How many hours do I need to complete the Pro Bono Pledge?

To complete the pro bono pledge, you have to complete a certain number of pro bono (law-related) hours. The remaining hours can be either pro bono or community service. The table below breaks down the required hours by category.

 Student Status  Total   Required Pro Bono 
 (Law Related)
 Pro Bono
 OR Community Service 
 J.D.  75  50   25 
 J.D. Transfer  50   35   15 
 LL.M.  25   15   10 

 

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What happens if I don't meet my pledge goal?

There are no negative consequences for not meeting your pledge goal.

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What happens if I do meet my pledge goal?

Students who meet or exceed their pledge goals by graduation will receive a notation in the graduation bulletin and a certificate from OPICS, signed by the Dean. Individual students may also receive special recognition for exceptional service at the annual Public Interest Proud Reception in the spring.

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How should I list Pro Bono Honors on my resumé?

It's ultimately up to you! Every resumé is unique, but this is one way we suggest:

  • Pro Bono Pledge Honoree - completed 75 hours or more of pro bono service.
  • Special Pro Bono Pledge Honoree - completed over 125 hours of pro bono service.
  • Exceptional Pro Bono Pledge Honoree - completed over 175 hours of pro bono service.
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How many hours do I need to complete to receive special Pro Bono Pledge recognition?

 Student Status Total Required Pro Bono
 (Law Related) 
 Pro Bono
 OR Community Service
 J.D. 125 75  50 
 J.D. Transfer 75  50  25 
 LL.M. 35 20  15 

 

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How many hours do I need to complete to receive exceptional Pro Bono Pledge recognition?

 Student Status Total  Required Pro Bono
 (Law Related) 
 Pro Bono
 OR Community Service 
 J.D.  175 100   75 
 J.D. Transfer 100  75  25 
 LL.M. 50 30  20 

 

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What kinds of work qualify toward the Pro Bono Pledge?

To satisfy the Pro Bono Pledge, a certain number of volunteer hours must be pro bono (law-related) and the remainder can be either pro bono or community service. See the "How many hours…" questions to determine the number of volunteer hours you must perform for your Law Center degree program. See the "What work qualifies as…" questions to determine whether a given volunteer opportunity is pro bono or community service work.

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What work qualifies as pro bono?

Pro bono work must be:

  1. Not for credit or compensation. As explained below, most work that is required for a class, journal or clinic does not qualify.
  2. Supervised by a licensed attorney or law faculty member, except in the following circumstances:
    1. Work is done for a member of Congress or a Congressional committee.
    2. Work is done for an organization engaged in lobbying or legislative/policy work—provided the work is still law-related.
    3. Work is translation done for any law-related pro bono cases (including those from Georgetown Law clinics).
    4. Work is assistance with a low-income tax clinic under the supervision of a CPA.
    5. Work is otherwise approved by the Pro Bono Coordinator.
  3. For a non-profit organization, government agency, public interest law firm, or private law firm providing pro bono legal services. A 'public interest law firm' is one that is listed in the Private Public Interest and Plaintiff's Firm Guide (available in OPICS) or one that meets the Guide's general definition of such firms. In the latter case, the firm must be approved by the Director of Pro Bono Programs.
  4. Law-related and on behalf of individuals, groups or causes that are either under-represented in the legal system or that benefit the public good.
  5. Done while the student is enrolled in classes at Georgetown Law or a related program (e.g. joint degree, visiting law school) except in the following circumstances:
    1. Students who receive EJF summer funding, which covers the first six weeks of work, may count up to 40 hours of work they do after the first six weeks.
    2. Students may count law-related volunteer work done in the summer that is separate and distinct from the student's primary employment or internship.
  6. Training time for work which meets the first four criteria. Time spent traveling to or from a volunteer commitment does not count. Time spent traveling as a part of a volunteer commitment (such as to and from court, the library, another office, etc.) does count.
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What work qualifies as community service?

