What is the Pro Bono Program?
The Pro Bono Program was established in 1991 by the Faculty and Administration of California Western School of Law in cooperation with the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program. The Program provides law students the opportunity to gain valuable legal experience while simultaneously helping to address the unmet legal needs of disadvantaged or underrepresented individuals and the nonprofit organizations that serve those individuals.
California Western’s Career Services Office facilitates the Pro Bono Program in which participating students gain career shaping legal training in multiple organizations around San Diego in a wide variety of law fields, along with deriving satisfaction from serving the public. As well, participating students establish their commitment to the American Bar Association Model Rule 6.1, which encourages all lawyers to provide at least 50 hours of pro bono (volunteer) service annually.
Pro bono opportunities are available with the agencies listed below and can include other organizations as well. Before working with any organization not listed, first check with the Career Services Office for approval. A binder is available in the Career Services Office with information involving the work of past program participants.
Students who have a Federal Work Study (FWS) award may be able to use their award at a pro bono employer and be paid for some of their service after completion of 50 hours of pro bono service and depending on availability of funds through the Community Service Employment (CSE) Fund. Application for such funds is best made during the first week of each trimester, but funds may also be available thereafter. In every and any case, you may NOT perform paid work under the CSE Fund until you have completed 50 hours of approved volunteer service documented properly on CWSL Pro Bono Program forms. You may NOT commingle your volunteer and paid hours. For more information about FWS or CSE eligibility and procedures, contact Kelly Fernando or Bill Kahler in the Financial Aid Office at (619) 525-7060.
How Does It Work?
1. Meet with Career Advisor, Jill Blatchley, to discuss pro bono opportunities. Full time students are eligible to participate in the Pro Bono Program after completion of their 1L year.
2. Select preferred organizations. Contact organization to inquire of its current need for assistance and arrange to meet with organization to discuss providing pro bono services.
3. Once pro bono work is arranged, obtain Pro Bono Program Contract and Time Log from Jill Blatchley.
4. Turn in Contract to Jill Blatchley before pro bono work begins. The Contract must be signed by the student and the organization representative.
5. The student and the organization then arrange for training and discharge of the student’s pro bono work with the organization.
6. Keep careful track of pro bono time and services you provide to the organization on the Time Log.
7. Upon completion of pro bono work with the organization, return Time Log to Jill Blatchley. Time Log must by signed by the student and the supervisor.
What is the Time Commitment?
Students must complete a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono work (exclusive of training) and may have up to two consecutive trimesters to complete this time commitment.
What Do I Get From This?
In addition to quality practical legal training and high levels of personal and professional satisfaction, the law school officially recognizes students who complete the Pro Bono Program with:
1. Induction into the Pro Bono Honors Society at the annual recognition dinner honoring students who completed at least 50 hours of pro bono service during the preceding year, which is attended by members of the legal and academic community;
2. Official notation on their transcripts and certificates of completion and appreciation signed by Dean Smith; and
3. Eligibility for the State Bar of California Wiley B. Manuel Award for pro bono legal services.
What Should I Do Now?
1. Review the Participating Organizations to begin to get a sense of where you might like to do your first pro bono work.
2. Meet with Jill Blatchley in the Career Services Office to set the wheels in motion. Her office is located on the second floor of the 350 Cedar Street building. It is best to schedule an appointment by calling (619) 525-7087. When scheduling your appointment, please reference the Pro Bono Program.
Additional Public Interest Opportunities and Funding Sources Available at:
PSLawNet is an online resource connecting public interest law job-seekers with their ideal opportunities in the public interest arena, in government, at law schools, and around the globe.
Equal Justice Works is a Washington, D.C. based nonprofit organization that works with law schools, law firms, corporate legal departments and nonprofit organizations to provide the training and skills that enable attorneys to provide legal assistance to the poor and other vulnerable populations.
Public Interest Clearinghouse cultivates partnerships between legal aid organizations, law schools and students, private attorneys, the State Bar, the Courts and others, to proactively devise strategies to address gaps in the delivery of legal aid to the most vulnerable people.
4. “Serving the Public: A Job Search Guide,” published by Harvard Law School’s Office of Public Interest Advising (available in the CWSL Career Services Library).
5. See also “Related Web Links” section on the Career Services website.
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