passionate and ethical lawyer while serving the legal needs of local disadvantaged individuals and communities. 

To accomplish this goal, we treat our clinical program as a laboratory.  We push our students to think deeply about the spectrum of new and creative approaches to our clients’ problems.  We challenge ourselves not just to provide the experiences of an actual law practice to our students, but to teach them how to learn from those experiences, and how to translate the knowledge they have gained in their non-clinical law school courses into client representation.  We make an impact – locally, nationally and internationally – in areas that affect the representation of under-served populations, and we encourage our students to make that type of impact one of their goals as they enter the legal profession.

We provide legal representation in seven practice areas: 

  • Child Advocacy Clinic 
  • Community and Economic Development Clinic 
  • Criminal Justice Clinic
  • Law Reform Advocacy Clinic
  • Mediation Clinic 
  • Political Asylum Clinic 
  • Securities Arbitration Clinic

Hofstra Law School also encourages its students to engage in a variety of public service initiatives.  From student-run public service organizations like Courtroom Advocates Project, the Unemployment Action Center, Legal Emergency Aid Project and Law Brigades, to community based projects including the Nassau County Youth Court and mock trial enrichment programs at local schools, Hofstra students work to secure basic rights for underserved and underrepresented individuals and families.  Our students have also provided disaster relief and legal services to individuals and families in places like New Orleans and Panama.  To encourage and reward student service, the law school coordinates a Public Service Certificate Program, which recognizes graduates who engaged in significant pro bono and community service work during their time at Hofstra.  Through fellowships from its Public Justice Foundation, which funds students working in summer public service internships, to its Child and Family Advocacy and LGBT Rights fellowship programs, to our vast clinical programs, Hofstra continues to encourage its students to think of new and creative ways to use their degrees to help close the justice gap.

Howard University School of Law

The halls of Howard University School of Law are filled with “Champions of Change” past and present.  From Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and the Honorable Damon Keith of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, to our recent graduates working at the Southern Poverty Law Center and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Howard Law alumni have a proud legacy of championing social justice causes. This ethic of public service runs through several facets of the law school, from the clinical program, to seminar courses, to the Pro Bono Honors Pledge.  But, it is perhaps best represented through the many volunteer service activities undertaken by HUSL students without any want of recognition.

A central tenant of service runs throughout Howard’s clinical program.  Clinical students at HUSL not only represent individuals who, in many cases, have no where left to turn, but are also engaged in pro bono work outside their direct representation.  Examples include the Fair Housing Clinic’s community outreach to bring about awareness of foreclosure modification options and the Criminal Justice Clinic’s Know Your Rights workshops at area schools and juvenile detention centers.

Howard’s Law School also promotes pro bono service and public interest law through its doctrinal curriculum in courses such as Social Justice Lawyering and Civil Rights Planning.  In these courses, students learn what it means to be an advocate for change and begin to develop practical skills which can one day be used to develop remedies for violations of the rights of marginalized groups.  
This principal of service is embraced by HUSL students who model volunteerism in their student organizations.  Most HUSL student organizations have a community service chair and encourage members to engage in volunteer work.  Examples range from mentoring programs to food drives to clean up efforts at local parks and public schools.  A hallmark of student pro bono service at HUSL is the Alternative Spring Break Program (ASB).  Beginning in 2006, Howard law students began organizing a trip to New Orleans to lend their hands in the clean-up effort surrounding the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.  In the 6 years since the storm, the ASB program has continued to send groups of more than 50 law student volunteers to New Orleans each spring to partner with legal services organizations, such as the New Orleans Public Defender and Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, who are leaders in the fight for social justice. 

In 2009, the Howard Pro Bono Honors Pledge Program was created to honor the tremendous volunteer efforts of Howard law students in furtherance of the School’s proud legacy.  HUSL students are encouraged to pledge a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono work to be completed during their 3 years of law school.  We are creating a new partnership this year with a local youth court diversion program and continue to look for ways to give back to the local community.  With this structure in place, we are confident that Howard’s future graduates will carry our social justice legacy forward and continue to be “Champions of Change”.

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Indiana University Maurer School of Law’s Access to Justice Program is Celebrating Pro Bono Week with a week-long informational campaign designed to foster student interest in pro bono service. The week will begin with a free CLE for local pro bono attorneys and ethics training for law student volunteers. The Maurer School of Law will also be hosting "Lawyers in the Library" at the Bloomington Public Library, a walk-in clinic where the community can get answers to their legal questions. Maurer School of Law students will conduct intake and attorneys will give free legal advice.

The Celebrate Pro Bono Week activities are meant to complement the IU Maurer School of Law’s on-going commitment to public service. In the past year, the Law School’s Access to Justice Program has worked to expand participation in pro bono service by all law students, not just those interested in full-time public service after graduation. In addition to supporting existing student pro bono organizations, the Access to Justice Program partnered with Baker & Daniels LLP to create three pro bono projects: the Medical-Legal Partnership, the Appellate Project, and the LGBT Advocacy Project.

Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Loyola University Chicago School of Law is committed to preparing its students to fulfill their professional obligation to serve the public. This commitment is consistent with the Jesuit mission of being of service to others.  To fulfill this commitment, the law school offers a wide range of activities, courses and programs that allow students to explore the special role that lawyers have to serve the public good. In 2011, Loyola first offered its Public Interest Law Certificate.


  • The Business Law Clinic provides low cost legal services to entrepreneurs and pro bono for nonprofit organizations in the Chicago area. 
  • The Child Law Center maintains a Clinic, publishes the Children’s Legal Rights Journal, and hosts weekly Coffee Talks on topical issues.  It also houses the Education Institute.
  • The Community Law Center provides legal assistance to individuals who cannot afford private legal representation. 
  • The Federal Tax Clinic, the first of its kind in Chicago is qualified as a Low Income Tax Clinic by the Internal Revenue Service.
  • The Health Justice Clinic improves health outcomes for low income residents through legal advocacy.


Child Law Legislation                                                                        
Education Law Practicum                                                                             
Interdisciplinary Seminar on Domestic Violence
Life After Innocence
Street Law

OTHER  LAW EXPERIENCES –externships and work study
The School of Law assists law students with for-credit placements in externships in criminal, government, public service agencies, child law, or health law environments.  Students can also work in public interest off campus placements through the Federal Work Study program.

Examples of volunteer activities, on and off campus:

Cabrini Green Legal Aid Expungement Help Desk
Chicago Legal Aid to Incarcerated Mothers                                                  
Days of Service – 1L Day of Service, MLK Day of Service, Spring Day of Service
Harlan Pipeline and Mentoring Program
Hunger Week Activities
Illinois Legal Aid Online                                                                      
Ladder Up – Tax Assistance Program                                               
Law Related Education in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center
Loyola Law Academy, Saturday program for high school students

PUBLIC INTEREST LAW SOCIETY (PILS) and other student organizations
PILS fundraises to supports summer stipends in public interest placements.  Numerous other student groups also regularly sponsor public interest lectures and projects.

AMAKER RETREAT – Beginning in 2011, Loyola has been the sponsor of the annual Midwest law school social justice retreat for students, with the support of the Society of American Law Teachers.

The law school offers scholarships to students who have enter with public interest work experience, as well as public interest scholarships for continuing students. 

In 2010, Loyola met the $1 million mark for granting Loan Repayment funds to alumni.


Public Interest Convocation                                                      
Public Interest Law Society Auction                                       
Public Interest Law Reporter Symposium
Public Interest Recognition Open House
Race and Law Symposium

For more information, please email Mary Bird at

Loyola Law School – Los Angeles

Loyola Law School – Los Angeles is committed to helping the community and providing pro bono and public services opportunities to all of our students. We have many programs, both faculty and student directed.

Since 1997, every student who has graduated from Loyola has completed a minimum of 40 hours of pro bono services to the community with over 100 different public interest organizations.  Loyola Law School was the first ABA accredited school in the State of California to have a mandatory pro bono service requirement. A large majority of students do significantly more pro bono work than required.  Every year Loyola students give a minimum of 16,000 hours of assistance to persons in need.  In 2010 alone, students completed over 30,000 hours of pro bono work! 

Loyola Law School also supports public interest work financially. Loyola is one of very few schools in the country that provides its own fellowships for its graduates to pursue public interest careers.  The Loyola Post Graduate Fellowship Program awards three fellowships each year on a competitive basis for graduating students.  Each summer, Loyola Law School, through its Summer Public Interest Employment Program, funds at least seventy law students through work-study, sixty in traditional public interest and ten in government.  Loyola Law School’s Summer Grant Program is one of the largest in the country. Loyola’s Public Interest Loan Assistance Program provides loan repayment assistance to graduates working in public interest law. Loyola is concerned that its graduates who plan a career in public interest law not be deterred by the massive burden of debt undertaken to complete law school.  Finally, each year six or more incoming students are selected as Public Interest Scholars under the Public Interest Scholar’s Program.  They receive a scholarship, participate in public interest activities, and are mentored by both faculty and alumni.

Loyola's curriculum includes many classes and clinics that focus on protecting the rights of all people. The clinics include the Disability Rights Legal Center, the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy, the Center for Conflict Resolution, the Cancer Legal Resource Center, and the Restorative Justice Center. Students also provide services to the community through many practicum and externship classes, including Civil Rights Litigation, Immigrant Rights, Veterans’ Advocacy, Non-Profit Advocacy, and many more too numerous to list.

Public service is core to our mission as a law school and everyone (faculty, students and staff alike) is committed to ensuring that equal access to justice becomes a reality.

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Public service is central to the mission of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.  Consistent with St. Ignatius’ call for each of us to be “a person for others,” all law students are strongly encouraged to give their time and skills to the community through a variety of programs.   Throughout the year, Loyola law students can be found among the community - in courts, classrooms, homeless shelters, and anywhere else help is desperately needed  -  bringing Ignatius’ vision to life.  

Loyola’s Law Clinic and Pro Bono programs are noted for offering services that timely meet the needs of the community.  After Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, the Law Clinic set up the Katrina Clinic which offered victims of the storm direct services and legal information for years after the event.  Loyola law students were instrumental in bringing impact litigation which protected the rights of storm evacuees and ensured that government entities delivered relief aid fairly.  In response to an epidemic of unpaid workers after the storm, the Clinic also established a Wage Claim clinic in which students aggressively seek pay owed to workers from unscrupulous contractors.  This program, which is conducted by bi-lingual students, has been successful in bringing attention to and helping to redress the problems of undocumented workers in our country.

In addition to these special programs, Loyola students who enroll in the clinical or pro bono programs can be found working on diverse issues in every area of law. Some students work with homeless, providing advice and assistance in homeless shelters and on the street.  Others work on pressing policy issues such as preserving our wetlands from coastal erosion or the reform of healthcare law.   Still others devote their time to the rights of children and the protection of families.  The array of public service opportunities at Loyola is practically limitless.

On October 25, Loyola will dedicate a new state-of-the-art building for its Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice.  The three-story building is one of the few free-standing law clinic facilities in the U.S. and offers the best in office accommodation and technology.  The new building is proof of Loyola’s commitment to public service and it ensures that Loyola’s programs in this area will continue to grow.

New York University School of Law

New York University School of Law has a long-standing goal for all of its graduates to pursue public service throughout their careers.  NYU provides the highest standard of training for students pursuing public service by offering myriad clinics, courses, and symposia to train students in the complex skill sets required for public service lawyering.

NYU’s Public Interest Law Center (PILC) supplements the academic curriculum with a rich educational program of lectures and career workshops, as well as individualized career counseling.  Each February, the Public Interest Legal Career Fair, the nation's largest public interest job fair, brings 200 employers and more than 2,000 students from 21 law schools to NYU for interviews and information table sessions.  NYU’s Summer Funding Program provides grants to all first- and second-year students who work in public service summer internships, while its Loan Repayment Assistance Program gives financial support to graduates pursuing public service careers. The pioneering Root-Tilden-Kern Scholarship Program provides full tuition each year to 20 students who dedicate their careers to public service. The result: the most comprehensive public service infrastructure of any law school, along with an extensive network of alumni who run many of the most important non-profit organizations and government agencies in the country.

In the fall of 2010, the Law School launched the Pro Bono Service Award program, to recognize those students who perform 50 or more hours of law-related service. Cognizant of the huge unmet need for legal services in our society, NYU Law designed the program to encourage and recognize both students who intend to devote their careers to public service and students who intend to do pro bono work in the private sector.

There are over a dozen student groups at NYU that assist low-income clients in a wide variety of legal matters.  Some of these groups, such as the Unemployment Action Center, founded at NYU in 1981, now have chapters at other schools.  Another example is the Suspension Representation Project (SRP), which was started at NYU in 2007 and has chapters in New York City and in other cities around the country.  SRP trains law students to represent public school students in superintendent’s suspension hearings in order to safeguard their right to education.  In 2010, SRP was awarded a New York State Bar Association President's Pro Bono Service Award and an Equal Justice Works Exemplary Public Service Award for a Student Project.  For the complete list of NYU student organizations and more details on each organization, see

NYU Law has an expansive definition of public interest law. Thus, its graduates work in every sector of public service, from prosecution to public defense, from small non-profits to large federal government agencies.  PILC recently launched the Guarini Government Summer Series in Washington, D.C., a lecture series designed to foster student interest in careers with the federal government and connect them with NYU alumni.  

Learn more about NYU Law’s public service programs at

Northeastern University School of Law

Northeastern University School of Law is one of the nation’s top public interest law schools. Our experiential approach is steeped in social justice values, providing students with both hands-on skills obtained in real legal settings and an awareness of their responsibility to serve society regardless of their chosen field.

In the first year of law school, students participate in our unique Legal Skills in Social Context program, which teaches critical research and writing skills while also challenging students to think about social justice issues. In this course, student teams work on research projects for community and nonprofit clients.

In the upper-level years, students participate in our Cooperative Legal Education Program (co-op), spending four quarters working full time for employers throughout the world in all types of legal settings, including legal services, criminal defense offices, advocacy organizations, government and human rights groups. More than 90 percent of recent graduating classes completed at least one public interest co-op.

In our clinics, students gain significant practical experience in various settings, including hospitals, prisons, the courts and welfare offices. More than 40 percent of our students participate in a clinic.

And, all students fulfill our Public Interest Requirement through a co-op, clinic, 30 hours of pro bono work or an independent study.

In recent years, graduates have entered public interest careers at a rate three times the national average for all law graduates. Our alumni are leading advocates in human and civil rights; labor and employment law; GLBT, race and gender issues; consumer protection, housing and poverty law. Those who enter private practice are often involved in significant pro bono work.

Northeastern also provides financial support to public interest-minded individuals. We offer full-tuition scholarships to several outstanding social justice-oriented applicants each year. We provide more than $700,000 annually to support public interest co-ops, as well as significant loan repayment assistance to graduates in public service. Three-quarters of our faculty engage in public interest scholarship or pro bono work and offer students opportunities to work with them on projects.

We have an exciting array of public service programs and initiatives in 2011-2012. With a federal $500,000 grant, we will launch a new legal services clinic for low-income and other underserved entrepreneurs. Our Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project has also just launched a clinic. Two distinguished Daynard Public Interest Visiting Fellows will visit campus — guest lecturing, conducting community presentations and meeting with students. Our new Program on Health Policy and Law will provide a forum for interdisciplinary exploration and research on the ways in which law and policy affect health. Additional programming includes panels on parole reform; the legal, ethical and moral issues surrounding biotechnology and reproductive and women’s rights; climate change; and creating transformation through impact litigation. Our third annual “Faculty Meet-Up” will showcase our faculty’s public interest activities and invite student participation. 

Through melding theory and practice with a focus on social justice concerns, Northeastern law students graduate with a sophisticated understanding of what it means to practice law in the public interest.

Salmon P. Chase College of Law

The Salmon P. Chase College of Law, founded in 1893, is located on the main campus of Northern Kentucky University, a metropolitan university in a thriving legal and business community just seven miles south of Cincinnati, Ohio. NKU Chase College of Law offers a full-time day division, a part-time day division (new for fall 2012), and a part-time evening division.  The College of Law teaches not only law and doctrine, but equips students with the skills to succeed and the experience to build a resume.  Through the school's four cutting-edge Centers for Excellence - the Center for Excellence in Advocacy, the Transactional Law Practice Center, the Local Government Law Center, and the Law and Informatics Institute - students learn the skills necessary to be practice-ready upon graduation.

NKU Chase supports a public service ethic in every student through our innovative Pro Bono Service Program, which assists students in completing 50 hours of pro bono service as a graduation requirement. . Pro bono work is defined as law-related work performed in legal service organizations, government agencies, private law firms (pro bono cases), nonprofit organizations, and legislative offices.  Students select from a variety of organizations designated as approved placement sites, or they may design their own pro bono project.  Pro bono projects based at the law school include a unique Street Law Program and a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.  

