Georgetown University Law Center
Law School Pro Bono Programs
Director of Pro Bono Programs
Office of Public Interest & Community Service Georgetown Law
600 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program characterized by a referral system with a coordinator.
Description of Programs
Georgetown Law invites all incoming J.D. law students to set an aspirational goal for service by taking the Pro Bono Pledge. The threshold for earning recognition at graduation is 50 hours of law-related volunteer work; 35 hours for second year J.D. transfer students; and 20 hours and LL.M. students. Graduates receive special or exceptional recognition if they complete 100 or 200 hours, respectively (50 or 125 for students who transfer in and 35 or 50 hours for LLM students). The Georgetown Law Pro Bono Pledge is voluntary, and there is no penalty for noncompletion.
The Georgetown Law Pro Bono Program helps students engage in service in a variety of ways. It administers the Georgetown Law Pro Bono Project, which connects students with qualifying providers to work on projects geared toward increasing access to justice. The Program also circulates a newsletter throughout the year entitled Georgetown Law Gives Back containing new pro bono opportunities and events of interest. Other avenues for pro bono engagement include Alternative Spring Break initiatives, student organization-coordinated endeavors, and qualifying projects that students identify proactively.
Location of Programs
The Pro Bono Program is administered by the Office of Public Interest and Community Service (OPICS). OPICS provides career counseling to students pursuing public interest and government employment options, and encourages and facilitates pro bono and community service by all members of the Georgetown Law community.
The Director of Pro Bono Programs develops law-related service opportunities, administers the Pro Bono Pledge, and coordinates all other aspects of the Georgetown Law Pro Bono Program.
Funded by the law school.
Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono
The Office of Public Interest and Community Service (OPICS) hosts an annual reception to recognize the public interest and pro bono accomplishments of individual students and student organizations. Students who have performed exemplary pro bono service are recognized at the reception. Additionally, students who complete the Pro Bono Pledge receive a certificate signed by the Dean and special recognition at graduation.
Alternative Winter or Spring Break Projects
Pro bono organized over winter and spring breaks has evolved in response to pressing legal needs among underrepresented populations. Georgetown Law's Human Rights Institute coordinates an annual trip to Texas to assist immigrants seeking asylum; student organizations coordinate yearly trips to New Orleans and Detroit to work with legal services providers advocating on behalf of criminal defendants, low-income homeowners, and low-wage workers; and area law schools collaborate on a DC Alternative Spring Break initiative that puts students into law-related service with local nonprofits.
Law School Public Interest Programs
Assistant Dean, Office of Public Interest and Community Service
Students in the Public Interest Law Scholars Program must complete the upper-level course: Public Interest Advocacy and Professional Responsibility: Ethics in Public Interest Practice and fulfill the upper-level writing requirement by writing on a public interest topic. Website: https://www.law.georgetown.edu/academics/jd-program/scholars-fellowships-mentor-programs/blume-public-interest-scholars-program
The Global Law Scholars Program offers 15-20 students per year the opportunity to focus on international law, with a specialized curricular track of seven courses to satisfy program requirements. Two of these courses have been created for, and are restricted to, GLS students: a first-year seminar designed to introduce participants to different career pathways through faculty and visitor presentations, and a second-year seminar focused on specialized skills sets (such as international legal research, comparative legal analysis, and international negotiations). As part of the latter, GLS students work on a major research, writing, and advocacy project on an international legal topic of their own choosing. Website: https://www.law.georgetown.edu/academics/transnational-programs/global-law-scholars-program
Students may earn a Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies by completing the Refugee Law and Policy course and five additional courses that focus on at least one of the following topics: refugee and humanitarian emergencies/disaster relief, human rights, or conflict/post-conflict related issues. Website: http://isim.georgetown.edu/academics/refugees/
Students may earn a certificate in World Trade Organization Studies by completing a basic international law course and 12 additional credits in WTO-related courses. They also must maintain an overall B average, complete a seminar paper on a WTO law subject, and participate in extracurricular activities related to WTO subjects (attend a conference, congressional or court hearing, or equivalent event each semester). Website: http://www.law.georgetown.edu/academics/centers-institutes/iiel/WTO-Studies-Certificate.cfm
The Public Interest Fellows program draws approximately 70 students per year, and requires a focused curricular track including 15 credits from the public interest curriculum cluster, an experiential learning course such as a clinic or practicum, an upperclass writing requirement on a public interest topic, and a course in regulatory or statutory interpretation. The program also offers and requires substantial co- and extra-curricular commitment to the public interest community.
In addition to the above, Georgetown has multiple course offerings in many public interest subjects, allowing students to specialize if they so desire. The areas include environmental law, family law, human rights, criminal law and procedure, employment and labor law, international/national security law, and health law, policy & bioethics.
Public Interest Centers
Georgetown Law houses over two dozen Centers & Institutes operating in the public interest sphere: https://www.law.georgetown.edu/experiential-learning/centers-institutes/. Among those is the Blume Public Interest Leadership Institute, which engages students who exhibit exceptional promise as future public leaders in a combination of academic coursework, clinical pedagogy, and tailored experiential learning opportunities: https://www.law.georgetown.edu/academics/jd-program/scholars-fellowships-mentor-programs/blume-public-interest-scholars-program/institute/.
PI Career Support Center
The mission of the Office of Public Interest and Community Service (OPICS) is to cultivate an ethic of service among the Georgetown Law community by promoting pro bono opportunities, supporting student groups, raising awareness about the access to justice gap, and fostering connections among students and the greater legal community. In addition to coordinating many of Georgetown Law’s public interest programs, OPICS is the primary career office for students interested in exploring public interest and government legal opportunities.
OPICS empowers students to achieve their professional goals through individualized counseling and through the provision of resources, recruitment and networking opportunities, and other programming designed to support the needs of all students, including those traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession. The office’s recruiting initiatives include job fairs each year, such as the Fall Public Sector Recruitment Program and the Public Sector Recruiting Program conducted jointly with George Washington University Law School. In addition, OPICS coordinates ongoing public sector resume collections and administer an extensive public sector jobs database. OPICS also administers the Public Interest Corps (PIC). PIC members have the opportunity to design, lead, and participate in programs and activities that cultivate a supportive, dynamic, and inspired public interest community within the Law Center. Early in the fall semester, students who are new to Georgetown Law have the opportunity to preview PIC events and sample programming before applications to join PIC open later in the year. To learn more about OPICS, visit https://www.law.georgetown.edu/your-life-career/career-exploration-professional-development/for-jd-students/meet-the-teams/office-of-public-interest-and-community-service/.
Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)
Information about Georgetown Law's LRAP can be found at https://www.law.georgetown.edu/admissions-aid/financial-aid/loan-repayment-assistance-program/.
Visit https://www.law.georgetown.edu/your-life-career/career-exploration-professional-development/for-jd-students/public-interest-funding/post-graduate-public-interest-fellowships/ for information about Georgetown Law postgraduate fellowships and the counseling provided to students seeking fellowships through external programs.