April is National Volunteer Month. To celebrate, this month’s focus is service. The calling as lawyers to be servant leaders is needed now more than ever. We spend considerable time helping our law students develop their professional identities. Service should be a significant component. As our first post in this series, we hope to collect and share information about how law schools promote pro bono and public service.
At Baylor Law, we recently hosted our annual Student Awards Ceremony, where we recognized our students who have gone above and beyond in their pro bono service. We encourage students to engage in service during law school by recognizing them for the number of hours volunteered or their contributions in specific programs, such as the Veterans Clinic. Recognition in the Pro Bono and Public Service Program starts at 50 hours and builds up to 225+ hours, at which point the student is recognized at graduation as a Public Interest Fellow (as long as the student has also completed some specific public interest focused coursework).
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We would love to see other examples of ways to encourage future lawyers to make service an important part of their professional formation. Please tell us how you encourage service at your law school.
- Does your law school have a mandatory or voluntary program?
- Either way, what do you do at your school to recognize law students who have gone above and beyond?
- Do you give awards or certificates?
- Do you hold an awards ceremony?
Please share in the comments section or by direct email to [email protected]. Of course, the comments will be available to everyone, but we will compile the results at the end of the month and share them in a follow-up post on this blog to synthesize the information.
At Georgia State University College of Law, students are not required to complete service, but those who do are recognized for their pro bono and public service at graduation – with honors, high honors, or highest honors, depending on the number of hours completed while enrolled. We also give an award every year at Honors Day to the student who completes the highest number of service hours through the law school’s Pro Bono Program, and students who participate in Alternative Spring Break service trips are also recognized with certificates. Beyond these opportunities for recognition, the law school also encourages volunteerism with an afternoon of service during fall orientation and a presentation about the Pro Bono Program during orientation 2.0 in January.
The Marquette Law School Posner Exchange & Pro Bono Honor Society Induction is an annual event held each April that includes a conversation between Mike Gousha, distinguished fellow in law and public policy, and a renowned leader in public service law. The event also includes a ceremony inducting law students into the Marquette Law School Pro Bono Honor Society. Inductees have performed 50 or more hours of pro bono service during their law school careers; students who have achieved 120 or more hours receive special recognition. Each student is presented with a certificate.
Members of the Pro Bono Honor Society are listed in the graduation materials and graduate wearing an honor cord for service.
Other modes of pro bono recognition include: the local bar association and state bar associations each have an annual pro bono award for a law student from each law school. We also recognize a student each month in our internal Law News (Pro Bono Student of the Month) and treat that student with a gift card to the law school cafe.