Pro Bono Honors Program
Student Frequently Asked Questions
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Why participate in the Pro Bono Honors Program?
Besides giving back to your community and providing services to organizations serving people in need, you will be advancing your career! Pro Bono service allows you to:
- Gain valuable, practical legal experience in a real-world setting
- Meet smart and dedicated attorneys who can help mentor you in your career
- Have client contact and help real people with real problems
- Learn more about a particular area of law practice
- Help build a culture of public service at the law school and in the legal profession
- Actualize the School of Law mission of Generous Public Service
Who is eligible to participate?
All UW law students are eligible to participate: students in the J.D., LL.M., and Ph.D. programs. Awards will be presented each May for pro bono work completed in the last twelve months.
The next UW Law Annual Awards Ceremony will take place May 16, 2014.
What are the program requirements for LLM and PhD students?
LLM and PhD students need to complete at least 30 hours of qualifying pro-bono work between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014. Otherwise, program requirements are the same as other students.
How will students be recognized for Pro Bono Legal Assistance?
- Students who report a minimum of 30 direct legal service hours (10 hours for 1Ls) will receive a Pro Bono Honors Certificate of Recognition
- The 1L and the 2L who report the most pro bono hours out of his or her graduating class will receive special recognition with a Pro Bono Honors Award
- The 3L who reports the most hours of pro bono service throughout his or her law school career will be honored with a Pro Bono Student of the Year Award
- The LLM or PhD student who reports the most hours of pro bono service in a reporting year will receive special recognition.
- All participants will receive a cool t-shirt!
How will students be recognized for Pro Bono Project Leadership?
Students who report a minimum of 30 hours (10 hours for 1Ls) managing, coordinating and/or leading UW Law-based Pro Bono projects will be recognized with a Pro Bono Leadership Award.
What is considered pro bono work?
There are two kinds of work that can qualify for an award.
Pro Bono Legal Assistance
- Work (including research and writing) directly related to the delivery of legal services to indigent individuals
- Work (including research and writing) for an attorney or attorneys on behalf of an organization to which donations qualify as deductions under state or federal tax laws
- Work (including research and writing) for an attorney or attorneys that is directly related to the delivery of legal services to indigent individuals where the retainer agreement has specified that the attorney or attorneys are performing the work pro bono and are not to receive a fee from the client
- Work (including research and writing) for an attorney or attorney on behalf of a government agency which directly benefits low-income communities
- Up to two hours of training related to the delivery of legal services to indigent individuals, that is then followed by the actual delivery of services. This does not include required trainings associated with the Pro Bono Honors Program
Note: "Legal services" and "law-related work" also include work that is related to alternative dispute resolution.
Pro bono legal assistance may be performed for:
- a UW Law-based, student-run pro bono project that provides legal assistance to low-income clients or provides legal assistance to a non-profit organization representing low-income clients
- the UW Law Moderate Means program
- a public interest or non-profit advocacy organization
- a government agency that provides legal assistance to low-income communities
*If you are involved in providing legal assistance, you need to be under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney. All pro bono work by the student must be performed without remuneration of any kind, either monetary (salary, hourly wage, stipend, etc.) or for academic credit. Work performed by a student for academic credit as required for a Public Service Externship, for the Public Service concentration track, or under a PILA or other grant, stipend, fellowship or work-study is not eligible under the Program. However, students who exceed the required number of hours for their Public Service Externship, PILA grant, the Public Service concentration track, stipend, fellowship, or other certificate program may count those additional hours, if they otherwise qualify as pro bono work.
Pro bono legal assistance does not include the following:
- Volunteer work performed for a judge or court unless hours reported are directly related to a project providing access to justice to low-income litigants
- Volunteer work performed for a government agency that does not directly benefit low-income communities
- Work performed for academic credit as required for a Public Service Externship, for the Public Service concentration track, or under a PILA or other grant, stipend, fellowship or work-study
- Non-legally related volunteer work for an organization or firm that would otherwise qualify
Pro Bono Project Leadership
Coordinating, managing or leading a UW Law-based pro bono project.
The project must provide direct legal assistance to low-income clients or provide legal assistance to a non-profit public interest organization (for law students only).
Coordinating, managing or leading a student pro bono project may include the following:
- Serving as an officer and/or board member
- Providing case-management
- Recruiting and coordinating volunteers
Examples of student-led pro bono projects include (but not limited to):
Immigrant Families Advocacy Project (IFAP), Street Youth Law Advocates (SYLAW), Incarcerated Mothers Advocacy Project (IMAP), International Treaty Monitoring Project, and Environmental Law Society’s pro bono research projects.
If you have ideas to start a new student- led pro bono project please talk to Aline Carton Listfjeld, Assistant Director for
Public Service Law, at . She can provide information and resources.
What kinds of organizations do Pro Bono work?
- UW Law-based, student-run pro bono projects that provides legal assistance to low-income clients or provides legal assistance to a non-profit organization representing low-income clients
- The UW Law Moderate Means program
- Public interest or non-profit advocacy organizations
- Government agencies that provides legal assistance to low-income communities
Can students be recognized for both Pro Bono Project Leadership and Pro Bono Direct Legal Assistance?
Yes. Those students will need to keep track of both types of work separately and submit two work completion forms. Only one essay will be required.
Can I combine pro bono legal assistance hours with leadership hours to satisfy the award requirement?
No. Each award is designed to recognize a specific type of pro bono work. Students may be recognized with more than one award so long as the student has satisfied the requirements for each specific award.
I attended a similar training session last year. Do I need to attend the new training sessions to qualify for an award?
Yes. However, students who previously participated in the program only need to attend one of the Advanced Topics trainings in winter quarter 2014. Please check out our training page to learn about your training options.
When is the UW Law Annual Awards Ceremony?
The UW Law Annual Awards Ceremony takes place every spring quarter. The next awards ceremony and reception will be Friday, May 16 2014, 3:30 PM at the law school.
How can I get more information about the program?
For more information about the Pro Bono Honors Program, please contact Aline Carton-Listfjeld, Assistant Director, Center for Public Service Law, or (206) 616-9789.
What is the difference between the Pro Bono Legal Assistance program and the Project Leadership program?
The Pro Bono Legal Assistance program recognizes work related to providing legal assistance to underserved and/or low-income clients.
The Pro Bono Project Leadership program recognizes work related to coordinating, managing or leading a student pro bono project.
See What is considered pro bono work? for more information