In addition, Chase students complete a community service project as part of the 1L introductory week.   All incoming first-year students spent a Saturday morning this past August volunteering at several community social service agencies by performing a variety of tasks. 

National Pro Bono Week was celebrated at NKU Chase last year with a pro bono fair and reception attended by students, representatives of our pro bono placement organizations, and other members of the region’s legal community.  This year the Chase Pro Bono Service Program will host a day-long Open House on October 27th to celebrate National Pro Bono Week. 

Northwestern Law

Northwestern Law has a long history of fostering a commitment to public service in its students and graduates. In 2002, we adopted a Public Service Strategy, designed to build an ethic of service and giving among all students, regardless of their career path. The strategy offers an array of public service opportunities in three main categories: curricular, co-curricular, and career assistance.  The strategy has continued to evolve and expand over time.

The curricular offerings include a concentration and journal in Law and Social Policy, work in the Bluhm Legal Clinic, externships with judges and attorneys in government and non-profit settings, and a wide variety of courses dealing with different areas of public interest law. The concentration offers an opportunity to focus on policy analysis or more client-focused public interest law. The Bluhm Clinic offers students the opportunity to represent clients in a wide variety of cases, including criminal, immigration, wrongful conviction, international human rights, and juvenile law. 

Our Practicum externship courses allow students to work in judicial, non-profit, criminal and civil government settings while also studying legal issues that face attorneys in these separate areas. Students also have an opportunity to spend an entire semester working with a non-profit or government agency or an international tribunal. 

Co-curricular public service opportunities begin at orientation, when incoming students dedicate a day to a variety of community service projects. We also have set a goal that each law student performs a minimum of 50 hours of public service before graduation. Our Public Service Coordinator helps students, faculty, and staff find meaningful public service experiences in a wide range of areas. Students who fulfill the public service hourly goal are honored at an awards luncheon and receive special recognition at graduation.

Three student organizations devote their activities entirely to public interest: the Public Interest Law Group, the Student Funded Public Interest Fellowships, and the Student Effort to Rejuvenate Volunteering. Every student organization is expected to plan or participate in at least one service activity during the academic year. Nearly every week members of the law school community are able to attend one or more programs and speakers on various topics of public interest law, organized by students, faculty, student groups, or the law school. 

The third area of the strategy is led by the Center for Career Strategy and Advancement, which offers a wide range of assistance with public interest job searches. The center’s Public Interest Advisor assists students and graduates in their search for public interest positions and administers a number of programs that provide summer funding for public interest jobs. Northwestern Law also has an innovative and generous Loan Repayment Assistance Program for graduates with educational debt who work in the non-profit or government sectors.  The LRAP was recently revised to dovetail with the provisions in the College Cost Reduction and Access Act.  For many graduates, the LRAP grants equals or exceeds the graduate's required annual law school loan payments. 

Penn State School of Law

Visit Penn State School of Law or meet our alumni and you will learn quickly that we derive our strength from one another. Whether it’s the “Best Student Section” in the country or the PSU Dance Marathon raising enormous sums of money to benefit pediatric cancer research, we function best as a team.

Students at Penn State Law inspire one another every day to be the change we want to see in the legal profession. If you were here two Fridays ago you would have seen students playing music in the commons, guitar case open, collecting for the our Public Interest Law Fund so that other students can receive a stipend for summer employment that would otherwise be unpaid. If you visit on a dark winter evening you will see our students huddled over tax returns, helping low-income and elderly people in our community file their tax returns and get the credits they deserve. If you stop into the courthouse on any given day in Centre County or Cumberland County, you would see Penn State Law clinic students representing people who otherwise, without us, would be unable to afford representation. If you visit in March you would see the Mustache March competition. (It’s bizarre, but this photo gives you a good idea.) 

At Penn State Law we are fortunate in that we can team up with other Penn State colleagues in other schools to further the public interest. For example, our Children’s Advocacy Clinic partners law students with medical students from the Penn State College of Medicine to represent dependent children using a united team approach. Our International Sustainable Development Projects Clinic works with the Penn State College of Engineering on projects to help with the legal side of improving lives the developing world. Likewise, students inspire one another each day to do something great for the cause of public interest law. They hold auctions to raise money for public interest fellowships. They donate hours of research to community attorneys taking pro bono cases, and they use their Saturdays to draft “Wills for Heroes” for local police and fire fighters and provide walk-in advice to help the homeless and other under-represented people.

All of our good work is the result of a team, united in the belief that we can be the change we want to see in the United States. We will be the lawyers who extend a hand to the less fortunate. We will be generous with our time and talent. Working together we can go from individual good intentions to great achievements.  As a certain football coach likes to say, “Believe deep down in your heart that you’re destined to do great things.”

Kate Lawrence is the director of Public Interest Programming at Penn State Law and supervising attorney in the Children’s Advocacy Clinic. In 2011 she was named to the Equal Justice Works Advisory Committee. 

Roger Williams University School of Law

Roger Williams University School of Law is committed to the principle that every lawyer should use his or her legal skills to serve the community and address unmet legal need. An important part of the law school’s mission is to introduce students to public service during law school in order to set the stage for a lifetime of valuable pro bono work. The vehicle for this mission is the law school’s Feinstein Institute for Legal Service (, which provides an array of opportunities for students to engage in public service. The law school is one of approximately 20 law schools with a mandatory public service graduation requirement. Students contribute at least 50 hours of pro bono legal assistance without receiving academic credit at legal services, government, non-profit and law firm pro bono placements, as well as through student-run pro bono projects such as Street Law, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program and Alternative Spring Break.

The law school’s signature pro bono project is the Pro Bono Collaborative (PBC) (, an innovative program in which law students engage in pro bono work alongside seasoned private sector law firm attorneys. The PBC’s pro bono service model is unique in that it involves a three-way partnership – a law firm, the law school, and a community organization – to identify unmet legal needs and create pro bono projects that address those needs. The projects include legal rights education, individual representation, legislative advocacy, and non-profit formation. The PBC’s expungement clinic was recently featured in the Providence Journal. See The Feinstein Institute also administers the judicial and public interest externship programs, offers generous summer stipends and public interest scholarships, and engages in distinctive law school-community partnerships, including a medical-legal partnership at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence in partnership with Brown Medical School and the Rhode Island Center for Law and Public Policy. 

RWU School of Law has a vibrant and committed community of public interest-minded students. In 2011-2012, the Student Bar Association is undertaking an ambitious project to engage all 25 student organizations in development of one or more pro bono projects in which members can fulfill their public service requirement. In January 2012, the SBA will hold a culminating public service month, in which these law student organizations will engage in both law-related pro bono projects and community service projects. The Feinstein Institute is working with students to develop new pro bono projects for 2012 including a pro se assistance project in the Rhode Island Family Court, a civil legal assistance project for inmates at the Adult Correctional Facility, and a court advocacy project for victims of domestic violence. The law school’s Association for Public Interest Law is once again planning several pro bono projects in the local community as well as across the U.S. as part of the Alternative Spring Break program.

Seattle University School of Law

At Seattle University School of Law, we take to heart our mission to educate outstanding lawyers who are leaders for a just and humane world. The values of equal justice for all permeate every aspect of the law school.

In furtherance of our mission, this fall the Access to Justice Institute launched a school-wide Pro Bono Pledge Program, designed to encourage students to build their legal and leadership skills in service to the community. Although Seattle University students already engage in a great deal of meaningful work outside of the classroom, the voluntary Pledge Program takes an important next step  by inviting students to pledge to commit to a minimum number of hours of pro bono and volunteer service prior to graduation, and then by formally acknowledging and celebrating those who meet their goals. It offers resources to those who want to volunteer in a meaningful way and also allows those who already commit their time in the community to track those contributions and educate us about the impact they are making.

In addition to the Pledge Program, the Access to Justice Institute connects the law school with opportunities to engage with underserved and marginalized communities through collaborative student, school, and community partnerships like the Seattle University Youth Initiative and a new Moderate Means Program. We also support a number of student organizations that engage in pro bono activities and have several full-time staff that advise students and help develop additional public interest and social justice opportunities, partnerships and events.

The School also continues to build upon its commitment to educating justice-minded leaders. This spring the school will offer a signature elective course to 1Ls that focuses on this mission, and the Access to Justice Institute helps students bridge academics and action through curriculum initiatives like the Legal Writing Collaborative, which incorporates real-world social justice problems into the first year legal curriculum. Our Center for Professional Development provides substantial support to public interest-minded students, and we also offer two full-tuition scholarships to students committed to working in the public interest, a public interest loan repayment assistance program, and the only post-graduate social justice fellowship in the state of Washington.

Our commitment to justice enriches our community as much as it helps those we serve. We are proud to be a part of a national conversation promoting this important work!

Seton Hall University School of Law

A legal education can bring justice to the lives of the poor and disenfranchised. Seton Hall University School of Law offers outstanding opportunities to students considering careers in public interest and government, as well as to students seeking to make public service a continuing part of their professional lives.

Recognizing the significant role that lawyers have in the quest for social justice, the law school is deeply committed to providing top quality training and support for students to develop their skills, knowledge and experience in public service work. 

From day one, Seton Hall Law students collaborate with professors to effect social change. Pro bono work is encouraged, beginning first semester. And while issues of public interest and social justice are woven throughout our curriculum, they are most powerfully addressed by students in the clinical law offerings of our Center for Social Justice (CSJ). CSJ students have fought on behalf of victims of predatory lending, gained asylum for victims of religious persecution, defended free-speech rights, pursued class-action suits on behalf of individuals mistreated by the Department of Homeland Security, reported on immigrant-worker wage theft and protected vulnerable families against domestic violence.

In addition, the Center for Policy & Research provides students with an uncommon opportunity to gain experience in forensic analysis of evidence in criminal cases and investigation through research into national policies and practices. The Center’s series of reports on the detainee camp in Guantanamo Bay have been quoted in the media worldwide, and are frequently cited in Congressional testimony.

Also, The Last Resort Exoneration Project teams practitioners and academics with students to offer free investigative and legal services to the convicted innocent of New Jersey. The project reviews cases to identify and then advocate for individuals who were convicted, and currently serve prison time, for serious crimes they did not commit.

A Seton Hall Law student finds real-world opportunities for gaining experience, advancing social justice and making a difference in the lives of others. Exposed to a myriad of real-world opportunities, students explore public policy, criminal justice, international human rights, civil rights, and government— hands-on.

Seton Hall Law School awards a number of distinguished public interest scholarships each year to incoming students who have demonstrated academic excellence and a commitment to public interest work. In addition, the Center for Social Justice designates two students each spring from the first-year class as CSJ Scholars, based on academic performance and public interest commitment.

Throughout the year, the Office of Career Services and student organizations provide continuing programming and other opportunities for learning about current public interest issues and hearing from involved practitioners. The Office of Career Services has an Associate Director focused on counseling in public interest, including non-profit organizations and government service, who is available to students and alumni interested in pursuing careers in these areas.  Students who graduate and embark on careers in public service may be eligible for Seton Hall Law School's Public Interest Loan Repayment Program, the Samuel J. Heyman Fellowship Program, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, and the federal government's loan assistance program. 

Southern University Law Center

The mission of the Southern University Law Center is to provide sound legal education and training to a diverse student body, while maintaining our historic role of providing legal educational opportunities to under-represented racial, ethnic, and economic groups.  It is our desire that our students will return to their communities, equipped with a legal education, and ready to pursue goals that include public service.  In furtherance of achieving these goals, our students and alumni are presented with a variety of pro bono and public service programs and opportunities. A more detailed look at these programs is presented below.

  • Baton Rouge Bar Association 

In its monthly publication, the Baton Rouge Bar Association regularly recognizes Southern University Law Center students and alumni for their volunteer and pro bono services to the community. Students have been noted for their recurring service and assistance for the bar association’s Teen Court program and the Thirst for Justice and Ask A Lawyer programs.

  • Chancellor’s Public Service Initiative Stipend

The Chancellor’s Public Service Initiative Stipend offers summer stipends to students who have committed themselves to working in public interest and other unpaid, service oriented summer law internships. The program made its first awards in the spring of 2007. That year, 11 students were granted the stipend. In 2008, 10 students received stipends; in 2009 we were able to increase the number of stipends to 15; to twenty-seven in 2010; and 67 in 2011.

  • Clinical Education Program

In addition to its primary purpose of providing a unique and meaningful opportunity for law students to gain practical experience representing indigent clients in district and juvenile courts, the seven clinics of the Clinical Education Program at SULC serve as vital sources for numerous pro bono opportunities for students.

  • Equal Justice Works / Americorps

Since 2005, SULC has teamed with Equal Justice Works/Americorps attorney fellows to provide the students with constant access to various public interest internships and volunteer programs. The fellows coordinate with the local public interest legal providers and serve as the central representative to funnel student volunteers. Fellows also organize campus-based events to raise awareness of pro bono work. Events focus on the importance of pro bono work and considering a public interest career path.

  • Loan Reduction Assistance Program 

Since 2007, SULC has sponsored a loan reduction assistance program (LRAP) to encourage and enable recent law school graduates to enter and remain in public service. To be eligible for consideration for LRAP, applicants must work full-time in law-related public service positions in Louisiana. The goal is to help remove the barriers to public interest practice faced by recent graduates who have incurred significant debt to finance their law school course work.

  • LSBA Law Student Pro Bono Award

Every year, the LSBA selects one student from each of the four Louisiana law schools to be honored for the Law Student Pro Bono Award for their work and dedication to public service.

Southwestern Law School

Very few experiences match the gratification that comes from making a difference in the lives of people in need, and Southwestern Law School students have many avenues through which they can have that kind of connection to the community. Since its founding, Southwestern has held public interest as a central component of its curriculum and philosophy and encourages public service through a rich selection of programs, courses, activities and individual pursuits.

Public interest involvement is highly emphasized at Southwestern Law School.  Through its Public Service Policy, all Southwestern students are encouraged to perform at least 25 hours of pro bono legal services (other than for pay or academic credit) each year. Those who serve at least 75 hours by graduation are formally recognized at commencement ceremonies and a notation ‘Public Service Distinction’ is placed on their law school transcript. Additionally, Public Interest Law Service Awards are presented annually to graduating students in recognition of demonstrated extraordinary dedication to public interest law while at Southwestern.

In support of this policy, Southwestern created a Public Service Program to develop volunteer opportunities for students. Students are provided with information and opportunities to participate in both on campus and off campus public service programs and events.  Students are encouraged to share their legal knowledge while gaining experience, developing their own legal skills, and building relationships with the community.  Southwestern supports and promotes many campus law related activities such as Teen Court, General Relief Advocacy Project, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and our Hoover Elementary School mock trial program.  In addition, we work closely with many legal aid organizations throughout Los Angeles County and collaborate for programs such as our annual spring break Justice Bus Trip and our Small Claims Clinic.

We also house three clinics on campus. The Children's Rights Clinic, Immigration Law Clinic, and Street Law Clinic which enable the law school to offer valuable services to the community while giving law students hands-on experience working on real cases advocating for children and families.
Southwestern has an active student run Public Interest Law Committee that coordinates a week of activities while fundraising to provide summer grants and funding for our students who are committed to working for non-profit legal organizations. 

For more information please visit contact Professor Laura Cohen, Director, Street Law Clinic & Community Outreach at

Stanford Law School

At Stanford Law School public service is more than a program pursued by a handful of students: it is a central part of our mission and our culture. We believe that the privilege to practice law includes a responsibility to the larger society. Every lawyer has the capacity to make a positive difference in the world, and we expect every student and every faculty member to step up to that role.  And we’re committed to providing everyone in our community with the resources and support to do so.

SLS brings this commitment to life by offering students everything they need to launch rewarding careers in public service: an intensive academic education, hands-on training, mentorship by faculty members, scholarships, and the most generous loan forgiveness program in the country for those who plan full-time careers as public interest lawyers. We offer future lawyers of every professional ambition diverse intellectual resources and hands-on opportunities in public service, through pro bono work, internships, superb networking and mentoring opportunities, and a wide array of legal clinics. Whether they ultimately work in the community, in the private sector, in the policy arena, or on the international stage, SLS students and graduates are making a difference.

The John and Terry Levin Center for Public Service and Public Interest Law is the heart of our public interest program, and it provides something for every student—those dedicated to full-time public interest work and those who will make such work only one part of their careers. From the moment students arrive at SLS, Levin Center staff work to instill a public service ethic.  Experienced staff offer advice, lead workshops, teach, and design diverse opportunities to explore the breadth of public service career options.

