The legal profession is, at its foundation, about service: service to individuals, to organizations, and to private and public entities. "Public service," however, has a special meaning for the legal profession. This meaning may be debatable around the edges, but at its core is the responsibility of the profession to insure access to justice for all by meeting not only the legal needs of those who can afford a lawyer but also the legal needs of those individuals and communities that cannot. 1
This responsibility is met both by lawyers working fulltime in the public sector and by lawyers in the private sector who provide pro bono service. Pro bono comes from the Latin "pro bono publico" and means "for the public good." In a law school setting, pro bono may have many meanings. For the practice setting, the American Bar Association (ABA) has set forth a lawyer's pro bono responsibility in Model Rule 6.1, which encourages lawyers to aspire to render at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services per year without fee or expectation of fee to persons of limited means or to organizations designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means.
With the legal profession's core value of access to justice for all as a backdrop, the ABA, representing the bar, and the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), representing the law school community, have taken the position that law schools should encourage and enable all law students to engage in pro bono and public service.
(b) A law shall offer substantial opportunities for:
(2) student participation in pro bono activities . . .
This revision amended former Standard 302(e) which provided only that a law school "should" provide opportunities for student participation in pro bono activities. 2
In August 2007, the ABA provided further clarification of this Standard when it adopted Interpretation 302-10 which provides the following:
Each law school is encouraged to be creative in developing substantial opportunities for student participation in pro bono activities. Pro bono opportunities should at a minimum involve the rendering of meaningful law-related service to persons of limited means or to organizations that serve such persons; however, volunteer programs that involve meaningful services that are not law-related also may be included within the law school's overall program. Law-related pro bono opportunities need not be structured to accomplish any of the professional skills training required by Standard 302(a)(4). While most existing law school pro bono programs include only activities for which students do not receive academic credit, Standard 302(b)(2) does not preclude the inclusion of credit-granting activities within a law school's overall program of pro bono opportunities so long as law-related non-credit bearing initiatives are also part of that program.
In its 1999 report Learning to Serve: The Findings and Proposals of the AALS Commission on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities, the AALS Commission on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities recommended "that law schools make available to all law students at least once during their law school careers a well-supervised law-related pro bono opportunity and either require the students' participation or find ways to attract the great majority of students to volunteer."
Law school programs that promote public service are important for the support and training they give students interested in pursuing careers in the public interest. These programs are equally important for teaching every law student that all lawyers in this country must play a role in achieving justice for all. These programs also help students to understand and learn how they can personally contribute their time and talent.
This Directory of Law School Public Interest and Pro Bono Programs is intended to help individual law schools meet the expectations of the ABA and the AALS and to develop strong pro bono and public interest programs. It is also designed to assist prospective law students interested in public interest and pro bono programs find the law school that best matches their interests.
The Directory builds upon the efforts of projects of the ABA and the AALS that have, over several years, collected and disseminated information about the pro bono and public interest programs of individual law schools. These efforts were carried forth by the ABA Division for Public Services and The Center for Pro Bono, a project of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. The AALS's efforts were led first by its Commission on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities and then by the AALS Section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities.
The ABA published two editions of the Directory of Law School Public Interest Law Support Programs, with the second edition being published in the fall of 1999. The Directory catalogued for the first time the array of public interest/public service programs in law schools and described the programs at individual law schools.
In 2001, the AALS Pro Bono Project published a Handbook on Law School Pro Bono Programs, which provided a history and overview of pro bono programs in law schools and included a detailed directory of these programs with selected documents from the programs. The Handbook, built upon the report of the AALS Commission on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities published in 1999 entitled Learning to Serve: The Findings and Proposals of the AALS Commission on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities. This report described the development of pro bono programs in law schools, urged law schools to provide pro bono opportunities for every student and described some of the programs of individual law schools.
The ABA and the AALS have joined forces to publish this directory to provide current information, in a centralized and web-accessible format, on law school public interest and pro bono programs and curricula. Starting in 2002, law schools were surveyed for information on relevant programs. The information in this Directory has been collected from the returned surveys, follow-up contact, content provided previously and public information.
We thank the many law school deans, public interest and pro bono advisors, clinical directors and career services staff for their assistance in responding to the surveys. Without the work of Cynthia Adcock, former AALS Pro Bono Project Director, Krista Herman, ABA Center for Pro Bono, William Jones, ABA Center for Pro Bono, Melanie Kushnir, ABA Center for Pro Bono, Elissa C. Lichtenstein, ABA Division for Public Services, Dina Merrell, ABA Center for Pro Bono and Angie Shaw, ABA Center for Pro Bono, this Directory would not have been possible.
1In 1994, an ABA study found that the combined efforts of the private bar, individual lawyers and publicly funded legal services programs can serve only a small portion - about 20 percent - of the civil legal needs reported by low-income households. For ABA legal needs research, visit http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/sclaid/research.html.
2See also the Preamble to the Standards which mandates that law schools "must provide an educational program that ensures that its graduates.understand the law as a public profession calling for the performance of pro bono legal services," and Standard 404 requiring law schools to establish policies with respect to full-time faculty that should address faculty members' "obligations to the public, including participation in pro bono activities."
For information on how to use this Directory, click here.