Community service work must be

  1. Not for credit or compensation. Service that is required for a class, journal or clinic does not qualify. However, service related to a class, journal or clinic but performed on a volunteer basis may qualify.
  2. Either:
    1. On behalf of a non-profit organization, government agency or organized program that serves the disadvantaged, disenfranchised or benefits the general public. Partisan work does not qualify.
      1. Examples of qualifying activities: tutoring at an under-served school, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, participating in a walk for cancer victims, helping at a humane society, engaging in an environmental clean-up project. 
      2. Examples of non-qualifying activities: volunteering for political campaigns or political action committees, coaching sports (unless for a disadvantaged population, such as the disabled, inner-city youth, etc.).
    2. On behalf of any Georgetown Law student group or organized effort that serves underserved or otherwise disadvantaged individuals or communities (including animals and the environment). 
      1. Examples of qualifying activities: volunteering for or serving on the board of EJF, Georgetown Outreach, Home Court, Habitat for Humanity, the Innocence Project, etc.; volunteering for or serving as a leader of a community service project sponsored by a Georgetown Law student group or other campus organization.
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Do externship, clinic, practicum, class, or journal hours count toward the Pro Bono Pledge?

A key aspect of the Pro Bono Pledge is that the work performed be voluntary. Accordingly, pro bono service that is required for a class or journal, done for credit, or for which you receive funding may not count towards the Pro Bono Pledge. Hours worked beyond the required amount, however, may count as described below:

  • Externship Any externship hours performed beyond the terms of the hours required for credit may be counted. For instance, if your externship requires you to work 15 hours a week and you work 30, the 15 hours of unpaid overtime qualify as pro bono.
  • Clinic Hours spent on clinic work while enrolled in said clinic do not count toward the Pro Bono Pledge. 
  • Practicum Courses Work done beyond the required hours for the pass/fail external field placement component of a practicum may be counted toward the Pro Bono Pledge. For example, if you are in a practicum course that requires 110 hours of work during the semester and you do 150 hours of work, the 40 hours of extra work may be counted towards the Pledge. Work done for a practicum without a pass/fail external field placement requirement is not eligible.
  • Class Hours spent on coursework (unless covered above) are not Pro Bono Pledge eligible.
  • Journal Work done for a journal, including for a required community service project, is a requirement of journal membership and is not Pro Bono Pledge eligible.

For an exhaustive description of pledge accreditation, see the "What work qualifies as…" questions.

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Do summer internship hours count toward the Pro Bono Pledge?

If you are not compensated at all for your summer internship, you may count up to 40 hours toward the Pledge. If you are a stipend recipient or are receiving academic credit, you may still count up to 40 hours but only for work performed before or after the stipend-funded or credited portion of your internship. If your summer internship is compensated with a salary, you may not receive Pro Bono Pledge credit. Volunteer activity performed during the summer on behalf of a second organization (i.e. other than for your primary internship, externship, or job) may count towards the Pledge.

For an exhaustive description of pledge accreditation, see the "What work qualifies as…" questions.

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Does political campaign work count toward the Pro Bono Pledge?

No. Partisan work on behalf of a political party does not count towards the Pledge. However, volunteering at a legislator's office, for a legislative body or committee, or otherwise serving elected officials carrying out their official responsibilities, would count towards the Pledge.

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How do I keep track of my volunteer hours?

Pro Bono Pledge reporting takes place in Symplicity. Once you have signed up for the Pro Bono Pledge, you will see a tab labeled "Pro Bono Reporting." This is where you will report all of your pro bono hours and activities. For law-related pro bono, you will need to list the organization, hours completed, and the name and contact information for a supervising attorney (unless it falls under one of the exceptions above, in which case list the appropriate supervisor). For community service hours you only need to list the organization and the hours completed.

For help navigating Symplicity, see the Symplicity FAQ.

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Do I need to validate my volunteer hours?

No. Once you have submitted a pro bono record you do not need to take any additional steps.

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How do I find volunteer opportunities?

Great question! Take the Pro Bono Pledge in Symplicity (see My Account > Pro Bono > Registration) to receive Georgetown Gives Back, the pro bono newsletter, as well as information about the fall and spring Georgetown Pro Bono Project.   

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Can I do pro bono work as a first-year student?

Absolutely! While first-year students are still developing their legal skills, there are a variety of law-related tasks for which first-years are well suited. Check out the 1L Pro Bono Service Project for more information.

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