We are thrilled to share that this year 90 percent of the first-year class committed to doing pro bono work while at SLS.  There are more than 18 projects available, outlined in our 2011-2012 Pro Bono Handbook.  Two new projects include Project ReMade, which helps women exiting prison to successfully launch their own small businesses, and the Naturalization Project, where students assist clients with the naturalization process and preparation for their citizenship interviews.  In addition we offer annual Alternative Winter/Spring Breaks, where students have done such things as travel to Miami during spring break to assist stranded Haitians with obtaining Temporary Protected Status and to New Orleans to work at the Office of the Public Defender. 

Dean Larry Kramer has observed: “The ability to practice law is a powerful force in our society, and it carries with it a responsibility to serve the greater community. This is true regardless of ideology or political views, and whether one works in the private or nonprofit sectors. There are countless ways to fulfill this role.” At SLS, we help students find the ways that work for them.

Suffolk University Law School

For more than 100 years, Suffolk University Law School  has produced leaders dedicated to public service. In 1997, the law school established the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service, the public service hub of the law school.  Among other missions, the Center manages the law school’s Pro Bono Program.

The purpose of the Pro Bono Program is to teach all students – not just those interested in public service careers – of their moral and professional obligation to ensure access to justice for all.  One exciting project that the Pro Bono Program manages is the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project.  The vision of the Project, named in honor of the late Justices Thurgood Marshall and William J. Brennan, Jr., is to empower high school students to be responsible citizens and lifelong participants in the democratic process by teaching them about their constitutional rights.  The Project provides Suffolk Law students with a rare opportunity to study constitutional law and simultaneously teach it to Boston and Cambridge high school students in urban minority population areas.  This Project is only offered at a handful of other law schools across the country.  Professors Michael Avery and Kim McLaurin teach the course at Suffolk Law.

The law school has also adopted a formal policy encouraging annual pro bono service by faculty and attorney administrators.  In support of this policy, the law school has extended its professional liability coverage to faculty and attorney administrators engaged in pro bono work, making Suffolk Law one of the few law schools in the nation to do so.  Also, many courses at Suffolk Law are devoted to public service curriculum, with many more focusing on one or more public service interest area. The law school has also been often recognized for its nationally ranked clinical and internship programs which provide hundreds of Suffolk Law students with experiential learning that is public interest based.

This year, in concert with the American Bar Association’s National Pro Bono Week Celebration as well as Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s Pro Bono Month Proclamation, the Rappaport Center is holding three events to recognize and urge support of pro bono work.  The first event – Exploring Legal Services Careers – is a panel conversation co-sponsored by the Boston Bar Association and the Victim Rights Law Center.  The panelists, a set of attorneys committed to legal services, will discuss the many different ways in which public interest students can pursue careers in legal aid.  The second event is a Pro Bono Challenge, a daylong event encouraging students to sign up for the Suffolk Law Pro Bono Program and get involved in public interest work.  The third and final event is a Pro Bono Fair for Attorneys and Law Students, co-sponsored by the Boston Bar Association.  At the Fair, students and attorneys will have the chance to connect to non-profit organizations to learn about the vast array of pro bono opportunities available in the Boston community.

Syracuse University College of Law

Syracuse University College of Law is proud of our students’ commitment to public service, through their pro bono and community service and community engagement work and choice of careers post-graduation. The College of Law promotes public service and community engagement through a variety of programs and curriculum initiatives, run by the administration, students, faculty, and co-coordinated initiatives. Students are also exposed to public service through institutional programs such as the Cold Case Justice Initiative ( The access to justice gap is lessened through the College of Law’s clinical legal education courses. The students can enroll in clinics covering the areas of law of bankruptcy, children’s rights and family law, community development law, criminal defense, disability rights, elder law, low income taxpayer law, and securities arbitration and consumer law. Student coordinated activities are organized by the College of Law Pro Bono Advisory Board, Student Public Interest Network, the Student Bar Association and many interest specific student organizations. Students who have completed at least thirty hours of pro bono and community service are honored at commencement and wear an honor cord designating their hours of service.

All members of the College of Law community - students, staff and faculty - are welcome to become involved with programming and events. The Pro Bono Program ( specifically partners with numerous community organizations to make service and outreach opportunities available throughout the year. The Pro Bono Program is coordinated by the Pro Bono Fellow, the Pro Bono Advisory Board, and the Office of Student Life. Together, they help students collaborate with legal services providers and pro bono attorneys to enhance the delivery of legal services to those most in need. Students are able to assist with client intake, screening, law-related education, community presentations, and more. It is through this program the College of Law hopes to raise awareness of and connect students, faculty, and staff to pro-bono programs to enhance the Syracuse community and foster a long-term commitment of its students to pro-bono service.

For the 2011-12 academic year, students have been busy already, getting involved in the distinguished Cold Case Justice Initiative and representing clients under the supervision of faculty in the clinical courses. Our students have already begun providing service hours for the local Onondaga County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyer Program’s Pro Se Divorce Clinic and Landlord-Tenant Court Program. Law students have organized a 9/11 memorial on campus, coordinated a blood drive, participated in a Walk for the Cure, and harvested vegetables for a local food pantry that serves the greater community during orientation. Students are volunteering at the Samaritan Center, giving referrals to local social service programs, and organizing an auction to fundraise for fellowships for students working in public interest in the summer. The Syracuse University College of Law has much to be excited about.

Many students also choose to pursue public service as a career option, with many entering the fields of public interest law, government work, and a variety of fields. Students may also pursue a diverse and distinguished joint degree program with other colleges within Syracuse University while completing their law degrees.

Temple University Beasley School of Law

At Temple University Beasley School of Law, we believe that increasing access to justice is among the highest duties of every lawyer – not just those whose jobs are in public interest and public service.  It’s a commitment to community that’s rooted in the vision of our University’s Founder, Russell H. Conwell, and that remains vibrant and pressing for us today. 

From our Annual Day of Service to our Rubin Presser Public Interest Law Honor Society, Temple Law faculty, staff and students pursue the ideal of lawyer as public servant with passion and with pride.  Since entering law school in 2007, 131 members of our most recent graduating class have provided more than 15,000 hours of pro bono service.  Their contributions have been as varied as the needs presented by our community; they have served through individual placements with government agencies or public interest organizations, judicial clerkships, pro bono projects organized through the Office of Public Interest Programs, student initiated pro bono projects, and LEAP, Temple Law’s pipeline program.  Among other things, they have prepared tax returns for low income wage earners, assisted former inmates with transition to community life, helped victims of domestic violence file for protection from abuse orders, and served as election protection volunteers.  In fact, Temple Law’s commitment to public interest and public service is so strong that we regularly place graduates in public interest jobs at a rate well above national and regional averages.

We are particularly excited about two new opportunities for Temple Law students to make a difference in our community.  Beginning this year, Temple Law has adopted the St. Francis Inn Soup Kitchen in nearby Kensington, partnering with Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP).  Students perform intake and assist with resolving cases once a month.  Students are supervised by HAP attorneys and attorneys from Dechert, LLP, who also staff the soup kitchen.  Also new this year is Students for Students, in which students receive training from the Education Law Center and, under the supervision of Professor Sara Jacobson, represent Philadelphia School District students at disciplinary hearings.  This project received funding from the American Bar Association’s 2011 Good Works competition, placing second nationally.

Here at Temple, we believe that law comes to life through the people who practice it every day. From our students, who come from all walks of life and all corners of the globe, to our graduates, who leave prepared to practice anywhere, Temple lawyers are trained to shape the law in service to the lives they touch. They are more than leaders: they are innovators whose thoughtfulness, vision, and courage are quickly put to work in our communities, our nation, and our world. 

The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law

Supporting a public service ethic in every student falls squarely within the mission of The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.  Among its tenets is a core commitment to the ideals of the dignity of each person, justice rooted in the common good and care for the vulnerable.  These values are manifested in practice at the Law School in a variety of ways: 

CUA Law’s Pro Bono Program offers students, faculty and alumni opportunities to engage in meaningful projects throughout the year.  Two primary goals of the Program are to expand the capacity of attorneys to provide high-quality legal services to underrepresented individuals and groups and to instill in CUA Law students a lifelong professional commitment to pro bono work.  Projects range from creating community education materials to performing intake at a local legal services provider to helping an association incorporate as a nonprofit organization.  

The Office of Law & Social Justice Initiatives is a center within CUA Law dedicated to supporting our community of students, staff and faculty in their efforts to make a lifetime commitment to service in the common good.  L&SJI develops programs and practices to facilitate and promote community service and pro bono activities.  This year L&SJI instituted a brown bag lunch series as a vehicle for learning more about public services careers and related topics.  The Office also assists students who wish to pursue public interest post-graduate opportunities.  A special L&SJI project is the CUA-Haiti Initiatives, which offers the opportunity to contribute to building the rule of law in Haiti, including by assisting the Catholic Law School of Jeremie develop a model criminal justice clinic to represent indigent criminal defendants in local tribunals.

Clinics and externships, offering students a host of opportunities to address pressing community needs, include: Columbus Community Legal Services, operating three clinics and a consumer protection project staffed primarily by CUA Law students that assist clients with a range of civil law matters; the Innocence Project Clinic, dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people and to reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice; D.C. Law Students in Court, a year-long clinical program that provides critical legal assistance and representation to low-income individuals and families from the DC metro area; and the Criminal Prosecution Clinic, in which students appear on behalf of the State of Maryland in misdemeanor criminal matters.

Student groups, such as the Legal Services Society and Students for Public Interest Law, are another way in which students engage in public service work, whether through community service or pro bono projects.  All student groups sponsor at least one community service project each year.  The Law School supports their efforts in a variety of ways, including co-sponsoring panels and collaborating on the development of pro bono projects. 

In celebration of its 125th anniversary this year, the University has invited the CUA community to participate in the Cardinal Service Commitment, with the goal of having students, alumni, faculty and staff perform 125,000 hours of service by Founders Day 2012. 

The City University of New York School of Law

The City University of New York School of Law is ranked #1 in the nation for public interest law by PreLaw magazine. Our graduates work across the social justice spectrum advocating and lawyering nationally and abroad for the greater good. In addition to frontline social justice work, many CUNY Law alums join the academy as professors and leading thinkers contributing scholarly work on cutting edge progressive issues.

To prepare our students for an outstanding career in social justice, we have instituted a unique approach that integrates a lawyering curriculum with traditional doctrinal study. Nationally recognized by the academy and higher education experts, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s report, "Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law," praises CUNY Law for being one of the few law schools in the country to prepare students for practice through instruction in theory, skills, and ethics.

CUNY Law’s small lawyering seminars in the first and second years provide students with the grounding they need to begin supervised live client practice in their third years. Our experiential approach engages students more deeply in their learning and prepares them for an outstanding clinical experience.  

For over a decade, the clinical programs at CUNY School of Law have been nationally recognized as the very best in legal education. CUNY School of Law faculty members have been honored for their leadership and contributions to the field of clinical legal education. In addition to publishing influential ground-breaking work, they are regular planners and presenters at national conferences.    Our clinics and concentrations, the culmination of the lawyering curriculum, are a critical step in the transition from student to practitioner. While most law schools offer only limited access to clinical experience, each CUNY third-year student is required to participate in a clinic or concentration for one or two semesters (12 to 16 credits).

CUNY Law’s seven clinics provide direct service, in-house, supervised live-client representation. The three concentrations are highly supervised external placements. Our clinic offerings are: Community & Economic Development, Criminal Defense, Economic Justice Project, Elder Law Clinic, Immigrant and Refugee Rights Clinic, International Women's Human Rights Clinic, and Mediation Clinic. Our Concentrations are in employment law and health care rights. 

Throughout their CUNY Law experience, students benefit from the scholarly acumen of the faculty. Since its founding, the CUNY School of Law faculty have produced cutting-edge research in areas as diverse as capital punishment, violence against women, LGBT issues, community economic development, law and aging, ecology, and international justice.  

The University of Akron School of Law

In order to provide positive experiences to our law students that will promote their future involvement as practitioners and provide independent educational value and direct knowledge concerning the plight of persons of limited means and their access to justice, The University of Akron School of Law has adopted a Community and Pro Bono Publico Service Requirement policy. 

In order to promote a public service ethic in every student, the University of Akron School of Law students are required to complete a minimum of 30 community service hours subject to the following additional conditions:

  • A minimum of 15 of the 30 community service hours must involve service to persons of limited means or to organizations that are dedicated primarily to serving such persons.
  • A minimum of 10 of the 30 community service hours must be in pro bono publico service (as defined above). 
  • A minimum of 5 of the 10 pro bono publico service hours must involve service to persons of limited means or to organizations that are dedicated primarily to serving such persons. 

Students who complete 300 community and pro bono publico service hours will receive a notation on their transcripts and in the graduation bulletin acknowledging their “exceptional commitment to community and pro bono publico service” and will receive a community and pro bono publico service cord to wear at graduation.

The Student Community and Pro Bono Publico Service Coordinator will select one full-time and one part-time graduating student to be recognized at graduation as the Community and Pro Bono Publico Service Students of the Year.  In selecting the students to receive this honor the Student Community and Pro Bono Publico Service Coordinator shall consider the number of service hours, the quality of work, the positive impact the student has had on the community and other relevant factors.

One public service opportunity the University of Akron is proud to sponsor each year is Akron Law Cares, a volunteer event in which students, faculty, staff and alumni are invited to visit persons of limited means who live in public housing to assist with cleaning, sewing and mending clothes, weeding, arts and crafts, games with children, and visiting. Each year, this event draws over 100 volunteers and the volunteers visit four different sites. 

For more information about the University of Akron’s commitment to public service, please visit

The University of Denver

The University of Denver Sturm College of Law has a long tradition of promoting public service and legal practice among its students. We strive to remain in the forefront of public service and to advance the law school as “The Public Interest Law Center of the Rockies.” 

In 2004, the faculty of Denver Law established a Public Service Requirement (PSR) as one of the prerequisites that students must fulfill in order to graduate with a Juris Doctorate.  To ensure that the College of Law remains in the forefront of public service, every Juris Doctor student is required to perform a minimum of 50 hours of supervised, uncompensated, law-related public service work during his or her law school career as a prerequisite to graduation.  Denver Law has on its faculty a Director of Public Interest who, along with Public Interest Coordinator, is responsible for overseeing student completion of the PSR and for working with public interest organizations, including non-profits and government agencies, to develop pro bono opportunities for students.

The PSR can be satisfied in a variety of ways, including enrollment in one of our six Student Law Office clinics, completion of public interest externships or public interest practicums through our Legal Externship Program, or through a variety of other courses with an experiential public interest component, such as the International Criminal Law Practicum, Child Advocacy Practicum, or the Wills Lab. The Director of Public Interest has developed opportunities as diverse as coaching high school mock trial teams in low-income schools, assisting in pro bono cases with local and national law firms, and volunteering with a variety of nonprofit legal organizations.

Every student who graduates from Denver Law therefore completes at least fifty hours of pro bono, public interest work, through a wide array of the pro bono opportunities available through the law school.

The University of Iowa College of Law

The University of Iowa College of Law’s curriculum, clinics and culture reflect a deep commitment to training the next generation of lawyers and leaders to serve their clients and communities. Classes, seminars, in-house clinics, externships and seven faculty-run centers offer students paid, volunteer and credit opportunities in public interest subjects.

The Iowa law college’s placement services help students land public interest and public sector positions across the country.  The Career Services Office presents a rich selection of public interest workshops and programs, and supports students’ participation in national and regional public interest job fairs.  

In addition to this strong academic and placement core, a rich culture of public service has evolved at the college among its students, staff and faculty. Students have organized service trips to New Orleans for hurricane relief work, to South Dakota Indian reservations, and to Chicago public interest agencies. Student organizations regularly sponsor fundraising and service activities for local youth groups, environmental causes, the homeless and poor, legal aid, and other nonprofits. More than $60,000 in summer stipends for summer public interest externships is provided each year, funding having been raised through student efforts and private giving.  The College provides public interest scholarships and has a loan forgiveness program. 

The college’s student government administers two formal recognition programs for student community and pro bono service: the Boyd Service Award is given at different levels at graduation to honor students who have completed from 100 to 200 hours of service, and the Pro Bono Society admits students each semester who perform regular service, attend a professional development (Lawyers & Leaders) program, and reflect on how service adds to their professional identities. In addition, the Iowa Law Volunteerism Initiative matches volunteers, individual or groups, with community agencies serving local needs.

