Law Class of 2018 Contributed More Than $85 Million Worth of Pro Bono Legal Services
Eighty-four law schools reported that 16,502 law students in the class of 2018 contributed more than 3.48 million hours in legal services as part of their legal education, an average of about 211 hours per student. Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization coalition, estimates the value of volunteer time to be $24.69 an hour. Using this number, the total value of the students’ time at these schools is estimated to be in excess of $85.9 million.
In December 2018, 84 law schools reported that 16,502 law students in the class of 2018 contributed more than 3.48 million hours in legal services as part of their legal education, an average of about 211 hours per student. Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization coalition, estimates the value of volunteer time to be $24.69 an hour. Using this number, the total value of the students’ time at these schools is estimated to be in excess of $85.9 million. The schools represent nearly half of the students in American Bar Association accredited law schools in the class of 2018. AALS made the announcement in conjunction with its annual meeting in New Orleans, January 2-6.
Many schools reported that some hours go uncounted or are difficult to track so actual contributions were likely higher. The project also did not include hours contributed by students in law school master’s degree programs such as an LL.M.
Law students contributed hours through a variety of efforts, including externships at legal aid and community organizations, law school clinics, and law student organization led projects. These hands-on or experiential learning opportunities enabled students to apply classroom teachings to legal problems under the supervision of lawyers and professors. Students received practical experience in law and communities received critical legal services.
“In order for law to serve our constitutional democracy, it must be genuinely open to all,” said Vicki Jackson, 2019 AALS President and Thurgood Marshall Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School. “Without lawyers, many cannot understand their rights or protect their jobs, children, credit, homes, or neighborhoods. The significant pro bono work by law students, reported today, bodes well for the future of law and lawyers in moving closer to achieving the ideals of equal justice in our democracy.”
Law students contributed hours to hundreds of efforts serving thousands of clients, including the following examples:
Boston University School of Law – Immigrants’ Rights & Human Trafficking Program
Brooklyn Law School – Disability and Civil Rights Clinic
Columbia Law School – Spring Break Pro Bono Caravans
Duke University School of Law – Environmental Law and Policy Clinic
Harvard Law School – Puerto Rico Hurricane Assistance
Indiana University, Maurer School of Law – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
University of Maine School of Law – Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic
University of Maryland Carey School of Law – Transnational Environmental Accountability
The University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law – Children’s Defense Clinic
North Carolina Central University School of Law – Virtual Justice Project
The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law – Entrepreneurial Business Law Clinic
University of Pennsylvania Law School – Student Pro Bono Projects
University of Pittsburgh School of Law – Elder Law Clinic
St. Thomas University School of Law – Bankruptcy Externship
Seattle University School of Law – Access to Justice Institute
Stanford Law School – Social Security Disability Project
Texas A&M University School of Law – Family Law and Benefits Clinic Veterans Project
University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law – Pro Bono Week
University of Virginia School of Law – Health Law Clinic
University of Wisconsin Law School – Restraining Order Clinic
A full report on the survey is available on the AALS website.
The Association of American Law Schools (AALS), founded in 1900, is a nonprofit association of 179 law schools. Its members enroll most of the nation’s law students and produce the majority of the country’s lawyers and judges, as well as many of its lawmakers. The mission of AALS is to uphold and advance excellence in legal education. In support of this mission, AALS promotes the core values of excellence in teaching and scholarship, academic freedom, and diversity, including diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints, while seeking to improve the legal profession, to foster justice, and to serve its many communities–local, national and international.