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External Pro Bono Placements

In addition to working with one (or more!) of our student pro bono groups, Penn Law students are welcome to create their own pro bono experiences through external, self-initiated placements.

To begin an external placement the student will directly contact the organization(s) they are interested in working with. If the organization has suitable work for the student and is interested in hosting the student for his/her pro bono, the student will then fill out a Student-Initiated Placement Form and submit it to TPIC for approval. Students should not begin any self-initiated work prior to TPIC’s approval.


Current Pro Bono Opportunities

Eligible Placement Sites

  • All government agencies (e.g. Public Defender or District Attorney’s Office, Department of Justice, etc.)
  • All non-profit organizations other than trade associations, regardless of the political orientation of the organization (e.g. Legal Aid, Planned Parenthood, Homeless Advocacy, etc.)
  • Assisting private attorneys in pro bono cases. Pro bono work is the delivery of legal services at no fee or substantially reduced fee to individuals, groups or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties or public rights, or charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters in furtherance of their organizational purposes, where the payment of standard legal fees would significantly deplete the organization’s economic resources or would be otherwise inappropriate.
  • Pro bono work on behalf of non-profit community groups is eligible if it meets the above definition and is performed by the supervisor in his or her role as counsel to the organization.
  • Work done for a faculty member (other than work on scholarship) may qualify if it meets all other criteria.
  • Clerkships with an individual judge do not qualify; however, court projects assisting pro se litigants are eligible.
  • To see a list of where past students have volunteered view the Prospective Placements.  All such placements must be approved in advance.

Eligible Work Includes 

  • Assisting an attorney at a trial
  • Community legal education
  • Client and witness interviewing and investigation
  • Drafting documents
  • Legislative analysis and policy interpretation
  • Preparing a case for trial
  • Research and writing

Non-Eligible Work Includes 

  • Administrative/clerical work
  • Event planning
  • Fundraising
  • Work on partisan campaigns 


Students have initiated external placements at over 300 organizations around the world. Below is a small sample intended to illustrate the breadth of service opportunities available to our students.


  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • Amnesty International
  • Animal Legal Defense
  • Campaign for Working Families
  • Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Center for Disability Law and Policy
  • Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights
  • City of Philadelphia Law Department
  • Defender Association of Philadelphia
  • Disability Law Center
  • Federal Public Defender Offices
  • Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office
  • U.S. Attorney’s Office
  • U.S. Department of Justice