Law School Pro Bono Programs
Rashida T. West, Esq.
Director, Pro Bono & Public Interest Programs
P: (215) 571.-722
Fax: (215) 571-4763
Pro Bono Graduation Requirement Program
Description of Programs
The motto of Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law, Scientia, Ars, Officium - Knowledge, Skill, Duty - reflects the goals Drexel has for its law student graduates. The third element of our school's mission, Officium, means "the duty to the public good owed by a public official." For Drexel, it is an essential element of the Law School, because it recognizes the lawyer's obligation to serve the public good by providing uncompensated legal service to people and organizations that cannot afford to retain lawyers.
" Pro Bono Publico" service, "For the Public Good," is at the heart of the legal profession. Providing pro bono service to individuals or groups traditionally underserved by the private bar is the goal of Drexel's mandatory 50-hour Pro Bono Service Requirement. Students will make an immediate impact in the world by helping those most in need. In addition, the program strives to educate students about their ethical responsibility to provide assistance and improve access to legal services throughout their professional careers. Finally, the program highlights public service opportunities that students may want to pursue as a career path.
The Pro Bono Service Requirement complements Drexel's long and proud tradition of integrating classroom experience with the real-world environment. Under close supervision, students will develop their legal skills and gain practical, hands-on, experience in a real work setting. The Pro Bono Service Requirement is a vital part of Drexel's curriculum and demonstrates the faculty and administration's commitment to the development of professionalism in its students.
In order to qualify for credit towards the requirement, the pro bono service must be law-related. In addition, students may not receive financial compensation or academic credit for providing pro bono service. Moreover, a licensed attorney or other qualified supervisor must adequately supervise and review any and all work. The service must be:
- On behalf of people who cannot afford to pay for legal services, have limited access to legal services, or are underserved by the private bar, or
- Aimed at protecting the rights of an individual or individuals in situations raising important public interest concerns and/or important rights belonging to a significant and underserved segment of the public.
Government work, including working for the district attorney or public defender (or their federal/local equivalents) qualifies for credit towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement under our definition of pro bono. Judicial clerkships and internships, however, do not qualify for credit towards the Pro Bono Service Requirement.
Location of Programs
The Pro Bono Program is administered out of the Pro Bono Service Office, which is housed within the Law School. The Pro Bono Service Requirement is one of the three prongs of Experiential Learning at Drexel Law (Pro Bono, Co-op, and Clinical Programs).
Drexel's Pro Bono Service Program is administered under the auspices of the Associate Dean for Experiential Learning. Programs are developed, implemented, coordinated, and supervised by a full-time Director for Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs.
The Pro Bono Program is fully funded by the Law School. An IOLTA Grant subsidizes a number of select Pro Bono Projects.
Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono
Currently there is no faculty pro bono requirement.
Students who significantly exceed the 50-hour requirement will receive a Pro Bono Recognition Award and be specially acknowledged in the graduation program. Students will receive a certificate based on the total number of pro bono service hours completed: Service Honors (100 - 200 hours) or Outstanding Service Honors (201+ hours). We also provide distinction at graduation for the Most Outstanding Public Interest Scholar, as well as an award for the graduating student who performed the most pro bono service hours during law school. All students who receive a pro bono award are also recognized at a public service awards ceremony.
Alternative Winter or Spring Break Projects
Law School Public Interest Programs
Rashida T. West, Esq.
Director, Pro Bono & Public Interest Programs
P: (215) 571-4722
Fax: (215) 571-4763
Public Interest Centers
PI Career Support Center
Drexel Law has a full time Career Advisor for Government and Public Interest Law in the Career and Professional Development Office to provide advice for students considering a career path in public interest law.
Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)
The purpose of the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) is to assist and support graduates who pursue careers in the public interest. This program acknowledges the fact that law student indebtedness poses a significant obstacle to students interested in public service careers and demonstrates our action in addressing this urgent problem. Given the rising cost of higher education and the accompanying debt burden, a career in the public interest is often not feasible without financial assistance. The Earle Mack School of Law created the LRAP as a way to provide our graduates with the option of considering work in lower paying public interest or public service positions by reducing some of the financial barriers that may prevent them from following this career path.
The LRAP provides law students with greater flexibility when making career decisions by offering partial loan forgiveness to applicants who work in qualifying, law-related employment in the public sector. A standing LRAP committee chooses recipients and awards are renewable annually up to the maximum number of years of participation. These forgivable loans are structured to help graduates repay a portion of their educational debt.
The Earle Mack School of Law hopes that the LRAP will have a positive impact on both our students and the legal communities in which the students practice. The goal of the program is to enable our graduates to accept jobs and continue working in the public sector while also helping the public interest organizations pursue their vital mission by recruiting, hiring and keeping the best legal talent available.
Public Service Fellowship Program
The Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University recognizes the lawyer's obligation to serve the public good and is dedicated to encouraging and supporting students to contribute to and make a difference in their communities through public service work. The law school instills in our students a sense of duty to work in the public interest throughout their legal careers with the hope that many will seek full-time public sector employment.
In recognition of and consistent with this commitment, the law school has established the Public Service Fellowship Program. The purpose of this program is to assist and support graduates with a strong commitment to public service. The Public Service Fellowship Program will provide eligible recent law school graduates with part time, paid, six-month legal positions at a qualifying public interest organization. The law school hopes that this program will have a positive impact on both our graduates and the legal communities in which the students are placed.
Drexel Law counsels students regarding fellowship opportunities and offers resources to help students identify post-graduate fellowships and awards.
The Associate Dean for Experiential Learning and the Director for Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs work closely with the Career and Professional Development Office (CPDO) to provide a strong foundation for our students who are interested in pursuing careers in public interest law. We have created a summer grant program for students taking unpaid public interest summer internships, subsidizing a significant portion of the student-run PIE Grant Auction (Public Interest Experience), and matching monies raised at the auction.
In addition, the University offers work study packages for students taking unpaid summer positions in eligible government agencies, public interest organizations, and nonprofit organizations. This funding is in addition to work-study grants available during the academic year. By working with the CPDO to maximize these work study funds, we are able to offer larger summer grants to offset students' summer expenses while working in unpaid public interest summer internships.
The Carl "Tobey" Oxholm III Summer Law Fellowship- This Fellowship is designed to support a student with a genuine interest in pursuing a career in local government service. The Fellowship, which provides a stipend of $10,000 for the summer, was created and named in honor of Tobey Oxholm, Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff of Drexel University. Prior to joining Drexel, Tobey practiced law in Philadelphia for 22 years, including distinguished service with the Office of the Philadelphia City Solicitor where he served as Chief Deputy City Solicitor for Commercial Claims.
Other- Drexel Law also counsels students regarding summer fellowship opportunities and offers resources to help students identify summer fellowships and awards.