Pro Bono Pledge Program
Seattle University School of Law and the Access to Justice Institute (ATJI) are committed to preparing its graduates for a lifetime in law at the service of justice. In furtherance of our mission and aligned with the American Bar Association's and Washington State Bar Association's goals for professional attorneys, the Pro Bono Pledge Program is designed to encourage law students to build their legal and leadership skills in service to the community.
We invite all law students to pledge to complete at least 100 hours* of legal pro bono and community volunteer work before they graduate.
The Pro Bono Pledge can help connect students interested in volunteer activity with interested opportunities and also helps us recognize and support those students who are engaged in the community. The program is voluntary, but those students who meet their pledge goals are recognized for their contributions both at ATJI's annual Celebration of Social Justice and at graduation.
Our deepest thanks and congratulations to the 176 students who took the Pro Bono Pledge this year! In the 2011-12 Academic year, students reported over 13,300 hours of legal pro bono and community volunteer activity.
*Students are asked to pledge 100 hours over the 'lifetime' of their 3 year law school education; current upperclassmen who matriculated before the program was launched in 2011 and part-time students may pledge a pro-rated amount as described here.
What is Pro Bono?
This term, which comes from the Latin pro bono publico, literally meaning "for the public good," typically refers to activities performed voluntarily and free of charge to help people of limited means. Common examples include:
- Volunteering as an intern at a legal services organization or government agency
- Working with a private attorney on a case that they have taken on for free
- Helping a volunteer attorney advise a nonprofit organization
- Staffing a drop-in clinic with a bar association or student organization
- Conducting know-your-rights presentations at an area community center
For the purposes of this Pledge program, 15 hours per year can come from each category of activity that is either paid or for academic credit if the work is to help an individual or community of limited means. These categories include clinics, externships, cocurricular activities (journals, Dispute Resolution Board, etc.), class-based service learning projects, and paid work. And, 25% of your time can also come from general 'community volunteer' activities that are not legal. Click here to learn more!
Why Do Pro Bono?
Students share so many reasons to do pro bono work, like:
- Gaining practical, real-life experience with clients, court, and legal processes
- Learning more about substantive legal issues
- Getting out of the classroom to connect learning with real-world experience
- Working alongside and learning more about the local community and community needs
- Helping meet critical legal needs
- Developing leadership skills
- Networking with attorneys and the legal community
- Gaining satisfaction by giving back to the community
Why NOT do pro bono?
To watch attorneys from across sectors discuss their commitment to pro bono activity and how it has helped their legal careers, click here: Pledge Pro Bono Kickoff: Helping Others while Enhancing Your Career. (10/13/2011).
Please note that The Access to Justice Institute is not a direct legal services provider. If you are working with someone who is need of an attorney, please visit http://washingtonlawhelp.org or call 2-1-1 if you are inside of King County. If you are outside of King County, call Coordinated Legal Educational Advice Referral (CLEAR) at 1-888-201-1014.