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American Bar Association

Law Schools

Revision to Law School Accreditation Standard on Pro Bono: in August, 2014 the Standard and Interpretation pertaining to law school pro bono programs was revised. This brief provides an update as to the new language.

Law school pro bono and public service is sweeping the nation. A majority of ABA accredited law schools now have formal pro bono or public service programs with several requiring students to perform varying amounts of pro bono work in order to graduate.

The ABA Center for Pro Bono offers a number of resources to assist law students, law school administrators, and faculty seeking information and support on pro bono and public service initiatives. Our resources include an on-line Directory of Law School Public Interest and Pro Bono Programs, personal consulting for creating or expanding a law school pro bono program, and a clearinghouse of pro bono related materials.

For a comprehensive resource on ways to participate in and develop law school pro bono opportunities, download Everything You Wanted to Know About Law School Pro Bono But Were Afraid to Ask. This resource also covers the relevant accreditation standards, the history of law school pro bono programs, and the keys to a successful law school pro bono program.

Developing a Law School Pro Bono Program

ABA Center for Pro Bono Clearinghouse Library
A comprehensive collection of documents on a wide range of pro bono topics such as law student recruitment, sample law school pro bono program management materials and project descriptions.

ABA Center for Pro Bono Consulting Project
The Center provides telephone and on-site consulting regarding the development and operation of pro bono programs for a number of organizations, including law schools.

Archive of Workshop Documents and Materials for Past Equal Justice Conference Law School Pro Bono Advisor Preconference Programs

ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference
This annual Conference brings together all components of the legal community to discuss equal justice issues and attend workshops, trainings, and networking sessions presenting the latest trends in the delivery of pro bono legal services, including a half-day preconference program for law school pro bono representatives.

Building and Sustaining a Successful Law School Pro Bono Program
This article provides law schools with the tools needed to develop and build a formalized law school pro bono program.

Building and Sustaining an Effective Law School Pro Bono Program with a Baker's Dozen Tips
This article describes the various models of law school pro bono and public service programs and offers key strategies and practical ideas for building and sustaining an effective program.

Directory of Law School Public Interest and Pro Bono Programs
The Directory provides current information on law school public interest and pro bono programs and curricula.

Launching a Pro Bono Program: 5 Steps to Success
This article offers concrete suggestions and sample materials for how to launch a program that both educates law students about the importance of pro bono and provides meaningful legal assistance.

Learning to Serve: The Findings and Proposals of the AALS Commission on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities
This report discusses pro bono work in a law school setting and makes the primary recommendation that every law school should seek to make available for every student at least one well-supervised pro bono opportunity and either require participation or find ways to attract the great majority of students to volunteer.

Making Equal Justice Work: The E-Guide to Public Service at America's Law Schools
The E-Guide is an interactive online directory of public interest programs and curricula at law schools within the United States.

Tapping into the Law School Market: Building Partnerships, Leveraging Resources
This article discusses trends in legal education, highlights the benefits of partnerships between legal service providers and law schools and provides guidance on how to build an effective law school partnership.

The Renaissance of Idealism in the Profession Pro Bono and Public Service Best Practices Resource Guide
This Guide provides short descriptions of pro bono and public service best practices currently being utilized by a variety of organizations, including law schools.

Public Service and Pro Bono Career Resources

Firms Sponsoring Split Public Interest Summers
This brochure compiles an annotated list of law firms which have instituted programs that enable law students to work part of the summer with the firm, and part of the summer with a public interest organization, with the firm paying the students' salaries for the entire summer.

Help Yourself and Others With Pro Bono
This article demonstrates how participation in pro bono activities enhances career development and provides information on how students can find opportunities matching their career goals and interests as well as find time to perform pro bono during law school and beyond.

Law School Public Service Resource Handbook
The Handbook is a free resource for law school career services professionals and pro bono program administrators. It is geared specifically as a resource for those who are new to public interest career counseling and pro bono administration. It offers useful tips from more experienced professionals and points newer professionals to the many resources that are available to them through the ABA, AALS, Equal Justice Works, NALP, PSLawNet, and elsewhere.

Law Firms Sponsoring Public Interest Summers and Summer Fellowships
This brochure compiles an annotated list of law firms that have instituted split public interest summer programs and externship or rotation programs that enable law students hired as summer associates to spend part of their summer or one to three weeks (respectively) working exclusively on pro bono work, with the firm paying the students' salaries for the entire summer. It also provides information on law firms that have instituted fellowships opportunities for graduating law students and judicial clerks seeking public service opportunities for the summer after they graduate law school but before they begin work at the firm as an associate.

NALP Public Service Law Network (PSLawNet)
This website provides a comprehensive clearinghouse of public interest organizations and opportunities ranging from short-term volunteer and paid internships to full-time jobs, fellowships and pro bono opportunities. The website also provides resources and publications for students interested in public interest careers, post-graduate fellowships, summer funding and pro bono opportunities.

Pro Bono Guide: An Introduction to Pro Bono Opportunities in the Law Firm Setting
This guide deals with the benefits of pro bono work, existing trends, models of effective pro bono programs and some sample interview questions to evaluate an employer's commitment to pro bono.

Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI)
PILI offers internships and fellowships for law students and new law school graduates, respectively, to work at public interest law agencies in Chicago.

Public Interest Specialty Guide
These guides are updated annually and provide useful public interest career information.

The Path to Pro Bono: An Interviewing Tool for Law Students
This brochure assists law students in assessing a law firm's commitment to pro bono.

Loan Repayment/Forgiveness Information

ABA Commission on Loan Repayment and Forgiveness
The Commission website provides information and links to state-based, law school, employer and federal loan repayment and forgiveness programs.

Lifting the Burden: Law Student Debt as a Barrier to Public Service, The Final Report of the ABA Commission on Loan Repayment and Forgiveness
This Report provides an analysis of the educational debt problem and discusses the impact of the problem on the legal profession and society, including strategies and success stories.

Meeting the Challenge of Law Student Debt: Loan Repayment Assistance Programs
The tri-fold brochure was designed to promote law school LRAP's. Law schools may use this brochure to educate potential donors about the importance of LRAP's.

State LRAP Tool Kit: A Resource Guide for Creating State Loan Repayment Assistance Programs for Public Service Lawyers
The Tool Kit contains a wealth of information about creating statewide, as opposed to law school-specific, loan repayment assistance or forgiveness programs for lawyers pursuing public service legal jobs.

To see a list of law schools with LRAPs and related links, please visit: www.abanet.org/legalservices/sclaid/lrap/lawschoollraps.html.

National Organizations Supporting Law School Pro Bono and Public Service

ABA Law Student Division
The Law Student Division offers a variety of ways to get engaged in public interest law. In addition, the Division has created the Pro Bono Partnership Program which allows attorneys to partner with willing law students who can perform pro bono activities such as researching issues, writing memos, and drafting pleadings.

American Association of Law School (AALS) Section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities
The purpose of the Section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities is to promote the communication of ideas, interests and activities among members of the Section and to make recommendations to the Association on matters concerning Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities.

Equal Justice Works (EJW)
Equal Justice Works organizes, trains, and supports public service-minded law students and is the national leader in creating summer and postgraduate public interest jobs. They also host the annual Equal Justice Works Conference, Career Fair and Awards Dinner every October in Washington, DC.

National Association of Law Placement (NALP)
NALP supports a variety of public sector initiatives and provides a forum to exchange information, develop resources, and guide policy and programs related to public sector careers.

If you have any questions about the information on this page or would like to share information regarding pro bono at your law school, please , or call (312) 988-5775.

Updated: 5/31/2016

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