The CUA Law Pro Bono Program fosters the importance of hands-on learning opportunities to assist those in need of access to justice. Pro Bono projects enable you to apply the lessons you have learned in the classroom to real-life cases while advancing your professional development. Participation in the program is voluntary, and there is a range of diverse opportunities to take part in.
The Columbus School of Law has a unique mission of service that is exemplified by the school’s dedication to pro bono work, a commitment shared by the student body, faculty, and alumni.
From your first week on campus, you will have the opportunity to meet the CUA Law Pro Bono Program’s Coordinator who plans the annual Community Service Day. On this day, you get a chance to give back to the local community while also getting to know your fellow classmates. The goal of this day is to highlight the importance of service to those in need. As you move forward in your legal career, you must make time to do pro bono work and the Pro Bono Program is here to help you take that first step in law school.
As a first-year student, you are encouraged to take part in pro bono opportunities as soon as you feel ready. The CUA Law Pro Bono Coordinator will help you find a project that interests you and fits in with your busy academic calendar. You are welcome to make an appointment with the Pro Bono Coordinator, Aoife Delargy.
If you feel passionate about public interest law and are motivated to dedicate your time at the law school to pro bono you can take the pro bono pledge (see section below).
Through the Pro Bono Pledge, a student commits to complete varying levels of pro bono service during their three or four years of law school. Students can pledge at one of the following levels and will receive a Pro Bono Service Honors Certificate in recognition of their service at graduation:
• 50 hours of pro bono
• 100 hours of pro bono
• 150 hours of pro bono
In addition, each year at graduation, the law school recognizes one exceptional student for their pro bono service by awarding them with the Michael F. Curtin Pro Bono Award. The award is given to the graduating student who has honored the highest ideals of the Columbus School of Law. Some of the factors considered for this award are: the student's dedicated hours to pro bono work, the diversity of their pro bono service, its impact on the community, the student's continuous involvement in pro bono service throughout law school, and student's efforts to instill the importance of pro bono particiaption in their classmates. The award is named in tribute to alumnus Michael F. Curtin, in recognition of his more than 40 years of leadership and selfless dedication to the law school and the legal profession.
The following criteria, modeled after ABA Model Rule 6.1, must be met for a student’s work to qualify as pro bono for the purposes of recognition by the CUA Law Pro Bono Program:
1. The law student must engage in law-related activities.
2. The law student’s work must be supervised and/or approved by an attorney.
3. No academic credit or financial compensation may be received for the work.
4. The law-related services must be provided for free or at a substantially reduced rate.
5. The law-related activities must be on behalf of:
a. person(s) of limited financial means; or
b. person(s) with limited access to legal representation; or
c. nonprofit, civic, community, religious or governmental organizations seeking to promote access to justice.
6. The project must be approved by the Pro Bono Coordinator. A student may submit hours for a project after it has been completed, but eligibility for pro bono program inclusion cannot be guaranteed without pre-approval.
Beginning January 1, 2015, all applicants for admission by examination to the New York State bar must perform 50 hours of law-related pro bono service prior to application filing. Note that while the definition of pro bono under the New York rule is expansive, projects for which students receive pro bono credit at CUA Law may not fall within it. For further information, visit the New York State Courts' website.