The Citizen Lawyer Program (CLP) serves as the College’s resource home for student public service and particularly for law-related, pro bono activities. In partnership with the courts and with nonprofit and government groups that serve the legal needs of the poor, the CLP has developed law-related, pro bono projects and places up to 120 law students each semester: with court-based self-represented litigant clinics in divorce and bankruptcy; with the public defender and prosecutor; with the Innocence Project of Iowa; and helping to prepare volunteer income tax returns, immigration/domestic violence cases, and legal aid research and web community legal education articles, among other projects. The CLP facilitates and matches individuals and groups with community service opportunities, and coordinates a mandatory half-day of service during orientation, as well as the college’s participation in the National MLK Day of Service. The CLP produces the Lawyers& Leaders series of workshops, lectures, and other programs that focus on pro bono traditions, leadership development, practical lawyer and life skills, and community issues.

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law does more than simply observe pro bono week; we celebrate pro bono month because of a spirit of service that pervades the students, faculty and staff. To inculcate graduates with this spirit of charitable giving, the faculty recently approved a requirement that students spend 40 hours engaging in charitable activities, pro bono or non-legal, in order to graduate. Memphis Law will also hire a full-time pro bono coordinator to assist in these efforts. The current classes, although not obligated, are so active in charitable endeavors they have self-reported more than 2,000 service hours from this summer alone. The students who accrue enough hours wear a Dean’s Distinguished Service Award stole at commencement.
The student body’s charitable efforts currently are directed through student run organizations. The Student Bar Association (“SBA”) and the Public Action Law Society (“PALS”) are chief among them. Each spring, the SBA sponsors, Race Judicata, a 5K through downtown Memphis from which all profits, more than $6,000 last year, benefit Memphis Area Legal Services (“MALS”), an organization dedicated to providing equal access to justice to those at a certain income level.

PALS spearheads a celebration of pro bono month every October. It starts with a panel discussion to empower first-year law students to volunteer in legal settings despite being at the outset of their careers. In attendance this year were representatives from MALS, the Community Legal Center and Shelby County Community Services.  PALS is also hosting a volunteer opportunity fair so that students can easily compare their options and choose the activity that best suits them.

PALS strives to discover new activities for students. PALS is partnering with Shelby County Juvenile Court to provide clerks and jury monitors at the newly instituted "Youth Court" peer justice hearings for juvenile respondents. PALS is also encouraging students to get involved with Court Appointed Special Advocates, Foster Care Review Boards and mentoring juvenile offenders as they reenter the community.

PALS’s primary volunteer effort is Alternative Spring Break (“ASB”). Memphis Law participated in an ASB held at the University of Miami in 2010 to help Haitians displaced by the earthquake. In 2011, PALS hosted its own ASB, bringing in 36 students from six law schools to serve more than 100 clients.  In 2012, PALS will host its second annual on-site Alternative Spring Break Program, bringing together law students from across the nation for three weeks of public interest advocacy. The program has four tracks: (1) an immigration track: students will write U Visa applications for victims of crime, (2) an advance directives track: students will reach out to the elderly and draft living wills and powers of attorney, (3) a pro se divorce track: students will help people below a certain income level file for divorce, and (4) a legislative track: students will draft bills to stop abuse of general commitment, predatory lending practices, and human trafficking at the source. PALS welcomes all applicants!

The University of Miami School of Law

At the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in August, the Law School Division honored The University of Miami School of Law with the 2011 National Achievement Award in Public Interest for its commitment to public interest work and public service.  Whether a student's ultimate goal is to work in the public sector, or integrate pro bono work as a component of a future legal career, Miami Law features a myriad of public interest opportunities which enable students to acquire valuable, hands-on lawyering skills.  Miami Law offers the following public interest initiatives: 

  • Clinics

Miami Law's clinics provide students with the unparalleled opportunity to work with clients, serve the public, and acquire valuable legal skills. Clinics include: Bankruptcy Assistance Clinic, Capital Defense Project, Children & Youth Law Clinic, Community Lawyering Clinic, Federal Appellate Clinic, Health & Elder Law Clinic, Human Rights Clinic, Immigration Clinic, Miami Innocence Project, and Tenants' Rights Clinic.

  • HOPE Public Interest Resource Center (HOPE)

HOPE facilitates a number of legal advocacy and community outreach projects for law students to participate in and to work with various underserved and at-risk populations locally, nationally and internationally. HOPE also offers competitive programs that provide funding for public interest summer opportunities through the Miami Scholars and the HOPE Fellowship programs.

  • Legal Corps, Miami Law’s Post-Graduate Fellowship Program

Legal Corps places recent law graduates in public sector organizations nationwide and internationally.  Economic conditions have decreased funding for public sector agencies while the demand for legal services has dramatically increased. In response, Legal Corps seeks to fill the gaps at understaffed public agencies by providing them with prepared, skilled, and diverse attorneys.

  • Miami STREET Law

STREET LAW is an educational, legal outreach program that trains current law students to teach law, public policy and ethics at schools throughout Miami-Dade County.

  • Public Sector Externships

Miami Law has a variety of externship opportunities through both the Career Development Office's Externship Program and the Litigation Skills Externship Placement Program.

  • The Center for Ethics & Public Service (CEPS)

CEPS offers a variety of programs, including the Historic Black Church Program serving Miami's West Grove residents and Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program (PREP), a program providing legal ethics education to the South Florida Community.

The University of Mississippi School of Law

The University of Mississippi School of Law offers nine in-house clinics, a variety of field placements, and in-house and external pro bono projects. In the Child Advocacy Clinic, students serve as court-appointed guardians ad litem in abuse and neglect cases. The Low-Income Housing Clinic offers assistance to individuals and families facing eviction, dangerous housing conditions, and foreclosure. Elder Law Clinic students write wills, prepare health care directives and powers of attorney, and advise clients on nursing home and Medicaid regulations. In the Transactional Law Clinic, students assist low-capital entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations in the Mississippi Delta. Street Law Clinic students interview and counsel clients at the local food pantry about public benefits, housing, family law, consumer law, property, wills and other civil issues.  Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic students assist low-income taxpayers who have disputes with the IRS, including innocent spouse relief, the earned income tax credit and dependency exemption issues.  The Policy/Legislation Clinic is currently involved in an environmental hazards project, providing research and writing assistance to the Mississippi State Department of Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. The Criminal Appeals Program offers advanced appellate advocacy skills whereby students directly represent indigent persons as special counsel of record in Mississippi appellate courts.  And, the Mississippi Innocence Project & Legal Clinic represents Mississippi state prisoners serving significant periods of incarceration who have cognizable claims of wrongful conviction. 

            Students can also participate in the Law School’s field placement program during their third year of studies. The Law School offers three different field placement programs: the Prosecution Externship Program, the Public Service Internship Program and the Judicial Externship Program. In addition, the law school’s newly formalized Pro Bono Program operates on-site legal clinics in which students assist low-income clients in family law matters, pro se Clinics, in which students assist clients in the courthouse prior to trial, an education and training project in which students teach high school students about various aspects of the law, an in-house program to assist in child support modification cases, and a law reform project in collaboration with the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission.

            Several alternative break options are offered through these programs. The University of Mississippi Public Interest Law Foundation,  a law school student organization, partnered with the Civil Legal Clinic to sponsor an alternative winter break program in 2011. Twenty-five students spent a week in the Mississippi Delta assisting the school’s Civil Legal Clinic in federal housing litigation involving multiple clients and defendants and numerous state and federal claims. The Civil Legal Clinic, in partnership with Harvard University, also offered an alternative spring break for nine students from the two law schools. The students spent a week in Clarksdale in the Mississippi Delta interviewing musicians, music publishers, and a studio owner as to legal issues common in the industry. . The law school hopes to develop a multi-offering alternative spring break program that will expand on its current alternative break projects and ongoing pro bono offerings.

The University of Montana School of Law

The University of Montana School of Law, which celebrates its Centennial in 2011, is a pioneer in providing legal services to underserved populations in Montana and the American West.  With its emphasis on practical skills training dating to the first curriculum in 1911 (which required trial practice), pro bono legal work by students is a natural fit at UM Law.

In the 1960s the School initiated a clinical project to provide legal services for prisoners in the Montana penal system and in 1981 the School’s American Indian Law Clinic became the first of its kind in the United States. Today, all students at The University of Montana School of Law are required to complete skills and clinical training prior to graduation, a cutting edge curricular requirement merging theory and practice known as the “Montana Model.”    

The School maintains four internal clinics (Criminal Defense, Indian Law, Land Use Law and Mediation) and nineteen external offerings for its selective student body of approximately 80 per class.  Many of the School’s clinical offerings, from work with the ACLU, to Montana Legal Services and the Montana Innocence Project, present opportunities for students to work with underserved populations and those otherwise without legal representation.
Over the years, UM Law students have made a lasting impact through their pro bono clinical work.  For example, in 2006, seven law students from the Criminal Defense Clinic, working with their colleagues at The University of Montana School of Journalism, undertook a major project to reverse a century of wrong by seeking posthumous pardons for those convicted of sedition in Montana during WWI.  In a powerful example of the theme “justice for all,” 79 men and women convicted of sedition were pardoned by Governor Brian Schweitzer as a result of this project. 

Today, clinical students are “live-blogging” about the potential sale of the Missoula, Montana water system to the Carlyle Group, providing public information and perspective on the issue.  And this year, through the School’s revamped Career Services Office, a Pro Bono Opportunity Fair will bring together students and non-profit organizations in need of legal assistance.

The commitment to the importance of public service and justice at UM Law begins on day one, when the Student Oath is administered each fall to incoming students:
Today I begin my professional legal career as a member of The University of Montana School of Law community. As a student, I pledge to seek knowledge and understanding of the law and the role of the law and lawyers in society. I pledge to strive to develop the professional skills and the character and values necessary to fulfill the role of a lawyer. I understand that as a lawyer I will be a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system, and a public citizen with special responsibility for the quality of justice. As a student and as a lawyer, I pledge to pursue the truth, to promote justice, and to uphold the principles of honesty, integrity, and civility. 

The University of New Mexico School of Law

The University of New Mexico School of Law encourages all its students to think about how they can use their legal education for public service, training public service lawyers with attention to what they need to be successful, and instilling a sense in those who will enter private practice to think about how they can serve the public as well.
UNM SOL has one of the oldest and most honored legal clinics in the United States, and every student must satisfy a substantial clinic requirement in order to graduate.  Within the clinic, there is a community lawyering clinic, a business and tax clinic with a focus on economic development, and an Indian Law Clinic, which reflects UNM Law School’s pioneering and lasting commitment to train Native and non-Native American students to serve the needs of individuals and tribes.

UNM law students are also able to earn credit for externship field placements with government agencies, like the U.S. Department of Justice and the New Mexico Attorney General, and non-profits of all types, from immigration work with Catholic Charities to children’s law advocacy through Pegasus Legal Services.

From the moment students start their first year, they are asked to perform pro-bono work as part of their practicum class.  First year students are also able to take Poverty Law In Practice as an elective in their second semester.  This course is open to law students and to practicing attorneys and is taught by leading local experts in poverty law.  Students are exposed to areas of practice like benefits, debt, and housing law in such a way that they will have the capacity to incorporate this type of advocacy into their careers.

UNMSOL offers courses like Criminal Law in Practice, which places students in the office of the district attorney and the state public defender, and practice classes in domestic violence and immigration rights.  As a result, UNM prepares students to take their place in public service work with confidence.  Recent UNM law graduates work as attorneys at the U.S. Department of Justice, the United Nations Agency on Refugees, Greenpeace, and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, as well as for state, federal and tribal courts, district attorney offices, and various state and federal public defender offices.

The University of St. Thomas School of Law

The University of St. Thomas School of Law mission is to integrate faith and reason in the search for truth through a focus on morality and social justice. To implement this mission, each member of the law school community is dedicated to promoting excellence in public service. This commitment to service is woven into the law school's fabric. Each of our students is required to perform 50 hours of community service work during their three years of law school. In the fall and spring, more than 100 School of Law volunteers take part in the annual Community Service Day. Students, professors and administrators spend a Saturday painting, raking, cleaning and completing a variety of service projects in the Twin Cities. Each spring, we take time during the Commencement ceremony to recognize the students who have logged a remarkable number of service hours. It is truly inspiring to hear of students who complete not 50, but rather 500 hours of service during their law school career.
Prior to graduation, we also we pay tribute to involvement and leadership in activities that support our mission. The annual Living the Mission Awards ceremony recognizes students, faculty and staff who best exemplify the mission by their activities both in and outside of the classroom. One member of each class receives an overall Living the Mission Award, and individuals and organizations receive awards for Excellence in Professional Preparation, Scholarly Engagement and Societal Reform, and Service and Community.

The University of Texas School of Law

The University of Texas School of Law is committed to developing lawyers who engage in public service by pursuing public interest careers and by doing pro bono work.  The William Wayne Justice Center, The UT Law Pro Bono Program, and the clinical program are three of several institutions supported by the law school to promote public service. 

The William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law promotes public service and equal justice, teaching students about the need to increase access to justice, educating students, faculty, and attorneys about public interest legal issues, supporting students and alumni engaged in public service, and researching legal issues affecting the underserved.  The Justice Center also collaborates with the UT Law Career Services Office to offer students a wealth of advice and information about jobs, fellowships, internships, and scholarships. 

This year the Justice Center will host a wide array of programs highlighting access to justice issues, ranging from large conferences to small workshops.  Recent events include “Introduction to Public Sector Debt Management: A Primer for 1Ls,” “INCENDIARY” movie screening and talk with the movie director and Capital Punishment Clinic faculty, and a workshop on “Post Graduate Public Interest Fellowship for 2Ls.” Current Justice Center research projects include a major study with the LBJ School of Public Affairs for the Texas Legislature on the use of contracts for deed in Texas colonias.  Working with the research team, law students will have the opportunity to travel to the Texas border region to interview homeowners in selected communities.

The UT Law Pro Bono Program, a project of the William Wayne Justice Center, cultivates a strong pro bono ethic at the Law School and develops pro bono opportunities for the Law School community.  The Pro Bono Program works with a variety of partners to develop hands-on projects that meet students’ interests, build their legal skills, and provide important legal services. From orientation to graduation, the Pro Bono Program highlights the need to increase access to justice through classes, trainings, speakers, and other events.

This year, the Pro Bono Program has launched several new initiatives, including the Rural Outreach Initiative (ROI), where UT Law students  travel to rural areas of Texas to participate in community outreach under the supervision of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA).  The ROI employs a community lawyering model, driven by the needs of the communities it serves, to identify systemic issues where legal remedies could change conditions for significant clusters of local residents.  Students are also partnering with Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas to assist pro se divorce petitioners and assisting pro bono attorneys for American Gateways who represent political asylum petitioners.

Finally, the University of Texas School of Law also has one of the largest and most vibrant clinical programs in the country. We established our first clinic in 1974 and have steadily expanded our offerings, adding seven new courses in the last three years. Over 450 upper-class students participate annually in our fifteen clinics and seven internships. 

For more information please see:

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

As a second year student at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, I am thankful to find myself immersed in an environment that is strongly devoted to social justice and public service. I was drawn to TJSL because of the school’s commitment to diversity in all aspects, as well as its commitment to community outreach. As a student, and this year’s Public Interest Law Foundation president at TJSL, I am continuously motivated by this dedication to service and am thrilled to be a part of it.

One way TJSL promotes public service through the law on campus is by incorporating public interest principles throughout many different academic programs. As a foundation for these programs, a wide variety of courses introduce students to various aspects of public interest, including courses ranging from Employment Discrimination Law to International Human Rights Law. Expanding upon this curriculum, the Center for Law and Social Justice at TJSL promotes research and learning in areas of public policy and law relating to civil rights, civil liberties, international human rights, and equal access to justice. This program also allows students to obtain a certificate by meeting different requirements, including attending events, taking applicable courses, and completing Pro Bono service. 

Additionally, TJSL hosts four clinical programs that provide valuable and needed legal services to those disadvantaged in our community. The Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic provides a variety of legal services to residents and alumni of Veterans Village of San Diego homelessness program. Legal areas TJSL students assist with include areas in family, criminal, consumer, and administrative law.

TJSL’s student run Tax Law Society runs the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program during tax season. Students provide valuable community service in the form of free income tax preparation to low-income individuals.

TSJL has just opened the Small Business Law Center, to provide pro bono legal assistance to area entrepreneurs, and the law school operates a Mediation Program where student represent citizens in Small Claims Court.

By participating in these clinics, students obtain crucial legal knowledge as well as foster a devotion to serving the public.

In addition to these programs, several student-led organizations on campus have also made it their mission to provide public service to the community. These organizations are very diverse, ranging from the Public Interest Law Foundation to the Family Law Society, and all provide students with unique ways to give back and get involved. Annually, these organizations participate in community service projects spanning from serving meals to the homeless to helping clean San Diego’s beaches. These organizations also contribute to the public service dialogue on campus by bringing in advocates from the community to speak at panel campus events. Through these events, students are able to develop their commitment to social service, knowledge of the law, and learn about different career opportunities.

