Columbia Law School
Law School Pro Bono Programs
Assistant Director, Pro Bono and Summer Programs
Pro Bono Graduation Requirement Program
Description of Programs
Columbia Law School’s mandatory pro bono program, which was adopted in response to a student initiative in 1992, ensures that every student devotes at least 40 hours to public interest law service between spring semester of 1L year and March 1 of 3L year.
Location of Programs
Social Justice Initiatives is a free-standing department of the Law School that offers public interest career counseling and programming and administers the Pro Bono Program.
A full-time employees of Social Justice Initiatives is involved in the administration of the Pro Bono Program.
The Pro Bono Program is funded by the law school and outside funding.
Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono
There is not a formal faculty pro bono policy, but the annual report of the faculty to the Dean of the Law School includes a request for information about pro bono service.
The annual Public Interest Honors Dinner is a community event held in April in which the Law School honors all students who show significant dedication to public interest and public service including those who have been leaders in pro bono service throughout their time in law school.
All pro bono hours, mandatory and voluntary, are reported on student transcripts.
Pro bono service is considered favorably by the committees that award public interest postgraduate fellowships and enhanced LRAP (Loan Repayment Assistance Program) packages.
Alternative Winter or Spring Break Projects
The Sidley Austin LLP Spring Break Pro Bono Caravans are a popular way for students to immerse themselves in real legal work. Teams of Columbia Law School students spend their spring break week working at legal services and public interest organizations across the U.S. and abroad, gaining invaluable field experience and hands-on training. They also provide much-needed support to host organizations, which are able to assist more clients and complete more cases in a week than they are sometimes able to accomplish in a year.
Law School Public Interest Programs
Erica Smock, Dean for Social Justice Initiatives
Columbia encourages every student to create the curricular program that best satisfies their individual needs and interests. Information and encouragement to explore public interest courses and opportunities begins when students arrive their 1L year - public interest faculty and students speak during Orientation. There are many opportunities to learn more throughout students’ time at Columbia. Legal clinics and the Pro Bono Program offer informational panels each semester. Individual counseling is provided by faculty members, Social Justice Initiatives and Student Services.
Public Interest Centers
PI Career Support Center
Public interest career advice is provided to all students through 1:1 career counseling, career fairs, and professional development programs offered during the academic year.
Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)