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Capital University Law School

Capital University Law School
303 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Mary Nienaber
Assistant Director of Professional Development and Pro Bono Coordinator
[email protected]

Category Type

A Formal Voluntary Program Characterized by a Referral System with Coordinators

Description of Programs

The Pro Bono Recognition Program seeks to encourage and recognize public service by law students who have successfully completed 50 hours or more of pro bono legal work at approved placements. Such students receive a certificate signed by the Dean and the Pro Bono Coordinator, their pro bono designation published on their academic transcripts, and recognition in the bulletin distributed at the hooding ceremony.

For this Program, pro bono legal services may include giving legal advice or resolving a legal problem through litigation, legislation, regulation, or alternative dispute resolution, but only to the extent consistent with the ethical constraints on the authorized practice of law. Participants may receive neither compensation nor academic credit for pro bono work.

Participants may work with a government body, nonprofit organization, or other entity if that entity is engaged in:

Providing legal services without fee or expectation of fee to:

  • Persons of limited means; OR
  • Charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters that are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means; OR

Providing legal services through:

  • Delivery of legal services at no fee or substantially reduced fee to individuals, groups or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties, or public rights, or charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters in furtherance of their organizational purposes, where the payment of standard legal fees would significantly deplete the organization's economic resources or would be otherwise inappropriate;
  • Delivery of legal services at a substantially reduced fee to persons of limited means; OR
  • Participation in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession.

Examples of pro bono opportunities

: Opportunities coordinated through the Legal Aid Society of Columbus

  • Brief Advice and Referral Clinics, Homeless Shelter Clinics, and YWCA Family Center Clinics: Students meet with clients, conduct an initial interview, assist the client in completing the intake form, introduce the client to the attorney, assist the client in presenting the issue, and participate in any subsequent representation as permitted by the attorney and the client, and/or assist in clinic administration.
  • Wills Clinic: Students assist clients with compiling information for end of life directives such as a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, and Organ Donation Forms, along with assisting the attorney who counsels the client and executes the documents
  • Bankruptcy Bypass Clinic: Students assist clients with compiling a record of creditors in order to send notices to discourage creditor harassment.

National Center for Adoption Law & Policy

  • Students assist with abstracting recent adoption/child welfare cases for weekly email newsletter; assisting in research for cases in which the Center participates as amicus curiae; researching current issues of adoption law and policy for and assisting in preparing responses to inquiries from families, lawyers, judges, agencies, etc.; researching and analyzing proposed adoption/child welfare related legislation, both state and federal; helping to prepare "FAQs" on adoption child/welfare issues for Center website; and updating case and statute summaries for Adoption LawSite
    • Students provide free income tax service (preparation of tax returns) during the tax season for the economically challenged, handicapped and the elderly.
    • Students assist clients in person or by phone to prepare pro se litigants for foreclosure mediation.
    • Be a graduate of Capital University Law School's Juris Doctor program;
    • Be a licensed attorney in good standing;
    • Be employed full-time in a law-related capacity (not limited to the practice of law in the strictest sense, but substantially utilizing the legal training and skills of the law school graduate);
      • By a non-profit tax exempt organization under IRS Code 501(c)(3); or
      • In government law-related jobs at the local, state or federal level;
    • Have a salary of $45,000 or less;
    • Have an outstanding law student loan balance and must not be delinquent or in default on any educational loans; and
    • Submit an LRAP application and all required documents each year.
    • Unpaid qualifying summer clerkships.
    • Low paying qualifying summer clerkships (under $10.00/hour).
    • All other qualifying clerkships.
    • Be a J.D. student who at the time of the summer clerkship is in good standing and is still enrolled at Capital University Law School (must not have graduated or transferred).
    • Secure a position with a government body, nonprofit organization, or other entity if that entity is engaged in providing legal services to persons of limited means or to charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, and educational organizations. Legal services may include giving legal advice or resolving a legal problem through litigation, legislation, regulation, alternative dispute resolution, and participation in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession, but only to the extent consistent with the ethical constraints on the authorized practice of law.
  • Volunteer Income Tax Association

    Foreclosure Mediation Preparation Project


    Location of Programs

    Office of Professional Development



    The Assistant Dean for Professional Development administers the Pro Bono Recognition Program in conjunction with the Office of Records & Registration and the Dean's Office.