I came to law school from a career in social services and I feel my desire to continue helping indigent individuals has only grown while attending TJSL. Thanks to different campus faculty and student mentors, and the different programs on campus, I feel confident that I will have the skills and understanding necessary to be a successful advocate for public service law.

-Stephanie Lamson

UC Davis School of Law

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.   Since its founding more than 40 years ago, UC Davis School of Law  has dedicated itself to the ideals of social justice and public service espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for whom the Law School building is named.  As a result, King Hall draws faculty and students committed to using the power of the law to address injustices and solve problems faced by the poor, the disabled, consumers, the elderly, and those who lack equal access to the legal system.
We are proud that so many of our students go on to work in public interest and public sector careers where their knowledge, skills, and experience can have maximum impact.  Most students in the Public Interest Law concentration take advantage of opportunities to work in the Law School’s clinical programs, helping immigrants, prisoners, victims of domestic violence, and others while gaining invaluable, real-world experience.  

The UC Davis Family Protection and Legal Assistance Clinic is the sole provider of free legal assistance to low-income victims of domestic violence in Yolo County, California, where more than 18 percent of residents live below the federal poverty level.  The Immigration Law Clinic provides an invaluable service to Northern California’s immigrant communities, offering education and free legal services, including citizenship workshops, to low-income immigrants.  The Civil Rights Clinic provides legal services to indigent clients who have filed civil rights actions in federal court, and students in the Prison Law Clinic use their skills to assist persons with problems related to incarceration in state prison.

Many students also participate in student organizations, many of which have a public service component.  The King Hall Legal Foundation (KHLF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to increasing equal access of underserved populations to the American Legal System.  The Foundation funds projects proposed and executed by King Hall students, and supports graduating students pursuing careers in the public interest as they prepare for the Bar Examination.  The Humanitarian Aid Legal Aid Organization (HALO) offers students the opportunity to travel over spring break to provide free legal aid in underserved communities such as East St. Louis, Mo., and Biloxi, Miss., and to participate in other activities such as a recent “Build Day,” in which students volunteered for Habitat for Humanity.

One of the most inspiring events each year at King Hall is the Public Service Graduation held every spring, which includes the presentation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award to the student best exemplifying Dr. King’s commitment to public service.  This year, more than 100 third-year students—about half of the Class of 2011—received Public Interest Law Certificates.  In all, the certificate recipients completed a whopping 87,000 hours of public service over the course of their law school careers!

University of California Hastings College of the Law

University of California Hastings College of the Law has a long-standing commitment to promoting the development of a pro bono ethic in all our students.  Toward this end, in the fall of 2008, we adopted a formal, albeit voluntary, Pro Bono Program.  The policies and procedures for the program were the product of the Pro Bono Advisory Committee, which included students from each year and who represented a wide array of interests and perspectives.  Among the topics considered, the Committee wrestled with determining a definition of pro bono, the number of hours necessary to receive graduation recognition, and how the program should be administered.  Each year since its inception, the Pro Bono Program has been introduced to the entering class.  There is now a rich culture of Pro Bono which is a part of the student experience.   For more information on the Pro Bono Program, please see:

In addition to the Pro Bono Program, the many clinical and externship offerings reinforce and promote student awareness and involvement in public service.  A complete overview of these courses is available at:  For students contemplating a career in public service, they may concentrate their course of studies in Criminal Law, Social Justice Lawyering, Law and Health Sciences, or Tax.  For an overview of the Concentrations, see: There are specialists in our Career and Professional Development Office to assist students as they consider career options and how to pursue them.  Programs such as the alumni mentor program and speaker series are all geared toward helping students achieve their goals.  Please see:

We continue to add new projects and opportunities for students to provide Pro Bono services through local Legal Services organizations.  For a listing of pro bono opportunities, see From a curricular perspective, we anticipate adding a Concentration in Government Law.

UC Irvine School of Law

The Pro Bono Program at UC Irvine School of Law is a reflection of the school’s deep commitment to experiential learning and public service. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in the program, providing legal services to underserved communities while supervised by an attorney or member of the law school faculty. Although the program is not mandatory, more than 90% of  students are participating.

Students do not receive academic credit or financial gain for their work. However, the program does provide opportunities for UCI Law students to practice and expand the skills learned in the classroom while experiencing the challenges and rewards of practicing law and assisting real clients. Opportunities exist for students to volunteer at many organizations during the academic year and during school breaks.

In addition to the tremendous learning experiences provided by the program, students will provide much-needed services to underserved members of the community. UC Irvine School of Law strives to ingrain a commitment to pro bono service in each student. Some students may be inspired to dedicate their careers to public service, while others will understand the importance of making pro bono work a substantial part of their work in private practice or government work.

UCLA School of Law

UCLA School of Law, one of the nation’s premier public law schools, has a proud tradition of public service.  Through our rich and innovative academic and pro bono programs, our vibrant public interest community, our ties to one of the country’s foremost universities, and our location in one of the most diverse and exciting cities in the world, we are committed to preparing the public interest lawyers and advocates of the future and nurturing a public service ethic in all of our students. 

UCLA’s Programs, Centers, Institutes, and diverse curricular offerings afford students the opportunity to study and experience the role of law in effecting social change in the context of some of the most provocative issues of the day.  The David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy brings to the School and engages some of the most dedicated and accomplished public interest-minded students from across the country.  The Critical Race Studies Program is the only program in the nation devoted to the study of the intersection between race and the law. The Environmental Law Programs are leaders in addressing the legal and institutional aspects of our most pressing environmental challenges.  The Williams Institute is a national center for the interdisciplinary exploration of issues central to sexual orientation law. The International Human Rights Law Program aims to advance the norms of international human rights law through research, advocacy, and public education. 
UCLA’s public interest-oriented curricular offerings are augmented by a wealth of panel discussions, colloquia, symposia, inter-disciplinary collaborations, and community partnerships that enable students to integrate theory and practice. 

All students also benefit from the initiatives of the Office of Public Interest Programs, which sponsors a slate of public interest programs and activities throughout the year, facilitates student pro bono engagement, and works individually with all students who are interested in pursuing pro bono opportunities, public interest summer internships, and/or postgraduate public interest employment. 

Students themselves play a critical role in our public interest life.  Students coordinate an array of pro bono initiatives in partnership with local public interest organizations.  The El Centro Legal Clinics, the School’s largest student-coordinated pro bono effort,comprises thirteen volunteer clinics with which more than 200 of our first-year students volunteer each year. A variety of other students organizations also coordinate pro bono efforts, as well as sponsoring an extensive slate of formal and informal programs that focus on some of the most significant local, national, and international challenges confronting our society. 

This year, students are engaged in two important new pro bono efforts.  Our Veterans Law Students Association is coordinating an effort to assist homeless veterans.  And, our Business Law Students Association is establishing an effort to assist returning veterans who are disabled and seek to start up businesses.  

UCLA School of Law remains committed to serving its public mission by continuing to engage in the fabric of our local, national, and international communities. We expect our students to be actively engaged in shaping the future of these communities.

University of Arkansas School of Law

At the University of Arkansas School of Law, we have embraced the celebration of National Pro Bono Week as part of our wider mission to expand the access to justice for citizens in our local community, the state, and the nation.  Under the leadership of our new Dean, Stacy L. Leeds, our faculty provides a workable model of Pro Bono service through their work on projects locally and nationwide, through their service on boards such as Arkansas Access to Justice Commission, and through their support of ongoing projects such as our poverty law clinics and our Habitat for Humanity Wills Project. 

We work to support and encourage our students in Pro Bono work by helping match them with programs and agencies in the community that need assistance.  This has led to students establishing and assisting with Legal Aid of Arkansas’s help-line and providing research assistance to local attorneys who are taking cases Pro Bono.  Students who perform exceptional amounts of Pro Bono service are recognized each year at our Pro Bono Awards Ceremony, where we highlight outstanding annual performance by students in each class, as well as the Judge Bobby Fussell Outstanding Pro Bono Award, recognizing the graduating student with the most hours over the law school career here at the University.

This year, we are celebrating Pro Bono Week with a number of exciting activities.  Monday, we will have an information table running all day to help acquaint students with Pro Bono and community service opportunities available through the School of Law, and to encourage their participation throughout this week and the academic year.  We are also pleased to host the Honorable Lioneld Jordan, Mayor of the City of Fayetteville, who will issue an official proclamation celebrating access to justice in our community. 

On Tuesday, we are hosting a luncheon panel with the Presidents of two local bar associations, and the 2011 Arkansas Legal Aid Outstanding Service Award Winner, who will speak about the importance of Pro Bono in the local legal community.

Wednesday, we are teaming up with Legal Aid of Arkansas, the City of Fayetteville, and the Washington and Benton County Bar Associations to host the “Responders First” Program, which will provide free preparation of simple wills, powers of attorney, and advanced medical directives for fire fighters, police, and EMT personnel in Fayetteville.  The event will provide a lunch training and CLE program, followed by a 3 hour outreach for up to 75 local heroes.  We plan to build on the success of the program and expand it in the spring to include First Responders from around Washington and Benton County.

Finally, on Friday of Pro Bono Week, the Law School is encouraging all faculty, staff, and students to take part in Just Jeans by wearing jeans and making a $5 donation to Arkansas Access to Justice to help support free legal services state-wide.  We are excited about the week and looking forward to building on its success throughout the year.

UC Berkeley School of Law

As one of the foremost public law schools in the nation, UC Berkeley School of Law takes seriously its responsibility to develop, train, and support the next generations of attorneys in the value of public service. Through dedicated faculty, staff, and administrative resources, as well as clinics and research centers that focus on real-world problems, students receive the support they need to explore and pursue their public interest passions from the first day they arrive and throughout their careers.  Programs and courses ranging from lecture series to small seminars to symposia and workshops that provide access to leading thinkers in social justice fields ensure that students gain critical skills and broaden their views of how law can achieve social change. Berkeley Law has a reputation not only for a faculty that includes leading scholars in areas that touch every area of public interest practice but also for a student body that creates a community and environment supportive of public service. First-year students are presented with public interest curricular options in their second semester. Student organizations, working closely with public interest practitioners, Berkeley Law staff, and faculty, offer hands-on service opportunities through community-based pro bono programs. Clinics, practicum, and courses that illuminate how law can be used to impact injustice in the US and internationally, provide the framework for participation in symposia, conferences, workshops, and other activities that round out a student’s experience. Joint degree programs add to the breadth of opportunities Boalt offers. Dedicated career development staff and public interest programs organized by the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice and the Career Development Office provide invaluable, concrete assistance for students in their exploration of their professional options. Guaranteed summer public interest stipends permit exploration of various public interest career paths. And, our generous Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) gives Berkeley Law graduates the financial support to pursue their public interest passions immediately. Berkeley Law is committed to supporting, nurturing, and developing future public interest, private sector, and government leaders who recognize the ways in which the legal system can and must address inequities as well as build a just society.

The University of Chicago Law School

When Dean Michael Schill joined The University of Chicago Law School as its new Dean last year in 2010, he immediately began implementing programs and initiatives to renew the Law School’s emphasis on public service and public interest law. Beginning with the July 2010 hiring of Susan J. Curry, Director of Public Interest Law & Policy, the Law School has significantly increased both financial and programmatic support for students and alumni in public interest. Among the programs benefiting students at the Law School are:

  • a loan repayment assistance program launched in March 2011, that covers all of a graduate’s loan payments so long as he or she meets federal requirements and stays within a very high salary cap of $80,000. The Chicago program is unique in its generosity and its simplicity: it does not take into account any spousal income or other assets of the participating graduate. The program also includes all judicial clerkships as eligible positions.
  • guaranteed funding of $5,000 to any law student who chooses to work in a public interest law position during the summer. Students are eligible for this stipend during the summer after their first year, or the summer after their second year, or both summers. Eligible summer public interest positions include work for non-profit legal aid and advocacy organizations and policy groups; federal, state and local governmental legal positions; and international human rights organizations and other law-based NGOs.
  • expanded opportunities in the renowned Mandel Legal Aid Clinic and the Law School’s other exceptional clinics;
  • amplified assistance with fellowship applications and career counseling and increased support for student attendance at public interest job fairs
  • expanded international public service opportunities and international human rights summer fellowships; and
  • a new formal student pro bono program launched in October 2010, in conjunction with National Pro Bono Week. Dedicated to the principle that those aspiring to enter the legal profession have a professional obligation to assist in providing quality legal services to individuals, groups or causes that are under-represented in the legal system, the Law School encourages its students to participate in its new Pro Bono Program. In the first eleven months after launching the program, 140 Chicago law students had taken the pledge and had logged a combined total of 2,700+ pro bono hours with various community legal service providers, including Cook County Public Defender, Equip for Equality, Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, National Immigrant Justice Center, Associacion de Vendadores Ambulantes (Street Vendors’ Association in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood), National Resources Defense Council, Cook County Office of the Public Guardian, Illinois Legal Aid Online, and the Chicago Law & Education Foundation – Chicago Public Schools Legal Clinic.

The 2011-12 academic year will see continued growth in public interest law and pro bono. The Law School has just announced the launching of a new environmental law clinic; students will also see additional substantive public interest curricular and clinical offerings including course and field placement pairings in the areas of gender and domestic violence, and criminal prosecution and defense. 

University of Florida Levin College of Law

"Public service is a core value at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, and it has been at the heart of our mission for decades.  Preparing our students to serve not only their clients but also the justice system and the public consistently with the highest ethical standards and ideals of the legal profession is an indispensable part of providing students with a well-rounded legal education.”   UF Levin College of Law Dean Robert H. Jerry

Living and working in a smaller, more rural community creates challenges for students with finding public interest law placements.  Yet, UF Law students and faculty are nonetheless immersed in the legal work of our state and local community.  UF Law’s Pro Bono Project gives students the opportunity to perform valuable community service, learn about the legal needs of traditionally underserved groups, and gain practical legal experience.  Since 2009, UF Law students have donated some 25,676 hours of pro bono work.  The Joseph W. Little Pro Bono Support Fund reimburses students for reasonable travel and office expenses associated with completing pro bono work.  Moreover, UF Law’s various fellowship programs also support student placement at government agencies and non-profit, public interest organizations.  Such fellowship programs include the Center for Governmental Responsibility’s Public Interest Law Fellowship (funded by the Florida Bar Foundation) and the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations’ Yegelwel Fellowship

Students have the opportunity to participate in several criminal or civil clinics, representing indigent clients, non-profits or public entities.  One such clinic, the Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Clinic, is breaking new ground nationally by collaborating with the UF College of Medicine, Shands Teaching Hospital and local non-profit Peaceful Paths Domestic Abuse Network, providing low-income victims of intimate partner violence with comprehensive legal, medical and social services.  Additionally, UF Law’s new Criminal Justice Certificate Program provides academic advising, mentorship, area-specific education, and detailed criminal-practice training for students dedicated to a career in public service in criminal law.  In addition to the clinics, students have access to a variety of externships at courts, local governments, state and federal agencies and elsewhere, most of which focus on some aspect of public interest law.

Students also work with local groups to assist in: restoring the civil rights of convicted felons; providing volunteer low-income tax assistance; and conducting research for the Florida Innocence Commission, which is advising the Florida Supreme Court on reducing wrongful convictions.  Moreover, the Association for Public Interest Law, the Center for Career Development, the Florida Bar Foundation Public Interest Law Fellows at the Center for Governmental Responsibility, the Environmental and Land Use Law Society and other student organizations promote public interest law on campus by bringing in speakers, hosting conferences, connecting students with public interest law resources, and raising awareness through events such as the Public Interest Law Week.  Students and Faculty at UF Law recognize the importance of public service and work to carry out public interest and pro bono work statewide.

-Dominique McPherson, Nicole Safker & Yvette Sturkes, UF Law students & Florida Bar Foundation Public Interest Law Fellows

The University of La Verne College of Law

The University of La Verne College of Law is located in the inland region of Southern California, a large geographic area with a growing, diverse population that encompasses Riverside and San Bernardino Counties and extends from the eastern edge of Los Angeles County to the Nevada and Arizona border. We serve a population base of roughly 6 million people which is underserved by the legal profession.

Our students are actively engaged in public service and pro bono work. Over the last two years our newly installed student chapter of the Public Interest Law Foundation raised money aimed at providing funding for public interest fellowships for law students working in volunteer public service positions.  La Verne Law has also instituted a community service day in which the entire first year class participates in a variety of service activities at different locations throughout the community. From the first week of law school, we want to instill in our students the idea that what makes the profession of law noble is the work lawyers do serving the neediest members of society.

