​Pro Bono Opportunities

Pro bono work is legal work provided without compensation and is part of a lawyer's professional responsibility. The University of San Diego School of Law has a strong tradition of students who have volunteered their time in the San Diego community. Engaging in pro bono work while in law school encourages students to be lifelong volunteers and helps students recognize that pro bono work is an integral part of a balanced lifestyle. In addition, pro bono work helps students develop legal skills and obtain practical, legal experience.

USD's Pro Bono Service Recognition exposes students to the professional and ethical obligation to perform public service work, and recognizes students for their pro bono contributions. Students who complete a minimum of 100 hours of pro bono legal service while in law school will receive a white cord to wear at commencement, a listing in the annual honors brochure, and a certificate.

Many of our law student volunteer opportunities are arranged by the Office of Career and Professional Development and through our varied student organizations. The Pro Bono Legal Advocates and Advocates for Children and Education are just two of the student groups who routinely organize volunteer opportunities.

Pro Bono Service Recognition—Policy and Process

Purpose

To encourage participation in and commitment to an attorney's professional responsibility for pro bono legal service from the beginning of each law student's career.

Practice

To recognize those University of San Diego School of Law students who complete a minimum of 100 hours of pro bono legal service during their law school career.

These students receive our gratitude and thanks for their service to the community, a listing in the annual honors brochure, a certificate denoting their achievement, and the right to wear a white cord signifying this accomplishment at commencement.

Parameters

To qualify as pro bono service, a student must do one or more of the following:

  1. Work in a legal position providing legal services to those unable to pay for them. To qualify under this section, the student must work:
    • In a legal position (as a legal intern, clerk or legal clinic personnel) under the supervision of a practicing attorney;
    • Without receiving any kind of compensation (including a community service grant) or academic credit for the work. If receiving academic credit, hours in excess of those required to receive academic credit may be counted as pro bono service. For example, extra hours worked in the USD Legal Clinics above those necessary for academic credit can count as pro bono service. No paid positions qualify as pro bono service.
  2. Work in a legal position seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties or public rights, or for a charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental or educational organization on matters in furtherance of their organizational purposes. To qualify under this section, the student must work:
    • In a legal position (as a legal intern, clerk or legal clinic personnel) under the supervision of a practicing attorney;
    • Without receiving compensation (including a community service grant) or academic credit for the work. If receiving academic credit, hours in excess of those required to receive academic credit may be counted as pro bono service. For example, extra hours worked in an Agency Externship above those necessary for academic credit can count as pro bono service. No paid positions qualify as pro bono service.
  3. Work in one of the legal clinics organized and administered by the student organization Pro Bono Legal Advocates (PBLA). To qualify under this section, the student must:
    • Make at least a semester long commitment to the clinic; and
    • Fulfill his or her obligation by working the hours/schedule committed to, unless a change to the schedule is requested and approved by the clinic chair due to unforeseen circumstance, such as illness or family emergency; or
    • Work as a PBLA clinic chair coordinating and supporting a PBLA clinic.

Procedure

To get recognition for pro bono service, students must find a project or opportunity that meets the requirements of sections A-C above.

Hours Documentation Process

Sections A and B

  1. Fill out the Supervising Attorney Verification Form and obtain your supervising attorney's approval and signature; and
  2. Fill out and submit the Pro Bono Service Hours Documentation Form. Please note, you must select “Pro Bono” as Experiential Learning type and you will be prompted to attach a JPEG or PDF version of the completed Supervising Attorney Verification Form.

In order to document hours to be applied toward their Pro Bono Service Recognition, students must submit the above information at the end of each semester (Fall, Spring and Summer).

Section C

If the work falls under Section C above, the PBLA clinic chair will record each student's volunteer hours during the semester. The total hours will be made available to volunteers at the end of the semester for students to confirm that the figures are correct. Clinic chairs will be responsible for submitting these hours to the Office of Career and Professional Development at the end of each semester.

Please contact chair.pbla@gmail.com with any questions regarding your clinic hours.


If your pro bono service does not fall under Section A, B or C, and you would like to know if your hours can be applied toward your pro bono recognition, please contact,

OFFICE OF CAREER AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
lawcareers@sandiego.edu