    A portion of the pro bono coordinator's salary is funded through an outside grant from a private trust. Incidental administrative support is provided by the law school through the Office of Professional Development budget.


    Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects


    Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono




    Recognition is given by a transcript designation of Pro Bono Honoree and a certificate of completion.


    Community Service

    Students participating in student organizations are expected to complete community service through those organizations in order to receive school funding for their group in the next school year.


    Law School Public Interest Programs

    Contact Information

    Shawn M. Beem
    Assistant Dean
    [email protected]
    Tel (614) 236-6889


    Certificate/Curriculum Programs


    Public Interest Centers

    National Center for Adoption Law & Policy

    Center for Dispute Resolution


    Public Interest Clinics



    Capital operates an externship program under the supervision of Professor Susan Simms and the Committee on Judicial Clerkships and Externships. The program permits upper-class students to apply their knowledge of substantive law and to develop their practical lawyering skills.

    These externships include federal, state, and local courts and administrative agencies and non-profit organizations such as the Neighborhood Safety Working Group; The Justice League of Ohio; the Ohio Environment Council; the Ohio Nurses Association; the Ohio State Medical Association; the Health Policy Institute of Ohio; the Ohio CASA/GAL Association; the Equal Justice Foundation; the Legal Aid Society of Columbus; the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation; and the Ohio State Legal Services Association.

    For more information on our externship program, please contact:

    Susan Simms
    Director of the Externship Program
    Capital University Law School
    303 E. Broad St.
    Columbus, OH 43215
    Tel (614) 236-7301
    [email protected]



    Classes with a Public Service Component



    Public Interest Journals



    PI Career Support Center

    The Office of Professional Development offers students interested in Public Interest Law careers support through a variety of resources and programs. Students may meet one-on-one for career advising and planning. The Office of Professional Development annually subscribes to PSJD and is a member of Equal Justice Works. In addition, the Office of Professional Development staff assists students by paying the registration fees to attend public interest career fairs including the Midwest Public Interest Law Career Conference.



    Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

    The Capital University Law School Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) Fund was established in 2005. This fund provides loan repayment assistance to graduates who select public interest career opportunities upon graduation.

    Forgivable loans ranging from $1,200 to $3,600 per year are available to graduates of the Law School. LRAP funding is finite. There is no guarantee that every eligible applicant will be funded in a given year.

    In order to apply for possible assistance from the Law School LRAP, applicants must:


    Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

    Law School Funded:


    Graduate Student Funded:


    Other Funding Sources:


    Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

    Law School Funded:

    The National Center for Adoption Law & Policy (NCALP) Fellowship program is designed to provide students interested in this practice area with a specialized law school experience, including unique educational, extracurricular, and employment opportunities. The program was established with the goal of developing a cohort of highly trained legal advocates to advance the interests of children and their families in communities both locally and nationally.

    Many factors place children and youth at risk of involvement with our nation's delinquency and child protection court systems, including child abuse and neglect, substance abuse, mental health needs, and educational issues. Of the 900,000 children served by the child welfare system, 114,000 foster care children wait for safe, permanent homes because their biological parents' rights have been terminated. Thousands of these youths exit the foster care system without the skills needed for successful independent living, leaving them vulnerable to unemployment, homelessness, and criminal behavior.

    Successful outcomes and futures for these children and youth are dependent on talented and dedicated legal professionals acting in all capacities within our child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Well-trained, highly qualified child advocates, agency counsel, government attorneys, and juvenile judges can make all the difference between a youth's successful transition into adulthood and a youth's continued struggle in the system.

    For more information about the Fellowship program at Capital University Law School, contact:

    The National Center for Adoption Law & Policy
    Capital University Law School
    303 East Broad Street
    Columbus, Ohio 43215-3200
    [email protected]


    Graduate Student Funded


    Other Funding Sources:


    Summer Fellowships

    Law School Funded:

    Capital University Law School offers a Public Service Summer Fellowship using funds raised by students through a public and silent auction each spring.

    The purpose of the Public Service Summer Fellow Fund is to provide stipends to qualifying students who work during the summer at legal jobs with public interest organizations that are not otherwise able to afford summer law clerks.


    Graduate Student Funded:


    Other Funding Sources:

    Equal Justice Works Summer Corps Program www.equaljusticeworks.or

    Ohio State Bar Association Litigation Section Public Service Internship Initiative


    Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs


    Student Public Interest Groups

    Environmental Law Society