The University of La Verne is a Hispanic Serving Institution and has a student population that draws predominantly from our surrounding area. La Verne Law prides itself on community engagement, offering a range of programs that provide services to our surrounding communities.
La Verne Law’s Justice and Immigration Clinic offers students the opportunity, under the supervision of an attorney, to provide free legal assistance to local immigrants seeking asylum in the United States. La Verne Law also has a Disability Rights Legal Center which works to promote the rights of people with disabilities and awareness of those rights by providing legal and related services.

In 2011, La Verne Law formed the first and only law school partnership with the Peace Corps Fellows/USA Program in order to attract more public service minded students who show an understanding of the local implications of global problems. Fellows/USA is a graduate fellowship program that offers financial assistance and degree-related internships to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs).  Under the program La Verne Law Fellows will have the opportunity to direct their talents toward advocating for children’s and workers’ rights, disabilities services, and public defenders’ services, or combating human trafficking and slavery, among other important issues.

On the global front, La Verne Law hosted a landmark international symposium, "Afghanistan & State Building," and is engaged in a public-private partnership to generate protocols for how judicial systems are instituted in new and recovering countries. This important dialogue involves academics, government officials, and members of the Afghan judicial system.

La Verne Law also has an active externship program with a variety of government agencies, public interest organizations, non-profits and judges to provide an opportunity to study the legal process through community-based externship placements and to apply the knowledge and skills
developed in law school in a practical setting.

La Verne Law is accredited by the State Bar of California. 

University of Maine School of Law

Public interest is an integral part of the mission and culture at the University of Maine School of Law. We take our responsibility as a public institution seriously. Maine Law was one of the first law schools in the country to adopt a voluntary pro bono service requirement for students; and in every year since that the program has been in place, a significant fraction of the graduating class has been recognized at commencement for having completed 80 hours (or more) of pro bono service while attending law school.

Each year, many members of the third year class become “student attorneys” through our integrated clinical program, representing low-income individuals living in Southern and Central Maine. In addition to general practice, prisoner assistance (civil), or juvenile justice responsibilities, all student attorneys participate in a Domestic Violence Program. Under this program, student attorneys represent victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking in protection from abuse proceedings.
Other students take advantage of the law school’s Externship Program (which is being expanded in the 2011-12 academic year) or the numerous summer public interest fellowships available to work with various governmental agencies, legal services organizations, and other public interest entities.  Maine's residents also benefit from participation of students in our Intellectual Property Law Clinic and Externship program.

Public interest is found throughout the Maine Law curriculum. As noted above, we offer clinical and externship opportunities devoted to public interest legal work, and almost all of our professors infuse public interest issues in their courses. Students, faculty, and the legal community have opportunities to engage in discussion and debate with public interest scholars and speakers at the law school. One example is the Frank M. Coffin Lecture on Law and Public Service series, which brings an outstanding leader to Maine to explore and reflect upon the intersection of law and public policy. Created in 1992 to honor the distinguished career of the late Hon. Frank M. Coffin (Senior Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit), Coffin lecturers have included Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Richard J. Goldstone, Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, Senator Warren B. Rudman, and Professor Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Jonathan Lash, former president of the World Resources Institute, will deliver the 2011 Coffin Lecture.

Maine Law graduates bring a sense of public services into their careers as well. Our graduates can be found directing legal services agencies, building innovative programs as public interest post-graduate fellows, leading non-profit organizations, and engaging in government service as state attorney generals, legislators, members of the judiciary, and more.

University of Michigan Law School

The University of Michigan Law School has long been a leader in public service. That’s part of our heritage as a public school, and it stretches back to our beginnings in 1859. In 2011, now more than ever, Michigan Law is dedicated to:

  1. Building and fostering a robust public interest community of alumni, students, and faculty;
  2. Linking students with hands-on experience during the school year; and
  3. Making it financially possible for students to pursue a career in public service.

At Michigan, students find a supportive community among their classmates.  Student groups, such as the Organization of Public Interest Students, offer peer mentor programs, develop their own pro bono and community service projects, and host numerous programs throughout the year. Michigan Law also boasts a vast community of over 1,700 alumni worldwide who work in public service, including a network of more than 800 alumni who have eagerly volunteered to counsel students exploring public service opportunities.

The Pro Bono Pledge asks students to voluntarily commit to performing 50 hours of pro bono service while enrolled at Michigan Law. At any given time, there are more than 30 active pro bono projects, stretching across the country and abroad, and addressing a myriad of practice areas.  Students can also choose among 12 clinics, covering a vast variety of topics -- from microfinance to human trafficking to child advocacy to environmental, to name a few -- and are led by practitioners at the top of their various fields.  Finally, students can gain more practical experience via our full-time and part-time externship programs.  Our full-time program allows students to spend a semester with a government office or nonprofit organization, or they can choose to participate in our established international externship programs in Geneva or South Africa.  New in 2011, students can participate in a part-time externship program and choose a local organization to work for at least one day per week.
Of course, one of the biggest questions on the mind of public service students is how they can possibly afford to pursue public service. Michigan Law has put its money where its mouth is, to help students do just that. We have one of the best loan repayment assistance programs  in the country, and numerous funding sources for summer employment, including the Dean's Public Service Fellows Program and the 2L Public Service Guarantee.

There are numerous other funding opportunities specifically for Michigan Law Students, including  Student Funded FellowshipsClara Belfield and Henry Bates Overseas Fellowships, Bergstrom Child Welfare Law Summer Fellowship, the Fellowship in Refugee and Asylum LawProgram for Cambodian Law and Development, and the Robert B. Fiske, Jr. Fellowship Program for Government Service.

Fostering the community, creating opportunities for hands-on experience, and offering genuine financial support make it possible for Michigan Law students to pursue public service as a career and help inspire Michigan Law alumni to make public service an on-going part of their work.

University of Missouri School of Law

University of Missouri School of Law will celebrate National Pro Bono week and the work done by pro bono lawyers in Missouri to meet the needs of the country’s most vulnerable citizens.  Throughout the week, students who have participated in pro bono activities will be recognized.  MU Law students will have the opportunity to attend several programs celebrating pro bono work.  These include a Pro Bono Student Panel comprised of law students currently involved in pro bono activities in Mid-Missouri on Tuesday, October 25th. Additionally, on Thursday, October 26th, we will present “Mental Health, Due Process and All the Peanut Butter You Can Eat”, which will feature the work of Guardians Ad Litem who volunteer at the Missouri University Psychiatric Center. 

During the week, students will also be able to participate in two clinics held in conjunction with attorneys at Mid-Missouri Legal Services. A Power of Attorney clinic for the residents of Oak Towers, a housing facility for seniors, will occur on Tuesday afternoon on the 25th.  An Uncontested Divorce Clinic for pro se litigants will run on Friday Oct. 28th, with a mandatory student training taking place on Oct. 17th. For more information, go to

In addition, we offer students exposure to a public service ethic through our Externship Program and through the Clinical Programs we sponsor. MU Law’s Externship Program introduces students to a variety of public interest settings. Students have been placed in externships with agencies such as; Mid-Missouri Legal Services, the Federal Public Defender’s Office, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health.  Through participation in these externships, law students learn the importance of providing services to those community members most in need.

Students who participate in Family Violence Clinic represent indigent victims of domestic abuse.  They assist clients in obtaining Orders of Protection, as well as drafting and lobbying for legislation affecting victims of abuse.  Law students have also worked to win parole for women convicted of murdering their abusive spouses.  

In the Innocence Clinic, students work with The Midwestern Innocence Project, a non-profit organization.  Students assist experienced lawyers and clinical professors in handling cases of possible wrongful conviction from six states.  Students have the opportunity to review case transcripts, gather documents and other evidence, search for witnesses and conduct interviews. For more information on our clinical programs, go to

In the Spring of 2011, the law school awarded its first public service/public interest loans under its new Shortridge Loan Program.  The interest-free loans are awarded to a select group of students who choose public service/public interest work as their summer employment. The program awards ten $4,000 loans annually.  The purpose of these awards is to encourage students to think about public service/public interest work as a career, and to support students during their summer while they explore specific areas of practice within the field.

The University of Montana School of Law

The University of Montana School of Law, which celebrates its Centennial in 2011, is a pioneer in providing legal services to underserved populations in Montana and the American West.  With its emphasis on practical skills training dating to the first curriculum in 1911 (which required trial practice), pro bono legal work by students is a natural fit at UM Law.

In the 1960s the School initiated a clinical project to provide legal services for prisoners in the Montana penal system and in 1981 the School’s American Indian Law Clinic became the first of its kind in the United States. Today, all students at The University of Montana School of Law are required to complete skills and clinical training prior to graduation, a cutting edge curricular requirement merging theory and practice known as the “Montana Model.”    

The School maintains four internal clinics (Criminal Defense, Indian Law, Land Use Law and Mediation) and nineteen external offerings for its selective student body of approximately 80 per class.  Many of the School’s clinical offerings, from work with the ACLU, to Montana Legal Services and the Montana Innocence Project, present opportunities for students to work with underserved populations and those otherwise without legal representation.
Over the years, UM Law students have made a lasting impact through their pro bono clinical work.  For example, in 2006, seven law students from the Criminal Defense Clinic, working with their colleagues at The University of Montana School of Journalism, undertook a major project to reverse a century of wrong by seeking posthumous pardons for those convicted of sedition in Montana during WWI.  In a powerful example of the theme “justice for all,” 79 men and women convicted of sedition were pardoned by Governor Brian Schweitzer as a result of this project. 

Today, clinical students are “live-blogging” about the potential sale of the Missoula, Montana water system to the Carlyle Group, providing public information and perspective on the issue.  And this year, through the School’s revamped Career Services Office, a Pro Bono Opportunity Fair will bring together students and non-profit organizations in need of legal assistance.

The commitment to the importance of public service and justice at UM Law begins on day one, when the Student Oath is administered each fall to incoming students:
Today I begin my professional legal career as a member of The University of Montana School of Law community. As a student, I pledge to seek knowledge and understanding of the law and the role of the law and lawyers in society. I pledge to strive to develop the professional skills and the character and values necessary to fulfill the role of a lawyer. I understand that as a lawyer I will be a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system, and a public citizen with special responsibility for the quality of justice. As a student and as a lawyer, I pledge to pursue the truth, to promote justice, and to uphold the principles of honesty, integrity, and civility. 

University of Oklahoma College of Law

University of Oklahoma College of Law’s  Students for Access to Justice promotes a culture of public service commitment by connecting University of Oklahoma law students with meaningful pro bono volunteer opportunities.  Each year OU law students set new records for their contributions to public service.  Between April 2010 and April 2011, students worked a record 11,447 pro bono hours.  In summer 2011, students worked a record 8,645 hours. 

Each spring, a number of local government and public service organizations are invited to campus for a Public Interest and Pro Bono Career Fair, where students and organizations representatives can make connections.  Through the Fair, students find unpaid internships with organizations such as the Catholic Charities Immigration Assistance Program, Legal Aid, local prosecutors and public defenders, Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, and Oklahoma Lawyers for America’s Heroes.

The OU College of Law has two signature volunteer programs, in addition to its extensive clinical offerings.  The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program is an IRS-sponsored program that provides free income tax assistance to low-income individuals, senior citizens, non-English-speaking individuals, and the disabled. In the fall of 2009, SATJ launched its own pro bono program providing assistance to victims of domestic violence who are seeking protective orders.  Students staff an office at the Cleveland County Courthouse during peak hours and guide victims through the VPO application. 

Students are encouraged to participate in pro bono activities through a series of awards.  Each spring, SATJ hosts the Annual Pro Bono Recognition reception, where all students who performed at least 25 hours of pro bono or unpaid public interest work over the prior calendar year are honored.  At Commencement, graduates who have completed 50 or more hours of pro bono work during their law school careers receive cords.  Those who have worked more than 100 hours receive two cords.  In 2011, more than 50 graduating students were recognized for their pro bono contributions. 

The College of Law also sponsors several fellowships each summer to provide financial support to students who are working more than 200 hours unpaid for a government or non-profit organization.  OU Law’s summer funding programs include the Coats Fellowship for Summer Public Service, the Marjorie P. Maute Memorial Fellowship, and the Cindy Foley Memorial Indigent Defense Fellowship. Eligible students must demonstrate completed arrangements to work unpaid for a public service or public interest organization over the summer.  In 2011, seven students received a total of $8,000 in summer funding.  The College of Law anticipates offering more summer funding awards each year.  All students, including those who take paid summer jobs, are encouraged to support summer fellowships with generous monetary donations through the annual Race Judicata and Donate-A-Day’s Pay events.

The Henry Lecture Series is an annual event initiated in 2000 to inspire and educate future generations of scholars, lawyers, and public servants. Past speakers have included Gregory Craig, White House Counsel - 2010; Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. – 2009; and Justice Stephen G. Breyer – 2008. 

University of Oregon School of Law

The University of Oregon School of Law culture encourages student participation in public service. Students choose Oregon Law because of its public service emphasis and the rich offerings in public service through student group projects, curricular offerings, Centers and Programs, symposia, and more.  In the last five years, an astounding 48% of Oregon Law graduates accepted positions in public service. We cultivate a public service ethic from the outset by involving students in public service projects during orientation week through the Public Interest Public Service Program’s (“PIPS”) Public Service Day.  The PIPS Program also hosts an inspiring public service symposium in September drawing significant student participation.

Our Center for Career Planning and Professional Development offers a half-time Public Service Career Counselor, sponsors public service career programs, and maintains comprehensive on-line and library resources to facilitate public service job searches. In collaboration with the Center for Career Planning, our office of Public Service Initiatives offers career counseling and programs on debt relief initiatives, including Loan Repayment Assistance Programs and the College Cost Reduction and Access Act.

In addition, our Centers — the Environment and Natural Resources Center, Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics, Appropriate Dispute Resolution Center, and Child Advocacy Program — each involve students in public service projects and activities.

We encourage students to participate in our array of clinical programs and externships, most of which offer hands-on public service activities.

The Pro Bono Program encourages students to participate in community education through StreetLaw, has an active Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, and refers students to local organizations that serve vulnerable populations. The Pro Bono Program sponsors twice-annual Open Houses to inform students of local pro bono opportunities and resources, and it recognizes student pro bono at an annual recognition ceremony.

The Oregon Law Student Public Interest Fund raises funds for stipends for students to accept positions with public service organizations. 

Oregon Law’s new public service opportunities in the 2011-12 academic year.  Oregon Law is delighted to collaborate with Legal Aid Services of Oregon, the United States Bankruptcy Court, and the private bar in a new Bankruptcy Clinic for low-income individuals; law student volunteers will assist in a variety of capacities.

Oregon Law has added a non-profit law clinic. This innovative clinic, a joint venture with the UO's Department of Planning, Public Policy & Management and the Master's Degree Program in Conflict and Dispute Resolution, will help students learn more about nonprofit work through hands-on experience working with non-profit clients. Through the program, students will learn how to negotiate the legal landscape of nonprofit organizations.
In addition, the Pro Bono Program has joined with two new community partners: 1)Law students are working with St. Vincent DePaul to teach Landlord-Tenant relations as part of St. Vincent’s Renter’s Rehabilitation Program; the program helps evicted and homeless individuals re-enter the rental market upon completion of the eight-week program; 2)Law students are preparing to teach three classes at Centro LatinoAmericano in Spanish: Landlord Tenant relations; Fair Housing Law; and Visa applications.

University of Pennsylvania Law School

One of the first law schools in the country to require students to engage in pro bono work, the University of Pennsylvania Law School  aims to promote an ethic of service in all students while encouraging them to develop professional skills and enhance their legal education.  The centerpiece of Penn Law’s pledge to service is a graduation obligation for students of 70 hours of pro bono legal work. The Toll Public Interest Center (TPIC) is the heart of public interest activity at Penn Law. TPIC provides information and counseling to all students, while coordinating a wide range of pro bono and public interest initiatives. Through collaborations with students, faculty, administration, the Gittis Center for Clinical Legal Studies, Career Planning and Professionalism, and International Programs, TPIC is able to facilitate a diverse spectrum of pro bono opportunities and public interest programming.

Penn Law students perform pro bono services for hundreds of nonprofits, government and legal services agencies, and law firms locally, nationally, and globally. Penn Law’s 24 student-run pro bono groups enable students to satisfy their pro bono requirement while engaging in acts of leadership, working with their peers, and serving causes about which students are most passionate. For those committed to a career in the public sector, Penn Law offers the Toll Public Interest Scholars Program. Each year as part of the program, the law school awards a generous scholarship to several admitted students who have the highest academic credentials and demonstrated dedication to public service. Penn Law also offers select public interest students summer funding opportunities and post graduate fellowships.

