Sign up for the OPI Informer Listserv
Pro Bono Honors Pledge Program
History of the Pro Bono Honors Pledge Program
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. In general, in order to qualify, the work must:
- 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
For more information, please see the Pro Bono Honors Pledge Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
Recognition for your Service
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.
Identify Pro-Bono Opportunities
- Guide to Public Interest Organizations in DC: The Office of Public Interest maintains a listing of Public Interest Organizations in the DC Area. 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.
- Public Interest Listserv: To stay up-to-date and receive any new information about pro bono opportunities, please consider joining The OPI Informer. Each week, the Office of Public Interest sends a digest that includes information for students and alumni about public interest events, internship postings, pro bono opportunities, job listings, tips and a student/alumni spotlight. Only one email is sent each week.
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. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.