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University of Washington School of Law

University of Washington School of Law
William H. Gates Hall
Box 353020
Seattle, WA 98195

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Travis Pietila
Assistant Director
William H. Gates Hall, University of Washington Law School
Gates Public Service Program
Box 353020 Seattle, WA 98195-3020Phone: (206) 616-3020
[email protected]

Category Type

Public Service Graduation Requirement Program

Description of Programs

I. Public Service Graduation Requirement Program

All students enrolled in the Juris Doctor program are required to perform 60 hours of public service legal work to graduate. Students can fulfill the public service requirement in the following ways:

  1. By enrolling in and satisfactorily completing a law school clinic. Currently the Law School offers the following clinics: Child & Youth Advocacy, Entrepreneurial Law, Environmental Law, Federal Tax, Immigration Law, Innocence Project Northwest, Legislative Advocacy, Mediation, Tribal Court Public Defense, Unemployment Compensation Law and the Street Law Clinic (students are assigned to teach a practical law course to high school students). There is no limit on the number of clinic credits a student can take.
  2. By enrolling in and satisfactorily completing a Public Service Externship for at least two academic credits. Students can undertake externships with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, legislative bodies, the judiciary, or private law firms on pro bono matters. Students cannot undertake externships with a private law firm or agency on fee-generating matters. Students can enroll in externships only after completing the first year of law school, can take a maximum of 15 externship credits, and must work 30 hours over the course of a quarter for each credit.
  3. By enrolling in and satisfactorily completing one of the Collaborative Externship Offerings: the Olympia Quarter Fellows and the Laurel Rubin Externship Advocacy Project

The goal of the public service requirement is threefold. First, it is to educate students about their ethical responsibility as attorneys to provide pro bono legal assistance, particularly to those who would otherwise be without access to the legal system. Second, it is to foster in students a lifelong commitment to public service by providing the opportunity and training vital to the development of such a commitment. Third, it is to develop students' practical lawyering skills by providing them with actual work experience under the supervision of an attorney.

II. Formal Voluntary Program (Pro Bono Honors Program)

The Pro Bono Honors Program promotes pro bono service by University of Washington law students and recognizes them for their efforts. Through service to persons of limited means and to charitable, religious, civil, community, governmental and educational institutions, organizations, and agencies, student assist individuals and contribute to the community, as well as engage in activities to improve the law, the legal system, and the legal profession. In doing so, they gain valuable experience and advance their careers. Their work demonstrates the Law School's unique commitment to public service.

The Program also encourages UW law students to participate in community-based volunteer legal service projects. The Program allows students to enhance their learning through hands-on involvement in the community, while providing valuable services to people in need.

Students work with staff in the Career Planning Office to help identify a pro bono placement and to record hours and submit evaluations. The Career Planning Office provides a mandatory Professionalism Training Session to all students enrolled in the Program to ensure students are aware of the ethical, professional and practical issues involved in student pro bono work.

Location of Programs

The Career Planning Office oversees the externship program and the collaborative externship program which are two of the components that can fulfill the Public Service Graduation Requirement. The CPO administers the Voluntary Pro Bono Program, the Pro Bono Honors Program. Guidelines for identifying, registering, and completing public service externships and pro bono placements are available in the CPO and are available on the CPO website. and

The Clinical Law Program oversees and administers all of the law school clinics, which also can fulfill the Public Service Graduation Requirement. Information about the Clinical Law Program:


The Career Planning Office has the primary responsibility for externships, including the collaborative externship placements, from advertising open positions, to ensuring faculty and field supervision, and faculty approval of credits. The Career Planning Office administers the Pro Bono Honors Program.

The Clinical Law Program administers all of the clinics.

Academic Services Office evaluates student records for participation in clinics and externships.


The University of Washington School of Law supports the clinics, the externship program and the Pro Bono Honors Program

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

Center for Labor and Employment Justice – This student group is focused on student involvement with two main projects: 1) the innovative Worker Defense Committee at the day labor worker center, Casa Latina; and 2) the Unemployment Law Project, a member of the Alliance for Equal Justice.

Immigrant Families Advocacy Project – These students work with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and pro bono attorneys to assist immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence to get their permanent residency in the United States. Students gain valuable real-life legal experience working directly with clients and attorneys. All students are encouraged to apply.

Innocence Project Northwest ("IPNW") – The Innocence Project Northwest Clinic represents prisoners convicted in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho and Montana who offer credible post-conviction claims of actual innocence. The IPNW-SC supports the IPNW Clinic through fundraising, prisoner support projects, and by promoting discussion of actual innocence and other important topics in criminal law.

Street Youth Legal Advocates of Washington – Street Youth Legal Advocates of Washington (SYLAW) – Working in conjunction with SYLAW, a non-profit organization started by an alum, volunteer law students participate in training and orientation sessions conducted by local child advocacy attorneys. They then educate street youth about their legal rights and responsibilities through scheduled presentations and at two weekly drop-in clinics in the University District, where they do client intakes and make referrals to SYLAW's staff attorney.. Students also volunteer at a monthly Juvenile Record Sealing Clinic, where they help people of all ages complete the paperwork to seal their juvenile criminal records from public view, under the supervision of pro bono attorneys.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

Many faculty and staff provide pro bono services; the law school will develop a mechanism to track these hours and recognize the service of our employees.


