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Pro Bono Requirement

Meeting Requirements and Changing Lives

Western New England University School of Law has long been committed to principles of public service and professional education in preparation for the practice of law. The School of Law seeks to train students to enter into a profession in which pro bono service is highly valued, instilling the principle that members of the legal community and those aspiring to enter the legal profession have an obligation to assist in providing legal services to persons of limited means. In the spring of 2011, the faculty of WNE Law acknowledged the importance of this service by adopting a pro bono graduation requirement. In order to graduate, students must complete 20 hours of pro bono service.

What is Pro Bono Service?

Pro bono service is uncompensated. Pro bono service is defined as the provision of law-related services to:

(1) persons of limited means.
(2) charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters which are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means.
(3) individuals, groups or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties or public rights.
(4) charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, or educational organizations in matters in furtherance of their organizational purposes, where the payment of standard legal fees would significantly deplete the organization's economic resources.

Pro bono service also includes:

(5) activities for improving access to the law, improving the legal system or improving the legal profession.
(6) educational activities for improving the public's understanding of the law, the legal system, or the legal profession."

Securing a Pro Bono Placement

Students secure their own pro bono project or placement. 

The first step in fulfilling the School of Law’s pro bono graduation requirement is to secure a qualifying placement. 

  • Generally, work with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization or a government agency will qualify.
  • In some instances, work associated with a law school clinic or externship placement may count toward satisfying the requirement.  In these cases, students must receive the professor’s permission to receive pro bono credit for additional hours worked at the end of the externship or clinic. 
  • School of Law sponsored pro bono activities, including: the Consumer Debt Initiative, the Immigrant Protection Project, and Duggan Academy Mock Trial.
  • Certain Activities sponsored by student groups, such as Alternative Spring Break and the ACLU Hotline. 

To find pro bono opportunities on Symplicity, go to the job search function, click on the “Position Type” drop down, and check “Pro Bono.” Career Services staff and Ariel Clemmer, Director of the Center for Social Justice, can also assist you in identifying pro bono opportunities.

All proposed projects and placements must receive prior approval. In addition to determining whether a particular opportunity falls within the School of Law’s definition of “pro bono,” an important question to be considered in the approval process will be whether the student is appropriately supervised. Rules of professional responsibility prohibit practicing law without a license. All students engaged in legal work must be supervised by a licensed attorney. In order to receive pre-approval, please complete and submit a Pro Bono Pre-approval Form.

Certifying the Requirement

Students are solely responsible for notifying the Registrar that they have fulfilled the pro bono requirement for graduation. Students must use the Pro Bono Requirement Certification Form to report and certify completion of the requirement. Please contact Career Services when you have completed 20 pro bono service hours.