For 2011-12, Penn Law is implementing several new pro bono projects. As with all pro bono groups, the newest initiatives are created and managed by student leaders who receive guidance, support, and oversight from the Toll Public Interest Center. These latest projects include:

  • Health Law and Policy Project (HeLPP) - Focuses on increasing healthcare access and quality, especially for underserved populations, through direct support to patients and research.
  • Veterans Legal Assistance Project – Provides targeted and useful resources to Philadelphia Veterans in need of civil legal assistance and supports attorneys in Philadelphia who have made it a priority to serve Veterans in their community.
  • Women’s Legal Assistance Project - Addresses housing, employment, custody, and benefit issues by providing holistic legal support and education specially tailored to meet the needs of formerly incarcerated women.
  • Youth Court – Teens who have had behavioral infringements at school will have the opportunity for their cases to be tried by their peers. This project seeks to introduce young people to the legal system – and their potential roles in that system, while serving as a platform of expression and a deterrent for future infractions.

Above all, the spirit of service at Penn Law has created a community not only dedicated to the highest caliber of legal acumen, but equally as committed to pro bono work and public interest initiatives. If you would like to learn more about Penn Law’s community of service, please visit our website:

University of Pittsburgh School of Law

The University of Pittsburgh School of Law is committed to preparing students for careers in the public interest. Pitt Law created a Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) in 2007 which financially assists students who decide to pursue public interest careers. Additionally, Pitt Law operates a Public Interest Scholarship Program which provides scholarships for incoming students committed to working within the public sector.

The Pitt Legal Income Sharing Foundation (PLISF) is a student-run 503(c)(3) non-profit organizations that finds a home at Pitt Law.  PLISF’s mission, in part, is to create interest in and raise money for the support of practice in public interest law. 

Each year, Pitt Law's Center for International Legal Education (CILE) helps arrange and support numerous internships abroad with governmental agencies, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations focused on human rights, environmental, trade, and other areas of law.

The School’s clinical education programs include: the Civil Practice Clinic (with a focus on either Health Law or Elder Law), Community Economic Development Clinic, Environmental Law Clinic, Family Law Clinic, and Low Income Taxpayer Clinic. These clinical programs provide students with opportunities to engage in public service through the representation of low-income clients. Through Pitt Law's externship programs, students are afforded the opportunities to earn academic credit while working for public interest organizations, government agencies and federal, state and county judges across the United States and abroad.
Students also gain hands-on public interest experience through the many practicum courses offered at the law school. Each year, Pitt Law hosts a public interest recognition reception to honor the many students who have given their time and energy to serving the underrepresented. At this event, a third year student who has demonstrated a commitment to public interest law throughout their law school career is awarded the Distinguished Public Interest Scholar Award.
Lastly, JURIST (, the Webby-award winning legal news and research website hosted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and powered by some 40 Pitt Law students, serves the public interest daily by documenting a wide range of national and international developments as they happen in real time. JURIST is the only university-based service providing documented legal news to the public on demand, empowering people by helping them understand serious changes in the legal world. JURIST weekly readership includes over 100,000 people worldwide.

University of South Carolina School of Law

For over 21 years the University of South Carolina School of Law has offered a full range of public service opportunities to its students through the highly regarded Pro Bono Program. The students have responded with enthusiasm and as alumni they have demonstrated a life long commitment to pro bono service.  Started in 1989 the Pro Bono Program is the first voluntary program in a US Law School. The mission is to place 100% of the law students who want to volunteer in a meaningful and well-supervised location that meets the personal and professional goals of that student.
The real measurement of success is not the number of students who volunteer or the hours they put toward a project but what difference their actions made in our community, Performance measurements are personal and difficult to measure but anecdotally students tell of life changing events resulting from their experiences. Every volunteer has a story; and every story is personal. It is not about the hours, it is all about the job that needs to be done.

Last year to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Pro Bono Program, members of the Pro Bono Board helped institutionalize the SC Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.  SCVLA is a project of the USC School of Law Pro Bono Program, the USC School of Law Nonprofit Organizations Clinic, the SC Arts Commission and the SC Bar Pro Bono Program. It refers those needing legal assistance to lawyers who have agreed to donate their time..  Another first, as this is the only volunteer lawyers for the arts program managed by a law school and linked to two statewide organizations. 

This year the Pro Bono Program launched another new statewide program, the Carolina Clerks: Pro Bono Clerks for Pro Bono Lawyers..  The idea is simple. If you are an attorney in SC and agree to represent a client on a pro bono basis; and you would like a law clerk to assist you with research and drafting then the University of the South Carolina School of Law will match you with a law student willing to help.  As the Carolina Clerks launched Dean Robert M. Wilcox, noted ““When members of the public cannot afford the legal services they need, lawyers often step forward and offer their time for free, Carolina Clerks not only helps those lawyers help their clients, but it instills in our students an understanding of the importance of including voluntary service as a part of their professional lives.”

The myriad array of volunteer opportunities is long, every changing and evolves with each semester but one can always count on the willingness of South Carolina law students to step up when asked.  They simply respond with a ‘yes”

For additional information contact:

Pamela D Robinson, Director, Pro Bono Program
USC School of Law
701 S Main Street
Columbia, SC 29205

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

University of Southern California Gould School of Law  asks “Can one law student make a difference?” The USC Law community says, unequivocally, "Yes." Whether you're assisting a family in adopting a child, or a veteran with medical and housing benefits, you can make a difference through countless volunteer opportunities, internships, in-house legal clinics, and grant programs.  We believe a service ethic is an essential component of a complete legal education and aim to provide each student with an individualized, creative space where that student's perspective on what service to others means can be deepened, broadened, and explored.

USC Law's student-run Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) offers myriad volunteer opportunities in partnership with Los Angeles' leading public interest organizations. PILF also provides more than 25 summer grants that enable students to work for a variety of public-interest agencies each summer—gaining practical legal experience while providing desperately needed legal aid to the poor and underrepresented.  

USC Law's Office of Public Service (OPS) supports all student-driven service projects. The OPS also coordinates public-service externships. Approximately 100 students annually earn academic credit and develop their advocacy skills while working for public interest organizations, government agencies, and judges. Visit for more information.

Beginning March 2012 student leaders will be invited to participate in a Justice Bus® Service Learning Trip to rural California.  Learn more at  

USC Law's Clinical Program offers students an opportunity to participate during the academic year or work full time over the summer for one of several in-house clinics, including: Children's Legal Issues Clinic, Employer Legal Advice Clinic, Immigration Clinic, Intellectual Property and Technology, International Human Rights, Post-Conviction Justice Project, Small Business Clinic, and Mediation Clinic.  Visit for more information.

There are many ways to get involved in public interest projects while studying at USC Law. For example, Legal Aid Alternative Breaks (LAAB) sponsors spring break trips to hurricane-ravaged areas of the Gulf Coast, where students provide crucial legal services to residents working to rebuild their lives. Other student-led service projects include La Raza's Teen Court, a diversion program for first-time juvenile offenders in lieu of formal juvenile court proceedings, and Street Law a nationally recognized educational outreach program that teaches legal literacy to local middle and high school students.

USC encourages students to pursue careers in public interest, pro bono opportunities, and other public service beyond law school by providing:

  • PILF's Irmas Fellowship:
    An annual fellowship for a one-year, post-graduate position with the nonprofit agency of the fellow's choice
  • Clinton-Orfalea Fellowship:
    A one-year, post-graduate opportunity to work on one of the foundation's domestic or international initiatives
  • Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP):
    Funds which help repay student loans for graduates working in public service
  • PILF's Outstanding Public Interest Graduate Award:
    Honors alumni commitment to public-interest careers

The University of Tennessee College of Law

The University of Tennessee College of Law’s  UT Pro Bono is a student run community service organization at the University of Tennessee College of Law. The program strives to connect law students allowing them to represent and assist indigent clients in ways they wouldn’t be able to until later in their law school career. Working in cooperation with area attorneys and local legal aid societies and non-profits, UT Pro Bono serves as a resource by providing law students for research, educational, and investigatory assistance. Current projects include Saturday Bar, Homeless Project, New School Project, ENLACE, Vols for Vets, Animal Law, Immigration Assistance Project, VITA and the Voter Rights Restoration Project, with several oter new projects debuting this year.

In the past year, the UT Pro Bono has seen the largest changes in recent memory. In a program that used to consist of multiple projects working separately for the greater good, students have become united to expand current projects, foster new ones, and create and fund an Alternative Spring Break project that will be open to not only UT students, but students from all over the country. While pro bono work has always been competitive to garner a spot in the larger projects, this year we have seen the entire student body lap at chances to do pro bono work. New fledging projects are seeing huge numbers of student applications for their projects. All of the projects are working constantly to create more projects to fill the great demand from the student body. Also the school is reporting record numbers for student participation and overall pro bono hours.

This year over $5,300 have been raised for Alternative Spring Break projects. The UT Pro Bono Carnival took place October 5 from 11:30-1 on the UT Law Patio. It featured  a Silent Auction with over $5,500 of donated goods from local businesses; Pie the Professor, where a lucky bidder bought the opportunity to throw a pie to the face of their “favorite” professor; fortune teller Madame Ma’at played by Dean Katrice Morgan; fun food; and events like Sweet CeCe’s Benefit Night and Turkey Creek Brixx Buxx that keep the big top alive throughout the whole weekend. Future fundraising events include immunity days in large law school classes during National Pro Bono week and the annual Law Women Date Auction in February.

Last year, University of Tennessee College of Law held its first ever Alternative Spring Break. 20 students participated in many different programs including working with Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Legal Aid of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, and Mobile Meals.  These students provided over 150 hours of service during UT’s inaugural Alternative Spring Break.  Through the efforts of these UT students Legal Aid was able to assist more families than otherwise would have received services, cases were resolved, and people were fed. 

The University of Toledo College of Law

The University of Toledo College of Law has a rich history of promoting public service. The school provides students with a wide array of public interest practical, curricular, and extra-curricular public service programs and opportunities.

In addition to our traditional public service related coursework, law students receive hands-on experience through the Public Service Externship Program, the College of Law Legal Clinic, the Domestic Violence & Juvenile Law Clinic, the Criminal Practice Program, and the Dispute Resolution Clinic.  The College of Law also coordinates with a variety of regional legal service organizations, courts, and government agencies to provide public service volunteer opportunities to students.  This important pro bono and public interest work is recognized through our Public Service Commendation Program.  All students who achieve 30 hours of pro bono work per semester are granted a Commendation.  Since the start of the program in 2007, more than 150 students have donated over 15,000 hours of service.

To further instill a public service ethic in our students, the University of Toledo College of Law will host a number of events and programs this school year.  We will invite practicing attorneys to speak during special programs on topics such as the importance of pro bono work for private attorneys, careers in federal criminal prosecution and defense, and public interest career paths.  These programs will help to connect students with the public interest community and inform them about rewarding careers in public service.  Additionally, we will host a Government and Public Interest Networking event which will provide students with the opportunity to interact with attorneys from public interest organizations and government agencies.  Students will also have several opportunities for public service through our participation in the National Pro Bono Celebration.  As part of the Celebration, students may volunteer for the Toledo Bar Association Pro Bono Legal Services Program’s new Divorce Clinic or the Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Clinic, as well as the 1Matters Tent City Program to assist unhoused individuals with securing important identification documents. 

Participation in our various curricular opportunities and public service projects allows students to gain practical skills while helping them understand the needs of the greater community.  For more information on the University of Toledo College of Law and our programs, please go to:

The University of Tulsa College of Law

As dean of The University of Tulsa College of Law, I am proud of our efforts to instill a lifelong commitment to public service within our students. Those efforts begin prior to our students stepping foot in their first law classroom and continue throughout their time at TU.

It begins with Foundations of Legal Study, an orientation week for 1Ls that includes Public Service Day, during which our students dedicate a day to serving the underserved. Another way we are instilling a commitment to public service in our students is by introducing the duty of attorneys to serve the public in the Dean’s Seminar on the Legal Profession for all 1L students.  In this Seminar discussion, we provide students an early foundation for a commitment to public service which we hope they will carry with them throughout their professional careers. We explain to our students that a license to practice law is a privilege and with that privilege comes responsibility. Almost every licensing jurisdiction expects that attorneys will dedicate time to representing those who cannot afford legal representation. 

An important area of discussion is the impact that lawyers can have in all public interest realms.  Government social programs designed to help those in need are in fact laws and regulations promulgated by legislation or administrative agencies. When these laws and regulations are not followed, public interest attorneys provide a voice for those who are not capable of representing themselves in a complex legal and political system.

Our entering students are also encouraged to consider the “pros” of accepting a public interest job upon graduation. Young attorneys can have an immediate impact on underserved populations and, in turn, can gain extraordinary experience if they accept public interest placement out of law school. The needs are so great that young attorneys will immediately begin serving clients and representing them. By dedicating one’s career to public interest work, a young attorney will avail themselves of a vast network of talented mentor attorneys. A career dedicated to public interest also affords a greater transferability of skills to other practice areas. Public interest attorneys are connected by their willingness to represent underserved populations and not necessarily an area of practice. At a moment when law students are worried about post-graduation job prospects, we must recognize that great demand for legal services persists among many underserved populations. Law careers are long trajectories - lawyers can leverage tremendous experience gained from public interest work at various inflection points in their career. 

In addition to our discussions with students, we continue to add to our public service activities. New opportunities offered this academic year include Domestic Violence Intervention Services Training, Joplin Tornado Relief in honor of National Pro Bono Week, Courthouse Assistance Program with Legal Aid, and Family Relations Mediation Training. Creating a nation of lawyers imbued with the public service ethic begins in law school, and TU will continue to take that responsibility seriously.

- Janet Levit, Dean & Dean John Rogers Endowed Chair, The University of Tulsa College of Law

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law offers national and global service programs designed to provide graduates with experience, training, and skill sets required to prepare them for a variety of service opportunities in local, national, and global venues.

The College of Law’s commitment to public service is long-standing, broad and deep. Through interdisciplinary, community, and internal law school collaborations, we are developing new learning opportunities for our students and cutting-edge service delivery systems. The overall themes of our efforts include enhancing access to justice in the state and beyond, teaching central professional skills in a wide range of practice areas, instilling a sense of professionalism and service in our students, cultivating demonstrable decision-making and leadership capacities, and actively advising in the development of legal systems at local, national, and global levels.

The College expresses this commitment to public service at every level. Two-thirds of the faculty, including our dean, performed pro bono and public service this year. Similarly, the vast majority of our students perform valuable public service legal work through our Clinical Program, our think tanks, or our Pro Bono Initiative.  The Clinical Program offered 275 placements, the Pro Bono Initiative facilitated more than 350 placements, and the think tanks advised several national and international governmental and non-governmental organizations.  For a total student body of 400 students, the College of Law provided more than 45,000 hours of formal public service.

This year, we are launching a low bono service and training initiative called Law for America. Through this initiative we will develop a sustainable economic model for combining new forms of clinical and professional training with direct service to under-served members of the lower and middle classes as well as small businesses and nonprofits. New graduates and a senior lawyer will initiate this project, with student involvement to be considered thereafter. Additionally, we offer a variety of public service clinical experiences. Each clinic relies on placing the student with a supervising attorney to work on real cases. Each has a related classroom component to study the fundamental lawyering skills, to share observations from the clinical experience, and to generalize what could be learned from the particular experience. In the Civil Clinic, students interview, counsel and solve problems for indigent clients of legal services offices. The Criminal Clinic supports students’ work with state and federal public defenders on misdemeanor and felony cases. The Innocence Clinic introduces students to the criminal justice system from the perspective of a wrongfully convicted individual. The newest clinical venture is the Public Policy Practicum in which students work directly with a faculty member to study and propose solutions to a local issue.

Our Pro Bono Initiative operates by matching law students with attorneys doing pro bono work. The purpose of our legal clinics is to provide brief one-on-one instruction and assistance to low-income Utahns who are unable to afford legal representation. Pro Bono Initiative volunteer law students and volunteer on-site supervising attorneys staff all of our legal clinics.

University of Washington School of Law

I heard a speech at the beginning of the University of Washington School of Law school year that lawyers should use their powers to do good, and that’s exactly what I intend to do after graduating from law school. I went into law school to change lives. Ten to fifteen years from now, I see myself as the director of a non-profit organization, helping low-income women and children to overcome social and economic barriers and achieve their dreams. Only then will I be living my own dream… Working directly with a client on an important pro bono matter helped me to rediscover the reason that I went to law school, and the most rewarding part of the experience was seeing the excitement and appreciation on my client’s face when I worked with her to help her achieve her dreams.

