Pro Bono Service
Review the documents below for the latest pro bono service opportunities.
Stetson was one of the first law schools in the country to establish a pro bono service requirement for graduation. The legal community has embraced Stetson's commitment to public service, and Stetson Law has been nationally recognized for its emphasis on public interest.
Professionalism is honed over the course of your law school experience, but is expected from day one. Upon acceptance to Stetson, you are regarded as a member of the legal profession. High ethical standards are implicit in every element of your training, and a commitment to service is part of our mission.
Please see the Pro Bono Documentation Form (PDF) and the requirements listed below. Students have performed their pro bono service at a variety of Tampa Bay area organizations. These organizations are listed in the documents linked above and on Facebook.
Pro Bono Graduation Requirements
|William F. Blews
Pro Bono Service Award
In honor of William F. Blews '66, Stetson Law has established this award to recognize those students who, at a minimum, perform twice the number of Pro Bono service hours required for graduation.
All J.D. students who enter the College of Law in or after Fall 2010 (whether as a new or transfer student) are required to complete 60 hours of pro bono public service. At least 30 hours must be completed in legal-related activities; the 30 remaining hours may be completed in non-legal-related activities. Students who are in a clinic that has been pre-approved as a public service clinic will receive up to 30 hours of public service credit which will satisfy the legal pro bono requirement. However, public service credit from working in a clinic does not count in computing pro bono hours for the Blews award.
Completing the Hours:
- Deadline to complete all hours: Students must complete all 60 required hours before the end of their next-to-last semester in law school. Students who have not completed all required hours by this deadline will have their grades and transcripts held until they have completed the requirement. July graduates will be treated as May graduates for purposes of this policy.
- Annual hours requirement: Each student must complete at least 10 of the required hours each academic year, unless the Director of Pro Bono grants an exception for extraordinary circumstances. A student may complete more than 10 hours in any given year; once a student has completed all 60 hours, he or she is not required to complete additional hours to meet this annual minimum. For purposes of this policy, an academic year ends on May 31.
Legal-related activities are limited to:
- Pro bono service for the indigent;
- Pro bono service for a public agency;
- Pro bono service for a private attorney on a case in which he or she is working pro
- Pro bono service performed under the supervision of a faculty member, if the
faculty member is engaged in a legal pro bono project and the student's work is
more than mere research assistance; and
- Pro bono service performed for a law school project pursuant to a grant or other funding, where the work is supervised by someone other than the faculty member overseeing the project, and the work is not used by the faculty member for activities that would generally be supported by research assistance (such as scholarship or speeches).
All pro bono activity which is not already pre-approved by the law school must be pre-approved. In order to get credit for pro bono legal work with a private attorney, students must submit a letter from that attorney describing the work to be performed and explaining that the person or entity the work is being done for needs the service but cannot afford to pay. The letter must also state that the attorney will be supervising the student throughout the project.
Non-legal activities must be approved by the Director of Pro Bono. Non-legal-related activities exclude fundraising for the University and the College of Law. Students may not satisfy their non-legal pro bono requirement by volunteering for departments on campus.
Pro bono activities will be posted on this website as well as on Facebook (Stetson Law Pro Bono) Any promotion will specifically categorize activities as either legal or non-legal-related. Students will be formally introduced to these requirements during New Student Orientation.
For more information or assistance, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we have a pro bono requirement?
Pro bono service is an integral part of a lawyer's responsibility and has been for centuries. All citizens have legal rights, but not all of them know what those rights are or how to access them. However, the inability of the poor to obtain legal assistance can result in devastating consequences. A lawyer's knowledge requires that he or she donate time to protect these people's rights.
Where can I do pro bono service?
For the most part, students can choose any agency, nonprofit organization, attorney or governmental entity. If an organization or attorney is not on the law school’s pre-approved list, students must contact the Director of Pro Bono and seek prior approval. Students also can consult with the Director about special requests for pro bono assignments, such as fields or practice areas related to a particular interest.
Do I have to do all of my pro bono hours at one time or at only one place?
No. Students are required to meet their pro bono requirement six months before graduation. This gives full-time students 2.5 years and part-time students 3.5 years to complete their requirement. Students can perform pro bono service any time during that period.
What if the attorney I'm working for is earning money on the project?
When working for a lawyer on a pro bono case, you need to obtain a letter from the attorney indicating that he or she is not receiving any fees, including court-appointed fees, for the case and the reason why he or she is not receiving fees. Working an extra 20 hours at a clerking job does not count as pro bono hours, since the firm still would be billing your time to clients and/or profiting from your work.
How can pro bono work benefit me?
In addition to meeting the graduation requirement, students may meet professional contacts and references. Students who have worked hard at their assignments may earn letters of reference from their pro bono supervisors.