In keeping with the Law School’s longstanding commitment to encouraging its students to engage in public service activity, the Law School faculty has adopted a program for recognizing students who engage in significant amounts of volunteering.
Pro Bono Pledge
Pitt Law’s Pro Bono and Public Service Recognition Program is entirely voluntary. Incoming students will be invited to sign a non-binding “Pro Bono Pledge” that they will volunteer a minimum of 50 hours during law school.
Levels and Form of Recognition
There are three levels of recognition, each with minimum hourly requirements:
Pro Bono Excellence Recognition: 50 hours of qualifying legal pro bono volunteering during law school
Public Service Recognition: 50 hours of qualifying volunteering during law school
- Public Service Leadership Recognition: 100 hours of qualifying volunteering during law school
Students in all categories will be recognized at graduation with a gold and purple cord included with their regalia. Students attaining these levels of recognition will receive certificates and are encouraged to include this honor in their resumes.
Qualifying Pro Bono
Volunteering will count towards Pro Bono Excellence Recognition if it is unpaid and uncredited volunteer work related to providing legal services to low-income and underserved communities during law school. This definition is in alignment with the American Bar Association’s Model Rule 6.1: Voluntary Pro Bono Publico Service.
The Professional Development Office will label qualifying projects as “eligible for Pro Bono Excellence Recognition” in communications about the opportunities. In addition to projects labeled and promoted by the Professional Development Office, the following types of unpaid, uncredited volunteering will count as Pro Bono:
- An unpaid and uncredited internship with the public defender, legal services organization, or legal project which assists representation of low-income and underserved clients and communities
- Unpaid and uncredited time assisting a private attorney or faculty member on a pro bono case for a low-income client or community
- Time spent above the credited requirement in a clinic or practicum, and similarly, time spent above the stipend requirement of a summer internship which engages in legal representation of low-income and underserved communities
- Additional legal volunteering as approved by the Professional Development Office’s Assistant Director of Public Interest and Pro Bono Initiatives
Time spent on a pro bono case during a paid internship at a private law firm will not count for recognition.
Qualifying Public Service Volunteering
Public service volunteering that is uncompensated and not for academic credit will count towards the recognition program. Public Service Volunteering includes non-legal community volunteering as well as legally related volunteering beyond what is counted for Pro Bono Excellence. Volunteering performed for a stipend or externship credit does not qualify for this recognition, but you may report unpaid, uncredited government internships, community projects, and volunteering for non-profits such as JURIST. Time spent for a student organization will only qualify if it serves the community or a non-profit. General student organization meetings and activities do not qualify.
Qualifying public service work—whether law related or not—will count toward the required 50 or 100 hours, so long as it occurs during the time that the student is enrolled in the Law School. Nonetheless, the Law School strongly encourages all law students to seek out and engage in supervised, law-related pro bono work and to make such work a majority of the student’s public service activity.
Logging Your Hours
Students are eligible to receive both Pro Bono Excellence Recognition and a level of Public Service Recognition if they log the appropriate hours for each. If a student logs less than 50 hours of Pro Bono volunteering, but 50+ hours of Pro Bono and Public Service volunteering combined, they will receive Public Service Recognition.
Students must log their time via PittLawWorks, following the instructions in the Pro Bono/Public Service Recognition Guide.
If you have a question about whether an experience qualifies for a specific category of recognition, or would like to recruit students to volunteer on a pro bono project, please contact Megan Lovett, the Assistant Director of Public Interest and Pro Bono Initiatives, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 383-3523.