What happens if I meet my pledge goal?
Students who meet or exceed their Pledge goals will receive an honor cord to be worn at graduation and a certificate signed by the Dean, as well as be announced at their graduation ceremonies. Individual students may also receive special recognition for exceptional service at the annual Public Interest Proud reception in the spring.
What happens if I don’t meet my Pledge goal?
There are no negative consequences for not meeting your Pledge goal.
How many hours do I need to complete the Pledge?
To complete the Georgetown Pro Bono Pledge, you have to complete a certain number of pro bono (law-related) hours. The tables below break down the required hours by category and class year.
J.D. – 50
J.D. Transfer – 35
LL.M. – 20
How many hours do I need to complete to receive Special Pro Bono Pledge recognition?
J.D. – 100
J.D. Transfer – 50
LL.M. – 35
How many hours do I need to complete to receive Exceptional Pro Bono Pledge recognition?
J.D. – 200
J.D. Transfer – 125
LL.M. – 50
What work qualifies as pro bono for purposes of the Georgetown Pro Bono Pledge?
Pro bono work must be:
- Not for credit or compensation. As explained below, most work that is required for a class, journal or clinic does not qualify.
- Supervised by a licensed attorney or law faculty member, except in the following circumstances:
- Work is done for a member of Congress or a Congressional committee.
- Work is done for an organization engaged in lobbying or legislative/policy work – provided the work is still law-related.
- Work is translation done for any law-related pro bono cases (including those from Georgetown Law clinics).
- Work is assistance with a low-income tax clinic under the supervision of a CPA.
- Work is otherwise approved by the Pro Bono Coordinator.
- For a non-profit organization, government agency, public interest law firm, or private law firm providing pro bono legal services. See the Summer Funding page for guidance as to what constitutes a ‘public interest law firm.’
- Done while the student is enrolled in classes at Georgetown Law or a related program (e.g. joint degree, visiting law school). Work done during the summer semester, when the student is returning to Georgetown the following Fall or Spring semester, may count: See the “Do summer internship hours count…” question below.
- Training time for work which meets the first five criteria, so long as the student follows through on the project. 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.
Do summer internship hours count toward the Pledge?
Students may count up to 40 hours of otherwise qualifying work done over the summer with a primary placement, subject to the following parameters:
- Georgetown Law Public Service Summer Grant recipients may count 40 hours as pro bono.
- Georgetown Law Dean’s Public Service Summer Fellowship recipients may count up to 40 hours of pro bono beyond the six weeks of full-time work covered by the Fellowship.
- An EJF Augmenting Award has no effect on the summer hours count.
- Recipients of a Squire Patton Boggs, Kevin Ryan Child Welfare or Marilyn Tucker International Fellowship, which require an eight-week commitment, may count up to 40 hours of work beyond the eight weeks.
- Recipients of outside funding sources with a specified time commitment may count up to 40 hours as pro bono, but only for work performed before or after the stipend-funded time frame.
- For students earning externship credit, up to 40 hours performed beyond the terms of the externship may be counted.
- Summer work compensated with a salary is not eligible for Pledge recognition; this includes pro bono assignments while a summer associate at a law firm or work done through a “split summer” program, where the student is compensated by a law firm for time spent with a public interest placement.
Work with a secondary placement: Otherwise qualifying pro bono work done over the summer that is separate and distinct from one’s primary placement may be counted in its entirety.
Do externship, clinic, practicum, class, or journal hours count toward the Pledge?
A key aspect of the Georgetown 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 toward the Pledge. Hours worked beyond the required amount, however, may count as described below:
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. See “Do summer internship hours count toward the Pro Bono Pledge?” for guidance about the 40-hour summer cap on pro bono hours.
Hours spent on clinic work while enrolled in said clinic do not count toward the Georgetown Pro Bono Pledge. If work on a clinic matter continues beyond the end of the final exam period, the overage hours may be counted if approved by the clinical professor and conveyed to the Pro Bono Coordinator in advance.
Work done beyond the required hours for the pass/fail external field placement component of a practicum may be counted toward the Georgetown 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.
Hours spent on coursework (unless covered above) are not Georgetown Pro Bono Pledge eligible.
Work done for a journal, including for a required community service project, is a requirement of journal membership and is not Georgetown Pro Bono Pledge eligible.
For an exhaustive description of pledge accreditation, see the “What work qualifies as…” question.
Does political campaign work count toward the Pledge?
No. Partisan work on behalf of a political party does not count toward the Georgetown Law Pro Bono Pledge. However, otherwise qualifying volunteer work at a legislator’s office, for a legislative body or committee, or otherwise serving elected officials carrying out their official responsibilities, does count toward the Pledge.
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. The project listings in the fall and spring Georgetown Law Pro Bono Project and in Georgetown Gives Back will specify if a given project is restricted to upper class students.
How do I report my pro bono hours?
Pro Bono hours are reported and tracked online through Symplicity. To report hours, you must register for the Pro Bono Pledge (see above). From your profile page, click on “Pro Bono” under “My Account” and then “Pro Bono Reporting” on the second bar down in the upper side of the account page.
You should create one record for each organization with which you’re involved each semester. Click “Add New” to enter hours for a new organization. Select “Pro Bono” from the pull-down and fill out the relevant fields that follow regarding the pro bono term and supervision. Then click the blue “Add Hours” button.
A new table will appear, with a line for the current day. If you are reporting on an ongoing basis, use the same record to track all hours over the course of that semester for that placement. You may also record your hours per semester/organization in bulk, so long as you retain records as to when specifically you performed the work. Enter your last day volunteered in the Add Hours table.
I might take the New York bar exam and hear there is a pro bono admission requirement. What can I be doing while in law school to comply?
As proof of completion, applicants will need to file an Affidavit of Compliance for each pro bono activity used to satisfy the 50-hour requirement. Each Affidavit must be certified and signed by the appropriate supervising attorney or faculty member. OPICS strongly recommends that Affidavits be completed immediately after the qualifying pro bono work is done, as tracking down supervisors or required information months or years after the pro bono work has been completed may be difficult. Visit the New York Bar Pro Bono Requirement page for additional information.
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 XX hours or more of pro bono service.
- Special Pro Bono Pledge Honoree – completed over XXX hours of pro bono service.
- Exceptional Pro Bono Pledge Honoree – completed over XXX hours of pro bono service.