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Pro Bono for Supervisors

The Toll Public Interest Center has promoted the public service ethic to over 4,000 Penn Law students while providing more than 350,000 hours of legal assistance to governmental agencies, public interest and non-profit organizations, and law firms in Philadelphia and nationwide. 

In 2000, Penn Law was the first law school to be awarded the ABA Pro Bono Publico Award in recognition of the Public Service Program.

At Penn Law our students engage in pro bono service to fulfill a graduation requirement and, more importantly, as a significant part of their legal education. In meeting the 70-hour pro bono requirement for graduation, students gain valuable lawyering skills while providing critical services to clients who might otherwise not receive legal assistance.

To ensure that law students are ready to transition into their roles as legal professionals, TPIC provides ample pro bono opportunities from the full spectrum of legal issues, shaped by student and faculty interests as well as from requesting organizations. During each academic year, TPIC places approximately 600 students at several hundred public interest organizations, governmental agencies, and non-profit organizations, and this list continues to grow. These students carry out this work through our existing 25 student-led pro bono projects, student-initiated placements, and ad hoc opportunities. We are constantly seeking to add new organizations to our roster. Our students are dedicated, intelligent, and enthusiastic, bringing great value to the organizations and communities that they assist and benefitting immensely from the experience.

TPIC believes strongly that this arrangement must be mutually beneficial to be productive. We do hope that after you review the information on this website, you will see the value in establishing a working relationship with us and supervising Penn Law students.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Short-Term or Long-Term Supervision?

Organizations and attorneys can request Penn Law students to assist with pro bono matters on a short-term or long-term basis. Short-term opportunities are referred to as “Ad-hoc projects”. With ad-hoc projects students are generally assigned individually by the Pro Bono Program Manager. Ad-hoc projects can commence and finish at any time during the academic year. If you have a potential ad-hoc opportunity, please fill out the Attorney Request for Student Assistance Form.

Long-term opportunities are generally connected to one of Penn Law’s 25 existing pro bono projects. Generally, these opportunities need to be available for students to begin work in the early fall and carryon throughout the academic year. For more information about long-term partnerships, please read the FAQ below.

FAQ for Potential Long-Term Placement Sites

How does my organization get involved with Penn Law pro bono projects?

Complete and submit the Pro Bono Opportunity Form. We will contact you to confirm your interest and acquaint you with TPIC’s goals and expectations. From there we may setup a meeting in which project details and pro bono groups can be further explored. We are also available to meet with you to discuss ways to recruit and mobilize students.

What are my obligations as a TPIC Supervisor?

For long-term placements, TPIC requires participating employers to assign at least 35 hours of law-related work during the academic year (September-April); provide ongoing supervision and feedback to students regarding their progress and the quality of their work; and to complete all required paperwork (a “Confirmation Agreement” prior to the start of the placement and the “Student Log/Supervisory Report” once the assignment has been completed).

How does the placement process work?

Students select which pro bono project(s) they would like to participate in during sign-up fairs in the fall and spring. These projects are filled on a “first come/first served” basis. 

Can I pre-select which students work for me?

While our sign-up process is based on a “first-come/first-served” basis, you can specify prerequisites that students must satisfy in order to work on your project.

What if the student does not work out?

TPIC maintains contact with placement sites throughout the year. If there is a concern or issue about a student’s work, we recommend that you discuss the situation directly with the student. If the student is not responsive and/or you are not able to come to a mutually agreeable resolution, please contact a member of TPIC staff and we will discuss the issue with the student. If the relationship is dissolved and an employer requests another student, TPIC will try to accommodate the employer’s needs, whether or not the request comes durign one of the designated sign-up periods.

What types of work and assignments are best suited for law students?

Penn Law students can perform a wide range of legal work including community legal education, client intake, client interviews, administrative hearings, factual investigation, research and writing, and policy analysis. Students cannot receive public service credit for clerical work, event planning, or donation solicitation.

What if I have special requirements?

You may indicate prerequisites and deadlines on the “Placement Opportunity” form.