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.
Students can accumulate a maximum of 35 hours of public service credit in their 1L year for work in approved placements.
Defining Pro Bono at Penn Law
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.
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.
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 35 hour penalty, for a total of 70 hours. These additional 35 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.