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First-Year Students: Should you Participate?

pro bono program

Should you participate in the Pro Bono Program?  The answer is maybe.

Many first-year students have had very meaningful pro bono experiences, and some say it provided their best "grounding" as they went through their difficult first year of law study.  Though the first year of law school is difficult, future semesters will bring their own challenges to finding the time to do pro bono volunteer work.  For example, many find the first semester of second year an impossible time because of job interviewing.

On the other hand, during your first semester you are busy getting settled and do not know yet how much time you need to study in your new environment.  Sometimes first-year students pick a placement and then back out of it, which leaves supervisors and clients unhappy.  Also, you do not yet have a lot of legal skills to apply, and you shouldn’t only do community service in your first year when you don't know as much.  You will have even more to offer to your placements as you progress through your legal education.

The bottom line is, whatever the pros and cons, over the years, first-year students really like to do pro bono work and they participate in large numbers.  So don’t feel pressured to jump right in, but, if you do, and you’re welcome to.  Just make sure that you carefully select what you commit to do, so that you do not shortchange either yourself or those you serve in the community.  Please note: First-year students are only permitted to record a maximum of 15 hours of pro bono work in the fall. You may record unlimited hours in the spring semester.                                                

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