Students, Faculty, Alumni and Staff receive law school sponsored awards in recognition of their public service at the following events:

Annual Student Public Interest Law Association Dinner and Auction (Hall of Fame Inductees).

Annual Alumni Awards Dinner

Annual Law School Student Bar Association Gala Awards (awards are given to students, faculty, staff and alumni)

Pro Bono Honors Annual Recognition Event (Pro Bono Honors Program Award and Pro Bono Student of the Year Award)

Community Service

Student groups at the School of Law engage in numerous community service projects. These include legal observer programs, immigration court watch programs, mentorship programs, community legal outreach programs, volunteer interpretation services and more. These programs are sponsored by Student-run organizations.

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information


Michele E. Storms
Assistant Dean for Public Service & Executive Director
William H. Gates Public Service Law Program
William H. Gates Hall, University of Washington Law School
Box 353020 Seattle, WA 98195-3020
Tel. 206 897 1836
Fac. 206 616 1365
[email protected]


Certificate/Curriculum Programs


Students in their second and third years may elect to pursue a concentration track; one of the several concentration tracks available is a Public Service Law Concentration Track. Students who demonstrate to the director of the Academic Services Office that they have met the requirements of a track by the time of their graduation will have a notation to that effect on their transcripts. The Public Service Law Concentration Track includes one required course, an advanced writing project, a public service externship or clinic, volunteer hours with a student organization or other public interest legal setting, and fifteen credits chosen from a variety of electives.


Public Interest Centers


The Innocence Project Northwest – The Project is a non-profit group of attorneys, professors and students working to free innocent prisoners. For information, visit

Native American Law Center – The Native American Law Center promotes the development of Indian law, and encourages Native Americans, and others with an interest in Indian law, to attend law school. The Center is a resource to Indian tribes, other governments and individuals in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and across the country.

Law Commerce, Technology & the Arts – LTA is an integrated academic unit that delivers education, research, and outreach on the law's role in promoting and regulating innovation in technology and arts. Through its Entrepreneurial Law Clinic it provides free legal counseling to low income entrepreneurs and nonprofits, with a special focus on social entrepreneurship.

Global Health & Justice Project – The Global Health and Justice (GHJ) Project at the School of Law is a multidisciplinary project encompassing academic and educational activities at the Law School, as well as field activities in developing countries in collaboration with the Seattle-based NGO, Uplift International. For more information see,


Public Interest Clinics

Children & Youth Advocacy

Environmental Law

Entrepreneurial Law –


Federal Tax

Immigration Law – Representation of clients involved in immigration proceedings

Innocence Project Northwest

Legislative Advocacy


Street Law

Tribal Court Criminal Defense

Unemployment Compensation

Find more information here.



A two-credit (60 hours) minimum Public Service Externship can fulfill the Public Service graduation requirement. Students often complete up to 15 credits (450 hours). General Externship Perspectives is a seminar that seeks to help students analyze and evaluate their externship from an educational and philosophical perspective. Students may also opt to take the Access to Justice Seminar as their way of fulfilling the externship perspectives requirement. The focus of the ATJ Seminar is on the legal, ethical, and financial issues involved in providing legal services to low- and moderate-income persons.


Classes with a Public Service Component


Access to Justice Seminar – This course explores the legal, ethical and financial issues surrounding providing legal services to low-income people. Satisfies the externship perspectives requirement.

Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing – The course has three major components. First, it provides an introduction to sources of law, legal reasoning, interpretative methodologies, and professional responsibility. Second, it teaches the sources and techniques for basic legal research. Third, it develops and hones students' ability to write about complex legal issues in a variety of settings and for a variety of audiences. In the final academic quarter of this traditional first year research and writing course, students have the option of selecting a capstone project. The capstone choices vary from year to year and have included: Public Interest Practicum: Immigrant Wage Claim Issues; Public Interest Law Practicum: LGBT Youth; Asylum Law Practicum; Civil Rights Policy Practicum; Human Rights Research Practicum; Judicial Clerkship Practicum; and Public Interest Practicum: Tenant Screening. In each practicum the students use their research and writing skills to support services to clients of a local nonprofit organization or to provide assistance on a case pending before a court.

General Externship Perspectives Seminar -- Course provides a framework for evaluating and analyzing externships from an educational and philosophical perspective. The seminar facilitates dialogue among students engaged in different kinds of externships and encourages consideration of the ways rules, policies, and standard business practices affect different organizations, populations, and practitioners.

