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UVA School of Law Mortimer Caplin Public Service Center Pro Bono Program. An Ethic of Service. An ethic of service is part of your professional responsibility as you begin the journey towards becoming members of the bar and the legal profession .

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UVA School of LawMortimer Caplin Public Service CenterPro Bono Program


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An Ethic of Service

An ethic of service is part of your professional responsibility as you begin the journey towards becoming members of the bar and the legal profession.

  • In 2005 the ABA amended their standards for Approval of Law Schools to provide that “a law school shall offer substantial opportunities for… student participation in pro bono activities.”

    • Over 30 law schools now have mandatory pro bono requirements for graduation.

    • Approximately 100 have an administratively supported formal voluntary program.

    • ABA Rules of Professional Conduct 6.1 – A lawyer should aspire to render at least (50) hours of pro bono public legal services per year.


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Why Do Pro Bono?

1.) Ensure access to justice by providing much needed legal services.

  • 80% of the civil legal needs of the poor and working poor are unmet.

  • This lack of representation threatens the successful functioning of our legal system.


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Why Do Pro Bono? (cont.)

2.) Allows you to gain valuable experience, enhance your legal skills, explore possible career paths and make networking contacts.

3.) Experience the personal satisfaction that comes from helping another in need.


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The Pro Bono Challenge (and how to become involved as a law student)

  • Challenges every law student to log at least 25 hours of pro bono annually for a total of 75 hours or more by graduation. This equates to one hour per week during the academic year.

  • Students meeting the challenge will be recognized by Certificates of Achievement; designation in the commencement brochure; and at an awards ceremony during graduation weekend. A graduating student(s) will also be honored with the annual pro bono award which recognizes an “extraordinary” commitment to pro bono.


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The Pro Bono Challenge (cont).

  • Completing and logging pro bono hours also allows you to be eligible to apply for a PILA Summer Internship Grant.

    • PILA requires all students interested in applying for a Summer Internship Grant to complete a specific number of pro bono hours:

      • 1Ls must complete at least 10 pro bono hours in order to be eligible.

      • 2Ls must complete at least 25 pro bono hours.

      • PILA will send out more information on this in the coming weeks.


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The Pro Bono Challenge (cont).

  • In 2007-2008 60 graduates were recognized for completing 75 or more hours of pro bono and 245 students logged over 11,590 hours of pro bono service.

  • During the 2007-2008 Winter Break, more than 100 students logged over 2,500 hours of pro bono service with prosecutors’ offices, public defenders, legal aid offices, and various other public service organizations throughout the country.


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What Qualifies?

  • In order to log hours for the Pro Bono Challenge, the work must be:

    • Law-related;

    • Not for academic credit or compensation (clinical work done in excess of academic requirements may count.);

    • Supervised by a licensed attorney or law school faculty member;

    • For a nonprofit organization or government office or agency, domestic or international, which serves the legal needs of individuals, groups or causes that are under-represented in the legal system; and

    • Undertaken during the academic year. Students can get pro bono credit for volunteer legal work done over the summer for an organization that otherwise fits the above criteria so long as the work is done outside of the student’s 35-hour required work week.


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How to Find a Pro Bono Project

There are three ways by which students may locate pro bono opportunities:

  • Pro Bono Program-Administered Projects:

    • Hunton & Williams Pro Bono Partnership – Students volunteer under the supervision of attorneys from the firm’s Richmond office to represent indigent clients in the areas of domestic violence, family law, immigration and asylum law.

    • Legal Outreach Project – Students volunteer weekly to do client intake for the Legal Aid Justice Center at area soup kitchens, homeless shelters and low-income housing projects.

    • Immigrant Jail Outreach Project – Students volunteer under the supervision of attorneys from the CAIR Coalition in Washington, D.C., to visit local jails with large populations of immigrant detainees and conduct “Know Your Rights” presentations.


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How to Find a Pro Bono Project (cont.)

  • Pro Bono No Fault Divorce Project – Students volunteer to assist with the filing of no-fault divorces for indigent clients under the supervision of attorneys from the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society (CVLAS)

  • Nonprofit Pro Bono Clinic – Students are supervised by a local attorney and provide assistance to local area nonprofits with incorporation, by laws, leases, deeds and other transactional matters.

  • Piedmont Court Appointed Special Advocates (PCASA) – Student volunteers are trained and supervised to serve as advocates for children involved in the abuse and neglect process.

  • Virginia Institutionalized Persons Project (VIPP) - Student volunteers will assist the VIPP staff attorney with investigating the conditions of Virginia’s prisons and mental institutions and, through political advocacy and legal action, increase accountability within the system to ensure that Virginia operates its institutions consistent with constitutional standards and human dignity.


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How to Find a Pro Bono Project (cont.)

  • Pro Bono Opportunities Initiated by Outside Attorneys or Law School Faculty:

    • Other pro bono opportunities that become available from outside attorneys or law school faculty will be publicized through e-mail alerts and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

  • Pro Bono Opportunities Initiated by Students:

    • Students may also develop their own pro bono projects, provided that they adhere to the Pro Bono Challenge requirements stated above. Projects that are not supervised by a licensed attorney or a law school faculty member will not qualify for purposes of the challenge. The staff of the Pro Bono Program will also provide assistance to students interested in creating pro bono opportunities for winter or spring break.


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How to Find a Pro Bono Project(cont).

  • Winter Break Projects:

    • November 14th – Deadline for submitting requests for winter break projects.

    • This is a great way to earn your PILA eligibility requirement and to try out potential employers and/or areas of legal practice!

    • More information will be available in October.


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  • If you have any questions, please feel free to send an e-mail to [email protected] or come by the Public Service Center (SL249).

    We look forward to working with you!


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