Pro Bono Experiential Learning Requirement
RWU Law’s Pro Bono Experiential Learning Requirement is designed to instill in law students the value and habit of providing pro bono legal service to low-income communities and increasing access to justice, while at the same time providing an opportunity for students to gain valuable practical legal experience.
The Pro Bono Experiential Learning Requirement (Pro Bono ELR) requires every student to undertake 50 hours of law-related pro bono legal work, as defined by ABA Model Rule 6.1, in order to graduate. Law students may not receive compensation or academic credit for their qualifying service and placements must be approved.
“Every lawyer, regardless of professional prominence or professional workload, has a responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay, and personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer.” - Model Rule 6.1 of Professional Conduct, American Bar Association, Comment #1
RWU Law’s Pro Bono ELR Student Information Guide outlines the program rules and requirements and can be found here:
Three Ways to Satisfy the Pro Bono ELR
Unpaid Internships with Public Interest Organizations, Government Agencies, and Judges/Courts
There are many public interest legal organizations (e.g., legal aid offices, public defenders, prosecution offices), government agencies, and judges, in Rhode Island and around the country, doing amazing work, where you can intern and accrue pro bono hours. You can also work with a private attorney who is doing pro bono or working on a court-appointed criminal matter, and this also counts as our pro bono for the 50-hour graduation requirement. All you need to do is request pre-approval through our Etrieve system.
Pro Bono Collaborative Project
The Pro Bono Collaborative (PBC) develops and facilitates pro bono legal service projects that match RWU Law students with Rhode Island’s top law firms and attorneys to provide pro bono legal assistance to community-based organizations and their constituents. Students are screened by the Feinstein Center, but may be supervised by Pro Bono Collaborative partnering law firm attorneys. If selected, students are asked to commit two semesters and can expect to work on their project between 4-15 hours per month. We recruit for Pro Bono Collaborative projects each August and email opportunities to join projects periodically throughout the year.
Alternative Spring Break
We offer a robust Alternative Spring Break Program where students spend a week engaged in full time pro bono legal service with their peers.
Certifying Your Pro Bono Hours
To receive credit for completion of the 50-Hour Pro Bono Experiential Learning Requirement, students must complete all required forms and submit them through the Etrieve system to the Feinstein Center by the required deadlines. Forms must be completed for each pro bono placement or project that the student intends to use towards their 50-hour requirement.