What is the Pro Bono Honors Program?
The WCL Pro Bono Honors Pledge program recognizes 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 designed to encourage students to continue engaging in pro bono service throughout their careers. Students who take the pledge commit to completing a minimum of 75 hours of pro bono and community service projects. 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 by doing non-legal community service work.
What Qualifies as Legal Pro-Bono Work?
Be performed at a nonprofit organization, government agency, court, or qualifying WCL Program.
• Be performed without the student’s receiving academic credit or payment
• Be law-related
• Be on behalf of low-income/underrepresented people or for a government agency/court
• Be under the supervision of an attorney
Why Take the Pledge?
In addition to the satisfaction that comes with serving those most in need, you will also gain valuable legal skills while networking and enhancing your resume. Students who meet the pledge are honored by the WCL community, with distinction based on the total number of hours completed, at the annual Peter M. Cicchino Public Service Awards Dinner in April, and in the graduation bulletin. There are no negative consequences for not completing the pledge.
How Do I Sign Up and Log Hours?
OPI administers the Pro-Bono Honors Pledge through CareerLink. Note: 1Ls must wait until mid-October to receive an account. In the meantime, keep track of your hours so you can log them later. Once you have an account, login to sign up and start reporting hours. An instructional video on how to do that is here.
Ongoing Pro Bono Opportunities
D.C. Bar’s Landlord Tenant Resource Center
The Landlord Tenant Resource Center provides free legal information to unrepresented tenants and landlords engaged in housing disputes in D.C. Customers receive information on court processes and assistance in preparation of pleadings. Student volunteers will assist attorneys with case triage and limited screening to determine the nature of the customer’s inquiry and level of need.
Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless: Hypothermia Outreach
The Hypothermia Outreach Project relies on volunteers to reach out to families and individuals who have no safe place to sleep at night and are seeking emergency shelter. Volunteers connect with homeless families seeking shelter, and help the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless share important information regarding rights, access to housing, and life-saving services.
International Refugee Assistance Project
The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) provides comprehensive legal representation to individual refugees seeking resettlement. IRAP organizes law students and attorneys to provide legal representation to those who have none. IRAP helps clients navigate the rules and processes of resettlement in the US. More information on the WCL Chapter here.
Veteran’s Consortium: Veterans Pro Bono Legal Clinic
The Veterans Consortium (TVC), the Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP), and the Washington DC VA Medical Center are partnering with AUWCL to staff The Veterans Pro Bono Legal Clinic every Friday. Student volunteers collect client data for triage and conduct issue spotlighting
Homeless Persons Representation Project:
HPRP is Maryland's only legal services and advocacy organization dedicated to eliminating homelessness. Volunteers conduct interviews and gather essential data from clients for criminal recor expungement in order to facilitate higher success rates for clients i obtaining employment and housing. To volunteer, you must first complete the training.
DC Family Court Self-Help Center
The Family Court Self-Help Center is a free walk-in service that provides unrepresented people with legal information in family law matters. Customers receive information on court processes and descriptions of available legal options. Student volunteers will work with attorneys to give legal and referral information to customers.
National Network to End Domestic Violence: WomensLaw Hotline
WomensLaw, a project of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, has a website that provides state specific legal information for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The WomensLaw.org Email Hotline seeks WCL law students to answer the hotline, which gives victims from around the country the opportunity to email legal questions and be connected to resources. The commitment is approximately 1 hour per week for at least 6 months.
Washington Lawyer’s Committee:
Worker’s Rights Clinics
The Washington Lawyer’s Committee hosts a Workers’ Rights Clinic walk-in clinic where low-income workers with employment law problems can have a one-on-one consultation. Law student intake volunteers conduct intake interviews with workers. Volunteers may also assist with writing demand letters and filing complaints with appropriate agencies or workplace supervisors. Volunteers should commit to at least one shift a month.
Amara Legal Center
Amara Legal Center provides free legal services to individuals whose rights have been violated while involved in commercial sex, whether involvement was by coercion, necessity, choice, or otherwise. Student volunteers will be able to get practical experience by conducting intakes and issue spotting.