Pro Bono Honors Pledge Program

PROGRAM OVERVIEW INFORMATION

Washington College of Law was founded on the principle of advancing the causes of low-income and underrepresented people. The Pro Bono Honors Pledge Program furthers this goal by recognizing the voluntary, uncompensated work undertaken by WCL students while at the law school on behalf of low-income and underrepresented populations or for the public good. The program is also designed to encourage students to continue carrying out pro bono service in their careers as attorneys after graduation, and is a great way to get experience in a field of possible interest.

Through the program, students pledge to complete a minimum of 75 hours of pro bono and community service projects at organizations working on behalf of low-income and underrepresented populations or for the public good. At least 50 hours of the pro bono work completed must be with an organization engaged primarily in law-related or legal work. However, students may complete up to 25 of their 75 hours in non-legal community service work.

Students who complete the pledge prior to the end of their final year at WCL will be distinguished in the graduation bulletin. Additionally, graduating students who have completed the pledge will be recognized at a public service awards ceremony each spring with distinction based on the total number of hours completed: Honors (75-124 hours), Outstanding Service Honors (125-174 hours) and Exceptional Service Honors (175+ hours). There are no negative consequences for students who do not meet their pledge.

The Office of Public Interest maintains a listing of public interest organizations in the metro Washington, DC area (available below). Students may wish to approach these organizations to inquire about volunteer opportunities. Student organizations and individual students are welcome and encouraged to create their own pro bono projects. In addition, the Office of Public Interest curates calls for volunteers from WCL programs and external organizations and then publicizes these pro bono opportunities on its blog (available below). The Assistant Director for the Office of Public Interest is available to answer questions about the Pro Bono Honors Pledge program and to meet with students one-on-one to discuss potential pro bono placements and projects.

For more information about doing pro bono work for the WCL Pro Bono Honors pledge, as well as specifics about the New York Bar pro bono requirement, please see this webcast from October 22, 2013.

Signing up for the Pledge

Students should take the following steps in order to register for the Pro Bono Honors Pledge:

  • Sign on to CareerLink. If you are having trouble signing onto CareerLink, please contact careerdevelopment@wcl.american.edu
  • On the homepage, you will see a group of “Shortcuts” on the right-hand side of the page. Click on the one labeled “Pro Bono”
  • Once you are taken to the Pro Bono tab, you will see the Pro Bono Information page, which is the registration page for the Pro Bono Honors Pledge
  • Complete the fields on the screen and click “Submit Application” to complete your registration for the Pledge
  •  You will now be able to report hours toward the Pledge on CareerLink

For more information, including information for 1Ls who do not yet have access to CareerLink, please read the FAQ above.

Reporting Hours for the Pledge

In order to report the hours that you have completed toward the Pledge, you must first ensure that you have registered for the Pro Bono Honors Pledge on CareerLink (see above). Next, take the following steps:

  • Sign on to CareerLink. If you are having trouble signing onto CareerLink, please contact careerdevelopment@wcl.american.edu
  • On the homepage, you will see a group of “Shortcuts” on the right-hand side of the page. Click on the one labeled “Pro Bono”
  • Once you are taken to the Pro Bono tab, you should be under the subtab for “Pro Bono Reporting”
  • You will see any hours that you have already reported
  • To report new hours, click on the “Add New” button
  • Complete the form and submit it  

If you are a 1L and do not have access to CareerLink yet, or if you are an upperclassmen who has reported hours by paper in the past, please read the FAQ above for more information.

Public Interest Listserv

To stay up-to-date and receive any new information about pro bono opportunities, please consider joining the Public Interest Express (PIE). Each week, the Office of Public Interest sends out a digest / newsletter that contains information about public interest events, pro bono opportunities, student opportunities, postgraduate jobs and more. Only one email is sent out over PIE each week, so don’t worry, the Office of Public Interest won’t clog your inbox.

SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE

Let other students know about your experience performing pro bono work by entering information into the Student Employer Evaluation Network (SEEN). Housed on CareerLink, SEEN facilitates student-to-student interactions by inviting students to share feedback and other information about their employer experiences, both prior to and during law school. To become part of the SEEN community, follow these instructions: Log on to CareerLink; go to the Profile tab and click Edit in the personal box on the left side. There should be a number of subtabs visible under Profile; click on the one labeled SEEN. Under the My Surveys subtab, click the “+ Add New” button at the bottom of the page. Details on desired input information are available on CareerLink.

If you have questions concerning SEEN, please contact the Office of Career and Professional Development at careerdevelopment@wcl.american.edu

 

NEW YORK BAR REQUIREMENT

On September 14, 2012, the New York State Court of Appeals adopted a new rule establishing a pro bono requirement that affects admission to the New York State bar.  Effective January 1, 2013, all candidates who will be admitted to the NY bar after January 1, 2015, with the exception of admission on motion candidates, will need to fulfill the new pro bono requirement. Pursuant to 520.16 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals, applicants who successfully pass the NY bar examination must demonstrate that they have performed 50 hours of qualifying pro bono service prior to seeking admission to the NY bar.

To learn more about the requirement, please visit the the information page of the New York State Unified Court System.