Pro Bono Service
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. A list of these organizations is available in the Student Life lobby area in the Student Center.
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.
Required Hours: 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.
Completing the Hours:
1. 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.
2. Annual hours requirement: Each student must complete at least 10 of the
required hours each academic year, unless the head of the Office of Student Life
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: Legal-related activities are limited to:
1. Pro bono service for the indigent;
2. Pro bono service for a public agency;
3. Pro bono service for a private attorney on a case in which he or she is working pro
4. 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
5. 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).
Non-legal Activities: Non-legal activities must be approved by the head of the Office of
Student Life. 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.
Publicity: Pro bono activities will be promoted by the Office of Student Life. Any
promotion will specifically categorize activities as either legal or non-legal-related.
Students will be formally introduced to these requirements during New Student
Cross-reference: Requirements for Degree and Maximum Time to Complete J.D. Degree.
Pro bono opportunities will be specifically categorized as either legal or non-legal. For more information or assistance, please contact Professor Sheehan at ProBono@law.stetson.edu.
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. The Office of Student Life maintains a list of pre-approved agencies at which a student can fulfill his or her pro bono requirement. If an organization or attorney is not on the pre-approved list, students should consult with the Office of Student Life before beginning the assignment. Students also can consult with the Office of Student Life 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. 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.
Does working more than the required hours for a clinic or internship qualify as pro bono hours earned?
All internships and clinics now require student participants to work at their placement agency until the end of the semester. Therefore, no pro bono credit may be earned by working at those agencies until after the last day of classes and after students have completed their semester hour requirement. Students may not earn pro bono hours by working at their assigned agency for additional hours during the semester. For example, if a clinic requires 16 hours of work per week, students cannot work 20 hours a week and apply for four pro bono hours. Extra hours worked during the semester may be considered in calculating grades, but cannot count toward the pro bono requirement.