Why Pro Bono?
Pro bono offers an outlet for students to continue service to the community but with a new focus on legal-related projects. Working in pro bono offers law students the opportunity to apply what they learn to real projects under the supervision of licensed attorneys. Such projects offer students practical experience while helping members of the public who would not normally have access to legal assistance.
Through this experience, students have the opportunity to work alongside and get to know practicing lawyers and get exposure to a number of different practice areas. The ultimate goal it to build a bridge between students, the legal profession, and those groups who are typically underserved in the legal system.
Interested in volunteering? Let us know! Please look over our Pro Bono Project Descriptions page for projects that may interest you. Our monthly Newsletter also provides updates on the progress of new projects and updates on upcoming programs. If you want more direct support on how you can get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get you connected to the volunteer opportunities that interest you!
Please visit our Report Your Hours page to learn more about how student involvement in pro bon is recognized at Elon Law.
What Counts as Pro Bono?
Pro Bono service is designed to directly or indirectly meet the legal needs of underrepresented groups. Examples of such work may include: charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, health, or educational organizations working to address the needs of persons of disadvantaged or limited means; individuals, groups, or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties or public rights; or activities seeking to improve the law, the legal system, or the legal profession.
Eligible pro bono work is uncompensated work done for a non-profit organization who otherwise could not afford legal services without significantly depleting their financial resources; a government program, such as the Guardian ad Litem program; or a private attorney representing a client on a no-fee basis. The work must be legal or law-related; requiring the utilization of legal skills developed in preparation for a career in law.
For these purposes, competing or assisting (coaching undergraduates or other advisory roles) in mock trial competitions is not Pro Bono work. Further, work provided for government entities does not qualify as pro bono work unless the service is designed to meet the needs of the aforementioned groups.
Hours logged for projects/programs such as the Innocence Project and Tax Counseling for the Elderly count as pro bono hours. Training required to undertake the pro bono placement, excluding general body and interest meetings, also count as pro bono work. However, for the training hours to count, the skills learned during those sessions must actually be put into practice, and active involvement with the project is anticipated. Hours completed for a class clinic, externship, or program which go beyond the number of required hours, and meets the elements of the pro bono definition, can count as pro bono work. Hours worked for clients in the Leadership and Public Law class, beyond the expected hours, also count as pro bono work.
Of note, if a student receives any financial compensation, including public interest stipends such as the IOLTA Public Interest Stipend, the hours performed cannot be counted as pro bono hours. Pro bono service hours completed beyond the number of hours required to fulfill the commitment for the stipend can count as pro bono. If the stipend does not specify an hourly requirement, the Office of Student Affairs should be consulted for further clarification.
Pro bono projects that you have arranged yourself may count toward your total pro bono hours; it does not have to be a project arranged through the law school to qualify! However, students who arrange their own pro bono projects are encouraged to verify with the administration that their project does meet the definition of pro bono prior to beginning work. Any questions can be directed to the Office of Student Affairs.
on pro bono service
2013 Pro Bono Recognition - Class of '15
"I got involved with the Guardian ad Litem program because I wanted to find a way to get involved in the Greensboro community while also helping children. I find my work to be very important because these children are innocent victims and have faced a great deal of adversity at such a young age, they need to know that they have a stable person in their lives that they can trust. My job is to be that stable person for them and to ensure that their needs are met and that their voice is heard in the courtroom."
2012 Pro Bono Award Winner - Class of '14
"Pro Bono work is important because is a relatively simple manner to positively impact the lives of individuals in the community at-large while still doing what you love. The experience provides you the opportunity to assist those who otherwise would not have had help with whatever the issue may be. "
"I worked at Pisgah Legal Services this summer in a rural county in North Carolina (Rutherford County). PLS provides free civil legal aid to disadvantaged children, senior citizens, families at risk of homelessness and victims of domestic violence. I absolutely loved my experience and learned more from working in a nonprofit than I ever expected. PLS opened my eyes to a new type of need and reminded me why I came to law school in the first place; justice for ALL. Protecting the basic needs of the people within my home town was humbling, life-altering, and gave me hope that there are others in the legal field who understand the dire needs of those in poverty. I felt I was using my education and analytical skills for the betterment of society."