Public Service Guidelines and Procedures
What Is Public Service?
Public service can be any volunteer activities that serve the community, the public, or the legal profession. Ideally, for law students, the service opportunity will engage the student's lawyering or professional skills (very broadly defined to including leadership, communication, strategic planning, and other professionally relevant skills).
In order to be recorded, service activities must be otherwise uncredited and uncompensated. This means clinic and externship work may not be recorded as service hours.
Our definition is not as narrow as the Model Rules of Professional Conduct's definitions of pro bono or law-related service and can include university service events such as Campus Kitchen, or community work such as Habitat, as well as more traditional pro bono service under the supervision of an attorney.
When Can I accrue Service Hours?
- Law students may begin to log service hours beginning with their second semester of law school.
- Hours must be logged in the semester in which they occur.
- Service Hours may not be logged for summer volunteer activities.
What Else Do I Need to Know?
- Activities that involve actual cases, clients, or active legal matters must be supervised by an actively licensed faculty member, senior administrator or supervising attorney or judge who will oversee student work and will set guidelines for satisfactory completion. Law students may not unilaterally give legal advice to a client or otherwise engage in the unauthorized practice of law.
- Students who complete a one semester credited externship during the fall semester have the option of reporting hours as service in the spring semester for volunteer work with the same supervising attorney, provided that the work serves the public or the profession and is not fee generating.
- Students who extern with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia during the fall semester are required to volunteer during the spring semester as a condition of their acceptance of the fall externship; this is a requirement of the U.S. Attorney's Office and not the university.
- Students who complete more than one hundred fifty hours (150) of uncompensated and uncredited service during law school will be awarded a certificate and their extraordinary service will be noted at the awards ceremony prior to commencement.
- The Public Service Program does not automatically satisfy the New York Pro Bono Admission Requirement. Those who plan to take the New York Bar Exam need to comply with the state's requirements, which are explained here: https://www.nycourts.gov/attorneys/probono/FAQsBarAdmission.pdf
Examples of Projects
- Any work that serves others may be eligible for service hours.
- ABA, VSB, or VTLA committees or projects, work with non-profit boards on general governance issues or for particular projects.
- Pro Bono Net-VA, a joint effort of the Virginia Poverty Law Center, Blue Ridge Legal Services, and Virginia's legal aid programs, is an online resource for lawyers, law students and paralegals interested in pro bono work specifically with legal aid organizations in Virginia.
- Student Government, Honor Advocates, SBA, or committees may be counted as "University Service," as these roles serve our university community.
How do I log my hours?
Note: If your project does not appear in the menu for logging hours, advise Trenya Mason, Assistant Dean of Law Student Affairs, by email (email@example.com).