Recognition for Pro Bono Service
Students receive special recognition for completing a minimum number of pro bono hours while in law school. In addition, a special award is given annually to the third-year student who has most demonstrated commitment to public interest/pro bono work.
Hourly Thresholds for Recognition
All students who work a minimum of 25 pro bono hours during the academic year receive certificates and invitations to the annual celebration of pro bono work.
Graduating students who work a minimum of 75 hours (for JD students) or 50 hours (for LLM students) during the school year at Emory receive medals and special recognition in the graduation program.
New York Bar Requirements
Under New York Bar Rule 520.16, every applicant admitted to the New York Bar on or after January 1, 2015 must complete at least 50 hours of qualifying pro bono service between starting law school and filing their application for admission to the bar. (This means that students who are 1Ls or 2Ls in the 2012-13 school year should complete this requirement.)
Our program is more limited than the New York Bar's requirement. Specifically, as of October 20, 2012, work that qualifies for our program also satisfies the New York Bar definition of "qualifying pro bono service"; conversely, work that is rejected as pro bono by the New York Bar is not considered pro bono in our program. However, some types of work that we do not consider pro bono may count for New York Bar purposes. In particular, we exclude the following categories that the New York Bar includes as satisfying its pro bono requirement:
- work for a government agency;
- any work for which you are paid;
- work for a class, clinic or field placement that satisfies your course requirements (though we do count overage hours);
- any work outside of the school year.
Review this document and/or these FAQs to learn more about the New York Bar's definition of pro bono, which helps to inform our program requirements, as well as to review the details about fulfilling the New York Bar's requirements in particular.
To certify your hours to the New York Bar, you will need to have an Affidavit of Compliance completed by each attorney who has supervised your pro bono work. (Note: neither Prof. Shalf nor another student can complete this affidavit; it must be completed by the attorney or judge who directly supervised your work.)
Details of the Emory Program
- Students must register and report hours using Symplicity.
- Only qualifying pro bono hours accrued during the law school's academic year (first day of class through graduation date of the academic year -- inclusive of holiday breaks) should be reported.
- To qualify as a pro bono activity for this program, the work must be
- law-related work,
- supervised by a judge or attorney, that
- assist in the provision of legal services without charge
- for persons of limited means who cannot afford counsel and whose unmet legal needs prevent their access to justice, or
- for not-for-profit, nonpartisan (501(c)(3)) organizations, or
- for other individuals, groups or organizations seeking to promote or secure access to justice, including, but not limited to, the protection of civil rights, civil liberties, or public rights (including community legal education), or
- under the Georgia Third-Year Practice Rules.
- Pro bono work does not include non-legal public service (however worthwhile) or volunteer non-legal work for a student organization. It also does not include political campaign-related activity (even if the work includes some election-related work). Additionally, time spent mentoring students in mock trial or organizing moot court competitions do not qualify, and travel or commuting time does not qualify.
- Students who participate in any clinic, the Capital Defender Workshop, or public interest field placements where the work otherwise qualifies as pro bono work above (or for the Fulton County Landlord-Tenant Mediation Project) may count their hours exceeding the course requirements. However, the only hours that qualify are those for law-related work, and not any instructional time, commuting time, or other time that does not involve using legal skills. (Note that the NY Bar allows you to count all hours for externships or clinics, not just the overage hours.)
- Pro bono work opportunities may be posted on the website or in Symplicity. Individual students and student organizations are also encouraged to find their own pro bono opportunities.
- Hours should be submitted as they are accrued, and reported for each day that they are accrued, with a sufficiently specific description to allow us to determine whether the hours qualify as pro bono work.
- Hours must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on April 5 each year to allow for recognition at the annual reception and at graduation. Graduating students who wish to be recognized must have completed all hours by this deadline. First- and second-year JD students accruing additional hours between April 5 and graduation may carry over those hours to the next year.
- All hours are subject to verification. As in all activities, students undertaking pro bono work are subject to the Emory University School of Law Professional Conduct Code.
Students having specific questions about recognition for pro bono activities should send their questions by email to the Chair of the Public Interest Committee, Professor Sarah Shalf, sarah.shalf(at)emory.edu. (Pre-approval, however, is not required.)