-Camille Zhou, Second Year Law Student, University of Washington School of Law

UW Law Commitment to Pro Bono & Public Service
Public service is a long standing tradition and core value of the University of Washington School of Law. A key pillar of UW Law’s mission to be Leaders for the Global Common Good is the commitment to Generous Public Service. Most of our students go above and beyond our 60 hour public service graduation requirement fulfilled through externships or clinical courses. UW Law students actively engage in a wide range of pro bono by providing direct legal assistance to low-income communities through several student-led pro bono projects such as the Immigrant Families Advocacy Project, Street Youth Law Advocates, Innocence Project, and Incarcerated Mothers Advocacy Project. 

UW law students also provide pro bono legal assistance through a variety of civil legal aid providers, human rights organizations and public defender programs in our region. Every October, our Pro Bono Honors Program hosts a Pro Bono Fair where dozens of local legal organizations and student-led pro bono projects showcase their work and recruit new law student volunteers. In addition, through one-on-one advising, the staff at the Center for Public Service Law help students access opportunities that match their skills, interests and passions. 

Unique Service Opportunities through the Washington State Moderate Means Program
A joint venture between the Washington State Bar Association and the three law schools in Washington, the Moderate Means Program helps bridge the access to justice gap for families who cannot afford full-fee legal assistance. Law students help clients of moderate means obtain legal services from private attorneys at reduced fees.  By interviewing clients and matching them with local private attorneys, students gain important client interviewing skills as well as expertise in several areas of civil law, including family, consumer and housing law. 

The Moderate Means Program is alone among moderate means programs across the country to use students exclusively for the performance of intake interviews and referrals.  No other program of this type provides students with as rich and rewarding an experience as the Washington State Moderate Means Program. 

For more information please visit

University of Wisconsin Law School

A momentous achievement took place for the University of Wisconsin Law School’s  Pro Bono Program in early September of this year.  With unanimous approval from the law school faculty, the Pro Bono Program has instituted a Pro Bono Society for students to receive institutional recognition of their pro bono service during law school.  Students completing 50 hours of pro bono legal services during their law school tenure will be inducted into the Pro Bono Society at the time of graduation. 

The creation of the Pro Bono Society is not only a major institutional change, but also serves to build student enthusiasm about participating in the Pro Bono Program.  This fall, the Program has already seen a significant increase in the number of interested students seeking to dedicate their time to the community through pro bono service.

The University of Wisconsin Law School's Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) is a student run organization committed to providing law students who want to pursue careers in public interest law with academic, career services, and financial support.  To that end, UW-PILF coordinates informational sessions on debt management and summer jobs, a speaker series on a variety of issues in public interest law, and a grant program for students working over the summer with traditionally underrepresented members of society.

In addition to the Pro Bono Program and PILF, the University of Wisconsin Law School has a counselor within its Career Services Office who devotes time to counseling students interested in public service as well as conducts programming and outreach, coordinates job fairs and fellowships, and manages the grant program for summer public interest work.

This year, the Career Services Office has been working hard to expand opportunities for students interested in public service as well as explore new funding sources for summer internships, including a fundraiser spearheaded by the State Bar Pro Bono Program.  For more information on our services, please go to

In addition, to meet the expanding interest in performing pro bono work, the Pro Bono Program staff has sought out multiple new projects for student volunteers.  It has developed partnerships with area attorneys at private firms and has worked with non-profit legal service agencies to establish pro bono projects for students.  It has further collaborated with student groups on campus to support existing student volunteer projects.  As a result of collaboration with the Pro Bono Program, these students will be able to have their service recognized through induction into the Pro Bono Society.  All of these initiatives will not only benefit the students involved, but will make a meaningful impact in combatting the justice gap in our local community and throughout the United States. For more information about the Pro Bono Program, visit

University of Wyoming College of Law

The Wyoming Law Students for Equal Justice organization at the University of Wyoming College of Law provides a forum for law students interested in public interest and pro bono service. The organization's goals are to increase awareness of public interest law by providing a forum for discussion of public interest issues, as well as an opportunity for law students to do pro bono public interest work. WLSEJ encourages participation in public interest work by organizing events and opportunities for student participation such as guest speakers, community volunteering, and further research into the resources necessary to expand supervised clinical work to meet unmet legal needs of Wyoming citizens.

Every October, in celebration of Pro Bono month, we host a community pro bono night by contacting local attorneys to volunteer their time to the citizens of Laramie, who need legal assistance but are unable to afford an attorney. This year, we are trying to host the event not at our law school, but at a community building, such as a public school, in an attempt to create a more welcoming and less authoritative environment. 

Wake Forest University School of Law

The Wake Forest University School of Law supports public service in each of its students in myriad ways, including through the Pro Bono Project launched two years ago. Since that time, the program has provided a pathway for law students to serve the public and to create bold new pro bono initiatives. Last year, students delivered a wide range of pro bono services. For instance, students assisted the District Attorney's office in reviewing homicide cases for aggravating or mitigating factors, represented the interests of foster care children, and provided legal information to the Lumbee Indians in Pembroke, North Carolina. The Guardian Ad Litem program attracted scores of students, and an environmental law student group began plans to protect the Yadkin River Basin located near Winston-Salem, NC. The projects mentioned above are not exhaustive but highlight the commitment of our students.

New public service opportunities available this year include the Pro Bono Project training for students to help parents whose children must appear at  school disciplinary hearings, and incidentally, our county has a remarkable high percentage of African American male students who have been suspended from school. The Pro Bono Project has about thirty students engaged in a national project called Reclaiming Futures.  In Winston-Salem this project pairs law students with teenagers who have been in trouble due to involvement with drugs, alcohol, and crime. We seek to eradicate the school to prison pipeline.

Our next new project is spearheading a collaboration with other North Carolina law schools to provide pro bono services to military families in partnership with the Army OneSource initiative, and our student veterans group is working with the Veterans Administration to serve homeless vets. Last, we are training law students to be mediators as part of a project with the city of Winston-Salem's Human Relations department, and we have Hispanic law students assisting the legal aid office here with clients of Hispanic heritage. We will continue to develop our program. I have the privilege of working with a talented and compassionate group of law students.

Beth Hopkins
Professor of Practice
History Department
Director of Outreach
Wake Forest University School of Law

Washburn University School of Law

From the moment students embark on their law studies at Washburn University School of Law, they are encouraged to participate in pro bono initiatives supported by the law school.

First Week activities for new students include an introduction to Washburn Law’s Pro Bono Program (, which encourages students to understand and embrace their future professional obligation to provide legal services to individuals of limited means. The program promotes the importance of law-related public service through:

  • Pro Bono Honors Pledge and Recognition Program
  • Support of Equal Justice Works student organization
  • Recognition and support of pro bono activities by the Washburn Law Clinic, Certificate of Concentration Program and speaker series

The centerpiece of the Pro Bono Program is the Pro Bono Honors Pledge and Recognition. Students are encouraged to participate in this program that rewards pro bono work with distinction upon graduation. Students completing at least 50 hours of pro bono service are recognized in the Washburn Law graduation bulletin. They may include on their resumes they received “Pro Bono Honors.” Students completing 100 hours of pro bono service may promote they received “Distinguished Pro Bono Honors.” These designations are also included on the students’ transcripts.

Students can access information about pro bono opportunities through the Professional Development Office and regularly assist a variety of organizations, including Kansas Legal Services, Kansas Board of Indigent Defense, CASA, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, Shawnee County Youth Court, Johnson County Youth Court, Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, and the Kansas Bar Association Access to Justice Committee. Several students also provide pro bono translating services in our law clinic and for area district courts. To encourage additional engagement by students in pro bono activities, they may choose to identify and propose projects with which they have a personal interest, as long as they meet pro bono guidelines.

The Equal Justice Works student organization is a motivated group of students who raise money for annual trips to help where they are needed. The group has assisted with legal issues in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and in January 2011, students worked on legal issues affecting the homeless in Washington D.C., documented in the law school’s alumni magazine (see 

About 40 percent of Washburn Law students participate in the Washburn Law Clinic. While Clinic interns learn to become effective lawyers, they also provide free legal services to members of the community who cannot afford legal services. The Clinic annually presents awards ( to students who exemplify the ideals of the profession and spirit of public service.

In addition, several of Washburn Law’s Certificates of Concentration require a community service or a pro bono component, and our Lunch and Learn speaker series regularly headlines professionals who encourage students to embrace a similar career path.

Willamette University College of Law

We at Willamette University College of Law are proud of our history of public service. Located in Oregon’s capital, Salem, our students and graduates can be found at all levels of government, from the governor’s office to the local public defender, from the Oregon Supreme Court to city attorney offices, and everywhere in between. Our certificate programs in Law and Government and in Sustainability Law give students a deep understanding of government policy making and how laws and policy can be used to protect our natural resources.

We also have an active public interest student group, WUPILP, which raises student awareness of the opportunities and satisfaction to be found in public service careers. This group brings public interest lawyers to campus to talk with students about their career paths. WUPILP also raises money to fund summer public service stipends, allowing students to work in public service positions that would otherwise be unavailable.

Our Pro Bono Honors program gives students opportunities to work in the community, either in a legal capacity or as a general volunteer. Our students have volunteered at legal aid offices, providing direct legal services to indigent individuals. They have volunteered for non-profit advocacy groups, such as domestic violence shelters, using their research and writing skills to help form policies and advocacy goals. They have volunteered to act as mediators in local courts, mediating small claims disputes where the parties are not able to afford a lawyer. And they do much more. This academic year, we are starting a new pro bono project, assisting formerly incarcerated individuals who are transitioning back into the community. Many of these individuals experience legal issues which become insurmountable barriers to turning their lives around. Our students will help them navigate through the legal process.

We offer students six different legal clinics and a wide variety of public service externship opportunities where they can gain academic credit while serving those in need. One example is our international human rights clinic in which students have represented refugees seeking asylum within the U.S., have worked on human trafficking issues, and have filed cases under the Alien Tort Statute.

Every September, we encourage students to attend the Campaign for Equal Justice luncheon so they can learn more about civil legal services issues and the special responsibility lawyers have to ensure that all people have access to justice. Our students are inspired by the hundreds of local lawyers who come together to support legal aid. During spring semester, representatives from the Campaign come on campus to talk with students about the need and how students can help.

We are part of the Northwest Consortium of Law Schools which organizes the Northwest Public Service Career Fair in February. Public interest and government employers from all over the country attend, giving our students the opportunity to explore public interest opportunities that they otherwise may not have considered.

As we increase our public service offerings, we strive to live up to the Willamette motto, not unto ourselves alone are we born.

William & Mary

American legal education began at William & Mary in 1779 with an extraordinary vision, first articulated by Thomas Jefferson and George Wythe. Jefferson believed that aspiring members of the profession should be trained to be citizen lawyers — committed legal advocates and honorable human beings who were not only excellent at their legal craft but also good citizens and leaders of their communities, states, and nations. It was fitting that Wythe became the first professor of law in America at William & Mary. A signer of the Declaration of Independence and an early abolitionist, Wythe epitomized the lawyer as civic leader and passionate advocate for equality and justice. John Marshall, the nation’s fourth chief justice, studied at William & Mary. So have many public servants, human rights activists, community leaders, and defenders of the wrongfully accused.

In the citizen-lawyer tradition, pro bono service takes many forms at William & Mary.  Recent initiatives include Spring Break Service Trips, Street Law, Student Legal Services, Students for the Innocence Project, Williamsburg Community Legal Clinics, and Wills for Seniors.  Additional information is available at

The range and breadth of our students’ nonlegal community service is as diverse as our students themselves.  They volunteer on campus, in greater Williamsburg, in their home communities, and throughout the United States and the world.  Indicative of students’ volunteerism is their participation in the Law School's Community Service Program, through which students pledge at least 35 hours of community service.  Students who satisfy their pledges are recognized at the graduation awards ceremony and receive a certificate.

Students earn academic credit through six clinics: Domestic Violence Clinic, Federal Tax Practice Clinic, Innocence Project Clinic, Legal Aid Clinic, Special Education Advocacy Clinic, and Veterans Benefits Clinic.  Clinic descriptions are available at  Students also earn credit through externships with public defenders; civil legal services and legal aid organizations; law-related private nonprofit organizations; prosecutors; U.S. Attorneys; government agencies; judges, courts, and organizations that provide research, educational, and management services to judges and courts; and the Virginia legislature.

During Summer 2011, 111 students received public service fellowships to assist 92 organizations throughout the United States and in Argentina, Cambodia, China, Ecuador, England, Morocco, Sweden, and Switzerland: William & Mary graduates in public service employment also benefit from our loan repayment assistance program.

Our professors personify the citizen-lawyer philosophy.  They advocate for human rights, support the indigent, are key players in post-conflict justice and nation building, and serve the profession and their communities with dedication and expertise.

A William & Mary law degree is more than a path to a successful career. It is an opportunity for students and graduates to use their talents and training to provide access to justice for the indigent, the marginalized, and the unrepresented; to safeguard the public; and to be distinguished public servants and citizen-lawyers in the Jeffersonian tradition.

William Mitchell College of Law

William Mitchell College of Law is a law school for the real world -- that means an ethic of service to clients and community and putting practical skills to work in infused through the school!  Graduates, faculty, staff and students are local champions of change.

The Public Service Program at William Mitchell operates in cooperation with the Minnesota Justice Foundation.  MJF strives for justice by increasing the capacity of legal services and public interest agencies by leveraging law student volunteers.  Through clinics, externships and MJF, William Mitchell students have the opportunity to work with lawyers in a variety of legal advice settings or to complete research projects to advance advocacy on poverty law issues or to assist attorneys who have taken clients and cases on a pro bono basis. 

Although Mitchell students are not required to do pro bono work, most students do!  About 50% of last year’s graduating class completed at least 50 hours of law-related public service during their time in law school.  Service to the community is a closely held value of the school, and embodied in and modeled by Mitchell’s faculty and staff, earning the school the distinction of 12th ranked among the nation's best public interest law schools by The National Jurist magazine (November 2008). 

This fall, a Public Interest Learning Community was launched on campus.  The goal of the community is “to empower a community of law students to enhance their understanding of how to advance the public good by encouraging passion, accountability, and reflection.”  Four student directors recruited a 1L co-hort that meets once a week, with a substantive legal discussion lead by a legal services practitioner or faculty/staff member every other week.  The discussions dive into the intersections on doctrinal course materials and public-interest implications. 

Mitchell students who volunteer their time at the Self-Help Clinic, public defender’s offices, legal aid community sites, and on private attorney pro bono cases are creating change, one hour at a time.

--Rinal Ray, Staff Attorney, Minnesota Justice Foundation, William Mitchell College of Law

Yale Law School

At Yale Law School students are at the center of a vibrant, active and activist community. Whether attending classes, organizing a slate of engaging conferences and events, or volunteering to work for the public interest, Yale Law students bring their idealism and passion into every aspect of their lives.

There is no single way in which each student is expected to define public interest and public service.  The strength and vibrancy of the law school results from our commitment to encouraging each student to define and pursue the nature of her or his participation. YLS provides many opportunities for students to explore and participate in myriad public-interest activities. Opportunities for discovery abound.  More than 80% of students participate in one of our 20 clinics—working on issues affecting veterans, immigrants, small businesses, youth, and the environment (just to name a few).  Our clinical programs not only offer training in a real-world context, but are structured to allow students to work on issues that are both important and timely.

YLS also strongly supports energy and vision to work for the public good beyond our clinical offerings. The majority of students participate in public interest activities each academic year, not just through clinics but also through voluntary student groups and an array of public interest-related courses.  We have journals that focus on intellectual, policy, and pragmatic issues of import. In addition, student-run organizations put on conferences and symposia, workshops and panels.  Examples this year include a conference on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) revisiting that landmark legislation 10-years after its enactment, and the Rebellious Lawyering Conference, an annual event that brings together progressive academics, activists and students from around the country.  More than a dozen Centers at the law school also provide opportunities to work on diverse issues with those on the front lines and experts in the field:  human rights activists, scholars working on law and policy reform in China and elsewhere, advocates working on problems of inequality and on access to justice for those without resources, and scholars and public-interest entrepreneurs seeking to bridge the information technology divide.  
Beyond the academic year, the YLS community's commitment to public interest continues; about three-quarters of our students take jobs in the public interest in the summer after their first year, many of which are funded by our generous Summer Public Interest Fellowships. After graduation, YLS provides financial support for public interest work in the form of our bold and unmatched loan-forgiveness program.  In addition, we award public interest fellowships, which are specialized post-graduate grants for work in government or domestic and international non-profits. In 2011, more than 30 alumni and recent-graduates obtained fellowships, from the law school or elsewhere, to work in the public interest.  These fellowships have proven to be a way to provide our graduates with incomparable professional experience, leading to long and important careers in public interest work. The loan-forgiveness program has likewise proved to be of enduring significance. Five years after graduating, about 25 percent of each YLS class is working in public service.

Updated May 15, 2017