Pro Bono Pledge Reporting Deadlines
For Year-End Recognition: March 31, 2017
For Graduation Recognition: April 14, 2017
Pro Bono Pledge Program
Seattle University School of Law and the Access to Justice Institute (ATJI) are committed to preparing its graduates for a lifetime in law at the service of justice. In furtherance of our mission and aligned with the American Bar Association's and Washington State Bar Association's goals for professional attorneys, the Pro Bono Pledge Program is designed to encourage law students to build their legal and leadership skills in service to the community.
We invite all law students to pledge to complete at least 100 hours* of legal pro bono and community volunteer work before they graduate.
*Part-time students may complete 50 hours; masters/LLM students may complete 30 hours
The Pro Bono Pledge helps connect students with opportunities and allows the law school recognize and support those students who are engaged in the community. The program is voluntary, but those students who meet their pledge goals are recognized for their contributions at the end of each school year and at graduation.
How to Participate
Interested students, at any point between their start date and the end of their final semester, may pledge online. Effective Fall 2016, Pro Bono Pledge registration and Pro Bono hours reporting occurs through Symplicity's Pro Bono Module.
- By signing the Pledge, you commit to contribute at least 100 hours of pro bono legal and volunteer services during your enrollment at Seattle University School of Law. (50 hours for part-time students; 30 hours for masters/LLM students)
- By signing the Pledge you also acknowledge that you have reviewed the relevant rules of professional responsibility.
- Although we encourage all students to participate, the Pledge Program is voluntary and there are no penalties for not enrolling or for enrolling and later not completing your pledged goals.
- Students starting in Summer 2015 or later are also asked to certify that they have taken a training preparing them to work with clients experiencing poverty before they will be approved for recognition at graduation. More info can be found here.
- 75 of 100 hours (or 75% total hours) must be considered legal pro bono activity. The remaining hours may include a broader range of community volunteer (public service) activity. See our guidelines for eligible activities.
- To stay on track for graduation and to be considered for yearly recognition by ATJI and the Dean's Office, we suggest target goals for each year:
- 20 hours during 1L Year (starting with your first day of classes)
- 40 hours during 2L year (including the summer before 2L year)
- 40 hours during 3L year (including the summer before 3L year)
- Part-time students are asked to complete 1/2 the hours of their full-time counterparts.
- Even if you are not ready to start pro bono work, we encourage all students considering pro bono to sign the Pledge to stay connected to opportunities and information. You will still be able to include eligible activity completed before you signed the Pledge.
STEP 2: DO
There is a wide range of pro bono and volunteer activity out there, and we can help you find the right opportunity. ATJI's Pro Bono Portal is a great place to start!
Most broadly speaking, to be eligible your work must be for a nonprofit or public entity, must be on behalf of individuals or groups who are underserved or of limited means (or for organizations that serve those individuals or groups), must be uncompensated and not for academic credit (with some credit or compensation exceptions), and must be completed while you are a law student here (or during summers). In addition, to be considered "legal pro bono" work, your work must involve supervision by an attorney or law faculty member (certain exceptions described in our guidelines for eligible activities). For more definitions and details about what activity is eligible, please visit our Pro Bono Pledge FAQ.
Finding an Opportunity
This list of resources can help you locate an opportunity.
Thank you for your service! You do not need to obtain advance approval for participation, though ATJI is happy to talk with you if you have questions about whether your activity is eligible. Please contact Jennifer Werdell, ATJI Associate Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.398.4455, with any questions.
Additional Items to Keep in Mind while engaging in pro bono or volunteer work
- 1Ls: While 1Ls are encouraged to participate in the Pro Bono Program, we recognize the time constraints and pressures of the first year of law school, and encourage all first year students to be thoughtful about taking on additional responsibilities and identifying placements that do not necessarily require advanced research, writing, or client skills.
- Professional Responsibility:
- Since the Pledge is voluntary, there are no penalties if you pledge but then later do not meet your pledge goals. However, it is extremely important to fulfill any obligations you have made with an external organization, supervisor, or client, and to be communicative and professional if you are unable to meet those commitments. Volunteer positions should be treated with the same level of professionalism and preparedness that you would bring to a job. If you are struggling to meet the obligations of your volunteer placement, please talk to your supervisors and/or to an ATJI staff member.
- We strongly encourage all students to take advantage of the volunteer and pro bono resources that are available at your host entity and the law school. Please be mindful of the relevant rules of professional responsibility and consider trainings that can help you to effectively work with the constituents or communities impacted by your work. Through its Pro Bono Portal and weekly newsletter, The Link, ATJI lists many relevant trainings and resources on these items as well as trainings on substantive areas of law. Other sources include:
- Center for Professional Development (CPD)
- The Washington State Bar Association Advocate Resource Center
- The ABA's Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service
- The King County Bar Association's guidelines for professional courtesy
STEP 3: REPORT!
Once you complete an eligible activity, you must then record your hours online in order to fulfill your Pledge.
- To count toward a student's pledged commitment, all hours must be reported through our online Pro Bono Reporting System (in Symplicity), which collects brief information about dates, total hours completed (training and traveling time are not eligible), host organization contact info, and the type of activity completed.
- You may only submit activity after it has been completed, and it must be completed after you start law school.
- You may report your hours as frequently as you like, but for ease of use we encourage students to create summary entries for each employer per week, month, or semester, rather than day-by-day. You must complete all activities and reporting by the pledge goal deadline to be considered for recognition at graduation.
- All submissions are reviewed by ATJI, which will make a final determination of eligibility and contact you within 30 days if any hours are ultimately determined to be ineligible. Please note that reported activity may be subject to verification by a supervisor.
- Students starting in Summer 2015 or later will also be asked to certify that they have taken a training preparing them to work with clients experiencing poverty before they will be approved for recognition at graduation. More info can be found here.
- To help ensure the quality of pro bono opportunities and ease of the Pledge program, students may be invited to complete placement and program evaluations at the end of the year.
STEP 4: CELEBRATE!
- Students who meet their Pledge goals before they graduate will be recognized at graduation by the School of Law.
- Students who complete and report 250 hours or more of eligible activity will be given a special designation in the graduation program (125 hours for part-time students).
- In addition, students who meet their yearly Pledge targets will be recognized by the Access to Justice Institute and Dean's Office at the end of each year.
- You may opt out of receiving recognition. However, we hope you still consider engaging in pro bono and volunteer service, and that you will share your information with us. Your submissions remain confidential unless you give permission for ATJI to share your information, and this information is extremely valuable to us so we can better understand how our students are spending their time and how we can best support your work in the community.
The Access to Justice Institute is not a direct legal services provider. For help in finding a lawyer, visit washingtonlawhelp.org or call 2-1-1 if you are inside of King County. If you are outside of King County, call Coordinated Legal Educational Advice Referral (CLEAR) at 1-888-201-1014.
Pro Bono Pledge Program Recognition
Our deepest thanks and congratulations to the 250 students who took the Pro Bono Pledge this year! In 2015-16 alone, students reported over 12,500 hours of legal pro bono and community volunteer activity.
Participants are invited to reach 20 hours by the end of 1L year; 60 hours by the end of 2L year, and 100 hours by graduation; part-time students complete half of those totals. We are pleased to acknowledge and thank the following students who have met their yearly Pro Bono Pledge goals and are on track for recognition at graduation, including 56 2015-16 graduates who were listed in the commencement program as Pro Bono Pledge Awardees: