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CWSL Pro Bono Program Celebrates 30 Year Milestone

Scales of justice

This year’s Student Recognition Celebration marked a significant milestone for California Western.

Not only did the virtual celebration recognize Cal Western’s students for their excellence in academics, competitions, leadership, pro bono, and public service, but it also marked the 30th anniversary of the Pro Bono Program.

The Pro Bono Program provides students the opportunity to gain valuable legal experience while simultaneously helping their community. The program was established in 1991 under Professor Linda Morton’s leadership in cooperation with the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program.

California Western’s Career & Professional Development Office (CPDO) facilitates the 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.

Every Cal Western student has the opportunity to participate in the program, and students who volunteer at a nonprofit organization for a minimum of 50 hours are inducted into the Pro Bono Honors Society.

“The ABA and the California Bar Association highly encourage every lawyer to volunteer for 50 hours of pro bono service each year. At Cal Western, we seek to start that practice now while students are in law school,” said Cory Schaller, California Western’s Career Advisor, Pro Bono and Public Service.

“Reaching this 30-year milestone is a huge testament to the program, the faculty, and the many students who have contributed so many hours of pro bono work through the years. This year, even during a pandemic, I am proud to say we had 57 students volunteer a total of 8,069 hours of pro bono work,” added Schaller.

During 2020, CPDO and employers revamped the student internship experience to operate remotely and still help those in need. CPDO launched an online tracking program this year to monitor different levels of participation. Students could earn Bronze, Silver, or Gold levels of recognition based on the number of hours worked.

Professor Glenn Smith, California Western faculty advisor to the Public Interest Law Foundation, who inducted the latest round of students into the Pro Bono Honors Society, expressed his pride at the thousands of hours Cal Western students devote to making a difference in the community.

“It is such a privilege to be involved in acknowledging our students for their rock-solid, deep, and expansive commitment to pro bono and public service work,” said Professor Smith. “It was so great to be able to recount the many accomplishments and induct the students into honor societies befitting those generous contributions. I couldn't have been prouder!”

For more information on the California Western Pro Bono and Public Service Programs click here.