A formal Pro Bono Program was established by the School of Law in 2013 to provide students with opportunities to gain practical lawyering experience while serving persons of limited means, as well as help cultivate a sense of professionalism and social responsibility.
In accordance with ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools, Standard 302, Interpretation 302-10, the program defines pro bono broadly to include activities for the benefit of persons of limited means, whether or not law-related.In addition, work done for a non-profit with 501(c)3 status will also qualify. Participation in credit-granting activities, such as work students perform as part of an externship course or clinic, will not count as volunteer hours under the Pro Bono Program.
Although the Pro Bono Program is voluntary, students are strongly encouraged to engage in a variety of volunteer activities throughout the year. At the end of each academic year, first-year law students who have logged at least 10 hours of pro bono work, and second and third-year law students who have logged at least 20 hours of work, will receive a Certificate of Recognition in honor of their contributions. In addition, the top 10 students in each class who volunteer the most hours will be recognized at the Edna Nelson Awards Banquet.
The Career Development Office will help identify and inform students of pro bono opportunities on the local, regional and national levels, and will work to build partnerships with legal aid organizations and law firms throughout Missouri. However, ultimate responsibility for locating and developing pro bono opportunities rests with the students and student organizations, and they are expected to locate and develop opportunities for pro bono service in addition to those identified by the Career Development Office.
The Career Development Office will publicize opportunities to participate in pro bono activities that come to its attention and post information about these activities on Symplicity. Students can locate volunteer opportunities by going to the Jobs tab and selecting the “pro bono” filter under Position Type. Students may also find services opportunities through MUServes.
Students also record their pro bono hours on Symplicity. Students can access the form for recording these hours by selecting the Quicklink found on their Symplicity home page. First-year students are introduced to the Pro Bono Program during Orientation Week and will be shown how to record their hours at that time. Second and third-year students can drop by the Career Development Office if they would like specific instruction on recording their hours. Pro bono hours are recorded on the honor system and false recording of hours is considered a violation of the law school’s Honor Code.
The School of Law celebrates Pro Bono Month in October. Throughout the month, the Career Development Office sponsors speakers and special volunteer clinics. Check the law school calendar or Events on Symplicity for more information.
The Career Development Office also promotes special challenges and competitions among student organizations in an effort to increase student volunteer hours. These take place throughout the year.