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 thanks, a listing in the annual honors brochure, a certificate, 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 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 class credit for the work. If receiving class credit, hours in excess of those required to receive class credit may be counted as pro bono service. For example, extra hours worked in the USD Legal Clinics above those necessary for class credit can count as pro bono service. No paid positions will be considered 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 and educational organization in matters in furtherance of their organizational purposes. To qualify under this section, the student must work:
    • In a legal position (as legal intern, clerk, or legal clinic personnel) under the supervision of a practicing attorney;
    • Without receiving compensation (including a community service grant) or class credit for the work. If receiving class credit, hours in excess of those required to receive class credit may be counted as pro bono service. For example, extra hours worked in an Agency Internship above those necessary for class credit can count as pro bono service. No paid positions will be considered 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;
    • 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. Note: A high volume of homework does not qualify as an unforeseen circumstance.
  4. Work in activities for improving the law, the legal system, or the legal profession. The following types of work qualify under this section:
    • Targeted efforts to promote an improvement in a specific law or area of law.
    • Creating or implementing a program to increase diversity in the legal profession or at the University of San Diego School of Law.
    • Work by a student organization to create opportunities for law students to become involved in serving the community. To be counted as pro bono hours, the service opportunity must be legal in nature rather than general community service. Student leaders should consult with PBLA to approve their community service projects on a case-by-case basis.
    • Work by PBLA clinic chairs coordinating and supporting their clinics.

Procedure

To get credit for pro bono service, students must:

Find a project or opportunity that meets the requirements of sections A-D above. If a student is unsure of whether a project will qualify under the policy, he or she should email the PBLA Chair at chair.pbla@gmail.com.

If the work falls under sections A or B above, at the end of each semester students must submit the following information directly to the Office for Law Student Affairs via email to lawstudentaffairs@sandiego.edu

  1. The name of the organization the student worked for and a brief description of the services provided, including information about how it meets the requirements listed above;
  2. The name, telephone number and/or email address for the supervising attorney;
  3. The number of hours worked that qualify as pro bono service; and
  4. If applicable, the portion of work for which the student received class credit.
  5. In addition, the supervising attorney must confirm the student's total hours in a brief email to lawstudentaffairs@sandiego.edu.

If the work falls under section C above, the PBLA clinic chair will record the students' 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 for Law Student Affairs at the end of each semester.

If the work falls under section D above, students must submit the following information to the PBLA Chair via email to chair.pbla@gmail.com:

  1. A brief description of the project, including information about how it meets the requirements of the section;
  2. The name, telephone number and/or email address of the person verifying the work. The individual verifying the work may be the SBA President for projects completed through SBA, a registered student organization president for projects organized by a student organization, or a professor or practicing attorney who participated or oversaw the work for any other project.
  3. After the student has received approval for the project from the PBLA Chair, at the end of each semester, the student must forward the approval email with a simple statement of total pro bono hours directly to the Office for Law Student Affairs at lawstudentaffairs@sandiego.edu.

Contact:

Law Student Affairs
Warren Hall, Room 218
Phone: (619) 260-4651
Fax: (619) 260-7715
Email Law Student Affairs

Hours

M,T,Th,F: 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
W: 9:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.