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California Western School of Law

California Western School of Law
225 Cedar Street
San Diego, CA 92101

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Bhashini Weerasinghe, Esq.
Assistant Director of Pro Bono & Public Service
[email protected]


Category Type

Formal Voluntary Program Characterized by a Referral System with Coordinator


Description of Programs

The Pro Bono Program was established in 1991 by the Faculty and Administration of California Western School of Law in cooperation with the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program. The Program provides law students the opportunity to gain valuable legal experience while simultaneously helping to address the unmet legal needs of disadvantaged or underrepresented individuals and the nonprofit organizations that serve those individuals. California Western’s Career & Professional Development Office (CPDO) facilitates the Pro Bono Program in which participating students gain career shaping legal training in multiple organizations around San Diego and elsewhere in a wide variety of law fields, along with deriving satisfaction from serving the public. The Pro Bono Program recognizes two types of volunteer legal service: (1) pro bono legal service dedicated to the needs of persons of limited means with nonprofit organizations, government agencies, or private interests; and (2) pro bono legal service with nonprofit organizations working in other areas of the law. The Pro Bono Program helps participating students establish their commitment to the American Bar Association Model Rule 6.1, which encourages all lawyers to provide at least 50 hours of pro bono service annually.


Location of Programs

Career & Professional Development Office



The Assistant Director of Pro Bono & Public Service is also a full-time career counselor in the Career & Professional Development Office (CPDO). The Assistant Dean of CPDO provides additional oversight to the Pro Bono Program.



There is no separate funding for the Pro Bono Program.


Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono




Each Spring, students who have met the minimum 50 hours of pro bono or public service in the preceding March - February time frame, are invited to a celebration with the Dean, distinguished members of the bench and bar, faculty, staff, and public interest organization representatives. At the celebration, students are inducted into the Pro Bono Honors Society and/or Public Service Honors Society, presented with certificates signed by the Dean, and for the Pro Bono Honors Society inductees, presented with a Wiley W. Manuel Certificate from the California Lawyers Association. In addition, students receive a notation on their academic transcript and are given graduation regalia.


Spring or Winter Alternative Break for Pro Bono

CWSL is a trimester program that does not have an official spring break. However, students are encouraged to participate in pro bono opportunities throughout the calendar year, including winter and summer breaks.


Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Bhashini Weerasinghe, Esq.
Assistant Director of Pro Bono & Public Service
[email protected]

Certificate/Curriculum Programs


PI Career Support Center

The Assistant Director of Pro Bono & Public Interest is a full-time career counselor in the Career & Professional Development Office. She regularly meets with students to help provide information on public interest opportunities, guidance with career path decisions, and programing related to public interest jobs.


Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

Graduates who work for legal aid, legal services, or other nonprofit advocacy and policy organizations can qualify for loan repayment assistance. The Adrianne Baker Fellowship is California Western’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program. Award amounts are determined based on the number of qualified applicants and the availability of funds. Availability of funds may vary annually. To be eligible students must meet the following requirements:

  1. Graduates must apply in the ten years immediately following their graduation from the J.D. program.
  2. Graduates must be employed or entering full-time employment in a law or law-related position for a legal aid or legal services organization or a nonprofit advocacy or policy organization that qualifies for tax exemption under section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.Government employees are not eligible.
  3. Graduates must have a minimum of $50,000 in certified law school debt. 

The Adrianne Baker Fellowship committee considers the following when distributing awards: Financial need; Commitment to the public interest; The number of applicants; The availability of present and future funds; The need for continuation of the Loan Repayment Assistance Program in the future; And any other relevant factors. Previous recipients may re-apply, but their previous awards will be considered in the awarding process. The ideology of the organization by which the graduate is employed will not be considered in determining eligibility. Applicants who are selected to receive an award will be notified during the fall. Please contact the Financial Aid Office with questions about the program or application.


Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards



 Updated 4/10/2024