Organizations engaged in public interest legal work, including government and other public service organizations as well as law firms pursuing pro bono projects, are invited to request pro bono project assistance from Columbia Law students.
How to Request Pro Bono Legal Assistance from a Columbia Law School Student
Social Justice Initiatives distributes new pro bono postings to students weekly throughout the year (including during the summer). We encourage offices and organizations that already have an established relationship with our office, as well as offices and organizations that are new to the Columbia Pro Bono Program, to submit discrete pro bono projects for posting to students.
If you have ideas for student projects, whether they be research-oriented or direct service in nature, please contact SJI at email@example.com or 212-854-3318. A Pro Bono Program staff member will be happy to speak with you to flesh out project specifics and to discuss distributing the opportunity to our students. Interested students will then contact you directly.
All pro bono projects must meet the following four criteria:
- Law-related. The project requires knowledge of the law for completion.
- Supervised by an attorney (either directly or indirectly). The attorney supervisor will sign off on the final work product and/or a Student Initiated Petition if needed.
- In the public interest. Examples include work that helps those who are under-represented, educates the public about the law, improves the legal profession, or deals with an issue of public importance from any side of the political spectrum.
- Uncompensated. Students may not receive any form of financial remuneration (salary, stipend, or grant) or academic credit (writing or other) for their work.
IMPORTANT: Representation on individual cases is not available through this program. All four criteria above must be met for students to volunteer on pro bono projects.
We also suggest you include some sort of “application” in your advertisement for assistance, including requests for a resume, any specific course or experience requirements, and perhaps a 100-word statement of interest or cover letter, as well as a deadline for responses and your contact information.
Regarding work at a law firm, students may not receive credit for work done during a week in which s/he is being paid. Work done on behalf of paying clients at a law firm will not qualify for pro bono credit.
In addition to discrete research or other projects, offices and organizations can also advertise for unpaid term-time legal interns through our Pro Bono Program by submitting the same information detailed above.
In exchange for volunteer Columbia Law student legal assistance, the attorney supervisor must complete a Supervisor's Report provided by your student after s/he submits her/his work. Here's a sample of what we'll ask.
Please send any questions and pro bono project postings to firstname.lastname@example.org.