Pro Bono Program

Raising awareness of access to justice concerns and supporting pro bono service reflects a shared community value and it is an institutional priority. Blewett School of Law graduates recognize the character, values, and professionalism necessary to serve society as lawyers, including the importance of pro bono work, service, and access to justice for underserved communities. To support this learning outcome, the law school maintains a voluntary Pro Bono Program.

The goals of the Pro Bono Program are to:

  1. support and encourage student awareness of their professional obligation to engage in Pro Bono service,
  2. provide hands-on learning opportunities for students through approved Pro Bono service opportunities, and
  3. promote, encourage, and recognize Student, Staff, and Faculty participation in Pro Bono service.

The Pro Bono Program focuses on the promotion and development of professional legal values and the delivery of free legal services to underserved persons, communities, and organizations. Service in the Pro Bono Program is limited to law-related service that meets an access to justice need. It does not include non-legal volunteer work, and it does not include service for which any compensation or academic credit is received. Read the full Pro Bono Program description here.

Pro Bono Program Enrollment

Students are encouraged to render at least (50) hours of student Pro Bono service during their law student career. Law Student Pro Bono service is defined as:

Supporting or (if authorized by a jurisdiction’s Rules of Professional Conduct and Student Practice Rule) rendering law-related services with no compensation or expectation of compensation and with no receipt of academic credit to:

(1) persons of limited means or

(2) charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters that are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means

(3) individuals, groups or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties or public rights, or charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters in furtherance of their organizational purposes, where the payment of standard legal fees would significantly deplete the organization’s economic resources or would be otherwise inappropriate.

Students, staff, and faculty can participate in the Program by completing a Pro Bono Program pledge form. The pledge form includes: 1) a description of the Pro Bono Program's purpose and goals; 2) a definition of qualifying Pro Bono Service; 3) the hour goals to be eligible for institutional recognition; 4) an agreement to log hours in a database designated by the Pro Bono Coordinator, in a form and on a schedule designated by the Pro Bono Coordinator; and 5) an agreement to provide follow-up information and feedback about the participant’s experience with the Program.

Students, staff, and faculty enrolled in the Pro Bono Program are eligible for institutional recognition.

Program Requirements

Students who complete at least fifteen (15) hours of Pro Bono service during their first year in law school (from the first day of a student’s first year of law school to the day before the first day of the student’s second year of law school) receive a “Dean’s First Year Student Pro Bono Recognition” certificate.

Students who complete at least fifteen (15) hours of Pro Bono service during their second year in law school (from the first day of the student’s second year of law school to the day before the first day of the student’s third year of law school) receive a “Dean’s Second Year Student Pro Bono Recognition” certificate.

Students who complete at least twenty (20) hours of Pro Bono service during their third year in law school (from the first day of the student’s third year of law school to the last day of final exams of the student’s last semester of law school receive a “Dean’s Third Year Student Pro Bono Recognition” certificate.

Students who complete at least fifty (50) hours of Pro Bono service during their law school career (from the first day of law school to the last day of final exams of the student’s last semester in law school) receive a notation on their transcript that they completed the law school Pro Bono Service Program requirements.

Students who complete at least one hundred fifty (150) hours of Pro Bono service during their law school career (from the first day of law school to the last day of final exams of the student’s last semester in law school) receive:

  • A “Pro Bono Honors” notation on their transcript
  • An announcement during the graduation ceremony and a notation in the graduation ceremony materials that the student is graduating with “Pro Bono Honors”

    Student Pro Bono recognition certificates, transcript designations, and honors designations are official confirmation and recognition of a student’s commitment to Pro Bono service, and may be referenced and included in employment applications materials.

Application to Current Students and Transfer Students

Students whose law school career began before the adoption of this Program and transfer students who engaged in Pro Bono service at another law school are eligible to participate in the Program and receive transcript and graduation recognition. Students in this category may participate in the Program by completing a Pro Bono Pledge form and submitting verification to the Faculty Pro Bono Supervisor. 

Hour Tracking

If you are currently doing pro bono legal service, no matter where it is, please begin tracking your hours via NetworkX! The instructions are below:

  1. Log in to NetworkX.
  2. On the left-hand menu, go to the “Experiential Learning” tab.
  3. In the top right of the page, click on “Create New Opportunity”.
  4. Fill out information for your pro bono opportunity provider, supervisor, and volunteer start dates.
  5. After you have filled out this information, click “save”.
  6. On the next page, review that all the information you provided was correct, then click the “Submit for Approval” button in the top right corner. This notifies the Pro Bono Coordinator that you have submitted an opportunity for approval.
  7. Once the Pro Bono Coordinator has approved your submitted opportunity, you can click on the “Hour Log” tab and start submitting hours.
  8. Once the pro bono opportunity is completed at the end of the semester, you can click the “Submit for Approval” button for final approval. If you submit for final approval, you will not be able to submit more hours.

Contact

Questions about the program?  Contact Karlene Kuhn, Pro Bono Coordinator, AmeriCorps member - Justice for Montanans, at probonocoordinator@mso.umt.edu or (406) 243 4266.