William and Mary Law School

William and Mary
Law School
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Robert E. Kaplan
Associate Dean and Professor of the Practice
William & Mary Law School
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, Virginia 23187-8795

Category Type

Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program Characterized by a Referral System with Coordinators

Description of Programs

Pro bono service takes many forms at William & Mary, including:

Student Legal Services: Law students assist and provide referrals for members of the William & Mary community.

Students for the Innocence Project: Assisting the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project to exonerate wrongly-convicted inmates, students participate in investigation and research of claims of actual innocence.

Wills for Seniors: Students work with attorneys from the law firm of Williams Mullen to conduct intake interviews and help draft, execute, and witness wills and advance medical directives for low-income clients referred by the Peninsula Agency on Aging.

Wills for the Arts: Students work with attorneys from the law firm of Williams Mullen to conduct intake interviews and help draft, execute, and witness wills and advance medical directives for low-income performing artists.

Students also provide substantial unpaid, credit-bearing legal service through externship and clinical programs.

The range and breadth of student nonlegal community service is as diverse as our students themselves. They volunteer on campus, in greater Williamsburg, in their home communities, and throughout the United States and the world. Indicative of student volunteerism is their participation in the Law School's Community Service Program (CSP), through which students pledge at least 35 hours of community service. Students who satisfy their pledges are recognized at the graduation awards ceremony and receive a certificate.

Location of Programs

All programs, except credit-bearing clinics, are administered through the Office of Externships and Public Service. Credit-bearing clinics are administered by the Clinics Office.


The program is managed by the Associate Dean and Professor of the Practice. Credit-bearing clinics are administered by the Clinics Office.


Funding for staff and programmatic activities is provided through the Law School operating budget. Some clinics also receive grant funding.

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

A list of student run groups, including those focusing on pro bono and specialized law education projects, is at

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

Members of the faculty and administration provide pro bono service, but that service is not tracked formally. Some examples are available at


The Virginia State Bar honored the volunteer attorneys and students of William & Mary's Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic with the Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Pro Bono Award.

The Law School annually nominates a student for the Virginia State Bar Oliver White Hill Law Student Pro Bono Award. The state bar selects one recipient among all Virginia law schools. William & Mary has had numerous recipients since the award was implemented.

At a ceremony during graduation weekend, certificates are awarded to members of the graduating class who have satisfied the Law School’s voluntary pro bono/community service goal.

Graduation awards for which public service is a criterion include the Ewell Award, the George Wythe Award, and the Thurgood Marshall Award.

Community Service

Information on student organizations that have a community service mission and/or sponsor community service activities is available at

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Robert E. Kaplan
Associate Dean and Professor of the Practice
William & Mary Law School
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, Virginia 23187-8795

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

We do not have a public interest-specific curriculum track or academic certificate program.

Public Interest Centers

See for information about public interest centers.


Public Interest Clinics

Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation
Domestic Violence Clinic
Family Law Clinic
Federal Tax Clinic
Immigration Clinic
Innocence Project Clinic
Special Education Advocacy Clinic
Lewis B. Puller, Jr., Veterans Benefits Clinic
Virginia Coastal Policy and Law Clinic

See for information about public interest clinics or contact Patty Roberts, Director of Clinical Programs, at or 757.221.3821.



See for information about public interest externships.

Classes with a Public Service Component

Faculty often infuse public service issues into classroom discussion. A representative list of classes is available at

Public Interest Journals

Scholarly work in William & Mary's journals sometimes encompasses public interest issues. See for information about journals

PI Career Support Center

Public interest and government employers interview on-campus and at our off-campus interview programs in Atlanta, Boston, , Dallas, Washington DC, and New York. Our students also participate in annual off-campus interview programs exclusively for government and public interest employers, including the fall Equal Justice Works Career Fair and the spring Government and Public Interest Interview Program.

Through individual advising, the professionals in the Office of Career Services (OCS) devote substantial time to helping students and graduates secure public service jobs. Students work for government agencies, public interest organizations, and judges during the summer. Graduates also obtain those types of positions.

William & Mary is a member of PSJD (; our students and graduates therefore have access to the many resources available there. The OCS website and library include resources helpful for students considering public interest and government careers. OCS sponsors programs featuring government and public interest lawyers. The office also conducts workshops about how to secure summer and post-graduate public service jobs in the U.S. and abroad.

OCS coordinates the Law School’s Public Service Post-Graduate Fellowship Program

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

See for information about William & Mary's LRAP

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

William & Mary Law School’s Public Service Post-Graduate Fellowship (PGF) Program provides stipends to a select number of J.D. graduates who, after graduation and completion of the bar exam, with one of the following eligible organizations.

  • civil legal services offices;
  • public defenders;
  • prosecutors;
  • federal, state and local government agencies;
  • 501(c)(3) and other non-profit organizations;
  • non-U.S., non-profit organizations with a public service mission; and legislative offices.

Students apply for funding through the PGF Program during the spring of their 3L year and are selected through a rigorous and competitive application process.

Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:


Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

The Bell and Lowance scholarships are awarded based, in part, on commitment to public service. William & Mary law students also participate in the America Reads Challenge, which provides paid reading tutors for preschool and elementary students.

Graduate Student Funded


Other Funding Sources:


Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

Approximately 100 students receive summer public service fellowships annually. Law School funding sources include the Law School budget, money allocated by the university, and law school endowments.

Graduate Student Funded:

The William & Mary Public Service Fund (PSF), a student organization, raises money for summer public service fellowships and loan repayment assistance.

Other Funding Sources:

Alumni and friends of William & Mary Law School have established funds to support summer fellowships. The Law School also receives grants for summer fellowships from the Virginia Law Foundation and the Virginia State Bar's Criminal Law Section.

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

The Law School hosts many speakers each year. They run the gamut from prominent senior scholars who deliver named lectures to more junior scholars with fresh perspectives who participate in conferences such as the Supreme Court Preview and the Brigham Kanner Property Rights Conference, to our own faculty who deliver the Blackstone and St. George Tucker lectures. Judges, practicing lawyers, and public figures also frequently appear as lecturers and conference panelists. Some events have a designated subject matter (for example, international human rights, national security, election law, civil liberties, post-conflict justice); others are designed based on the intellectual imagination and professional backgrounds of the participants. Speakers frequently meet with students in small groups to facilitate networking and establishing professional contacts.

Our students play a pivotal role in the richness of intellectual life at the Law School. All lectures and programs are open to student attendance, and students often help research and organize events

Student Public Interest Groups

Student organizations with a public interest mission and/or that sponsor public interest activities are included in the list at