All students at the Law School must perform 70 hours of pro bono legal work by the end of the 3L year, a minimum of 35 of these hours must be completed by the end of the 2L year. You can get a head start on your pro bono service during your first year at Penn Law by earning a maximum of 35 hours of public service credit for work in approved placements.
Finding the appropriate opportunities
The Toll Public Interest Center will assist you in identifying pro bono opportunities best suited to your skills and professional goals while helping you provide much needed legal services to the community. You can join any of the 31 internal, student pro bono projects, apply for your own student-initiated placement, or take on an external, TPIC-assigned pro bono assignment.
Defining “pro bono”
The term pro bono originates from the Latin phrase pro bono publico, meaning “for the public good.” Pro bono legal services refers to uncompensated, voluntary work that yields a public benefit. This type of legal aid may include working with community, government, or non-profit organizations as well as individuals who are unable to pay for legal services. The American Bar Association encourages all lawyers to engage in at least 50 hours of pro bono work annually in order to fulfill their responsibility to the profession and to the community.
Unfortunately, students need to be aware that there are consequences for non-compliance.
3Ls who do not submit documentation of an accumulation of at least 70 hours by the last day of spring semester classes will not be permitted to graduate.
2Ls who do not submit documentation of 35 hours of service by the last day of spring semester classes will have a hold placed on their fall registration. In order to register, they must complete their required 35 hours over the summer, plus an additional 20 hour penalty, for a total of 55 hours. These additional 20 hours will not count towards special recognition at the end of the 3L year. Any student who is required to perform public service hours over the summer must meet with the TPIC staff for approval before they begin their service hours.
Fulfilling the requirement and more…
- 83% of graduating students participate in at least one student run pro bono project to fulfill all or part of the requirement.
- 32% of 1Ls participate in pro bono service.
- The average number of hours logged per student by graduation is 95.
- 93% of recent Penn Law grads exceeded the 70 hour pro bono requirement!