This week at Mizzou Law, the Career Development Office and the Academic Dean will be promoting the new Pro Bono Program. During the summer, the offices worked to establish a formal Pro Bono Program that will 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.

Pro bono comes from the Latin phrase Pro bono publico which means for the public good.  Pro bono service uses the specific skills of professionals to provide services to those who are unable to afford them.  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. 

Mizzou Law’s Pro Bono Program is voluntary, students are strongly encouraged to engage in a variety of volunteer activities throughout the year. Legal pro bono activities will be posted in Symplicity, MU Serves posts service opportunities in the community. Participation in credit-granting activities, such as work students perform as part of an externship course or clinic, will not count as pro bono hours.  However, after the externship or clinic is completed, if the student continues to provide service to individuals or causes that serve the underserved, they will be able to log those hours.  For instance, if a student participates in the Landlord Tennant Practicum and after the semester is over, the student continues to volunteer time at Mid-Missouri Legal Services to work on housing cases, those hours may be logged.

At the end of each academic year, first-year law studens 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.

During this week, Dean Gely and Linda Lorenz will be introducting the program at the beginning of several 2L and 3L classes.  This will allow students to receive more information and to ask additional questions.  First year law students will learn more about the new program during second semester.