Immigration Law – This course will concentrate on the statutory and regulatory scheme concerning the immigration and naturalization of aliens in the United States, including the historical origins of U.S. immigration law and current proposals for major reforms of these laws. In one section of this course, the students complete a project in collaboration with the Washington Defender Association's Immigration Project, a project that seeks to defend and advance the rights of noncitizens within the criminal justice system and noncitizens facing the immigration consequences of crimes.

Juvenile Justice Seminar-- Course examines how the legal system treats juveniles who are accused of crimes. Students in this course are encouraged to volunteer for the Street Youth Legal Advocates Project by either helping to staff clinics for at-risk youth or by supporting the juvenile records sealing project.

Poverty Law – Overview of legal issues affecting poor people, including relevant background readings on poverty and access to justice, and selected problems such as housing and homelessness, education, employment issues of low-wage workers, income support and welfare reform, consumer law, family law and child-care. Open to second- and third-year students.

Property I – Analysis of the legal relationship among persons as to the ownership, transfer, and use of property from both a historical and a contemporary perspective. In one section of this traditional first year law course, the professor has required students to observe the Housing Justice Project (HJP) at King County Superior Court. The HJP provides free legal assistance to low income tenants in landlord/tenant proceedings utilizing pro bono attorneys and volunteer students.

Seminar in Contemporary Muslim Legal Systems -- In the contemporary Muslim world many governments are trying to establish legal systems that ensure economic development and the protection of human rights, while at the same time pledging to ensure that their legislation, judicial decisions and private contracts reflect Islamic norms. In this course, we will examine case studies from one or more countries that have tried to develop effective legal and economic systems while ensuring that their citizens will recognize their legal systems as "Islamic." This course addresses law reform projects and human rights promotion in the Muslim world.


Public Interest Journals


Disorient: Critical Legal Journal of Pacific Northwest:

Disorient is a student-run, on-line, interdisciplinary law journal at the University of Washington School of Law. The journal is a forum that will support the development of theory and praxis affecting those traditionally marginalized by the legal academy and dominant social formations. Disorient's primary goal is to initiate a dialogue between scholars, activists and organizations. It will expose the many intersections between the law and race, gender, sexuality and class-based oppression, and will foster change through a multidisciplinary analysis. The journal works to increase local and global cooperation, promote discussion between those working in related fields, and encourages progressive, institutional changes to confront the effects of systematic oppression. Disorient maintains a commitment to historically, socially, and politically grounded modes of critique and attempts to close the divide between transformative intellect and community engagement.


PI Career Support Center


A full-time Assistant Director for Public Service in the Career Planning Office (CPO) provides career counseling to students and graduates interested in public interest law. A Program Coordinator supports the Assistant Director for Public Service in event and program planning as needed. Additional support for students interested in public service law is provided by the Executive Director of the Gates Public Service Law Program


UWLS students participate in the Northwest Public Service Career Fair each February and a limited number of students are provided funding support to attend the annual Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair in Washington DC each October. An annual Pro Bono Honors Career Fair is held in October each year at the law school.

The School of Law celebrates Public Service Awareness Month each February providing both substantive and career-based programming about public service.

Additional public service related programming is provided throughout the school year via Social Justice Tuesdays and quarterly CPO events.


Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)


The University of Washington Law School will be administering its new Loan Repayment Assistance Program for the first time in 2010.


Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:


The Native American Law Center's Tribal Defense Clinic offers a one-year fellowship each year, renewable for an additional year to a recent graduate with an interest in practicing tribal criminal defense. The fellowship is paid by the Center with additional funds received from tribal partners, primarily the Squaxin Island and Sauk Suiattle Tribes in Washington State.


Graduate Student Funded:




Other Funding Sources:




Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:


The Gates Public Service Law Program provides full tuition, room and board and costs to 5 incoming students to the School of Law each year. The students make a commitment to practice public service law for a minimum of five years post graduation.


Graduate Student Funded




Other Funding Sources:




Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:


The Gates Public Service Law Program provides summer stipends for the participants in the scholarships program and also donates a grant through the Public Interest Law Association summer grant process each year.

The School of Law supports the student-run Public Interest Law Association effort to provide summer fellowships by donating funds in addition to the privately raised support.


Graduate Student Funded:


The student-run Public Interest law Association raises funds each year to support several summer grants to students to do public interest law work in the summer.


Other Funding Sources:




Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs


Throughout the school year the Gates Public Service Law Program teams up with different student organizations as host of an innovative programming series known as Social Justice Tuesdays (SJT). Programming includes a wide range of events such as talks by nationally recognized practitioners, films with related discussions, discussions facilitated by professors (including non-law professors), debates between professors and/or practitioners, and more.


Student Public Interest Groups


American Civil Liberties Union
American Constitution Society
Center for Human Rights & Justice
Center for Labor & Employment Justice
Disability Law Alliance
Disorient: Critical Legal Journal of the Northwest
Federalist Society
The Forum on Law & Policy
Immigrant Families Advocacy Project
Innocence Project NW-Student Chapter
Law students for Reproductive Justice
National Lawyers Guild
Public Interest Law Association
Street Youth Legal Advocates of Washington
Student Animal Legal Defense Fund.