University of Iowa College of Law

University of Iowa College of Law
290 Boyd Law Building
Iowa City, IA 52242

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Dr. Brian R. Farrell
Director, Citizen Lawyer Program
University of Iowa College of Law
189 Boyd Law Building
Iowa City, Iowa 52242

Category Type

A Formal Voluntary Program Characterized by a Referral System with Coordinator

Description of Programs

The University of Iowa College of Law's Citizen Lawyer Program (CLP) creates opportunities for law students to extend their education as future lawyers and leaders beyond the classroom and traditional clinic programs through community-based volunteer work. In partnership with judicial, nonprofit, and government partner agencies, CLP has developed and coordinates law-related Pro Bono Projects and places up to 80 law students each semester in a variety of projects focused on enhancing access to justice. New projects are developed based on student demand and as opportunities arise. Information on CLP is available online at

Location of Programs

Iowa Law's Pro Bono Projects are coordinated by the Citizen Lawyer Program.


The Citizen Lawyer Program is staffed by a Director and student research assistants. Up to 80 students are assigned to CLP's Pro Bono Projects each semester following an application process. The work of student volunteers is supervised by partner agency attorneys, with the CLP Director and research assistants serving as liaisons.

The CLP Director reports to Iowa Law's Associate Dean for Civil Engagement.


The salaries of the CLP Director and research assistants, and select program and activities, are funded through Iowa Law's operational budget. Student organizations raise additional funds for pro bono programs and activities.

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

The Philanthropy Committee of the Iowa Student Bar Association consists of representatives from each of the student organizations at the College of Law, as well as designates from the Iowa Student Bar Association. Its purpose is to serve as a platform for communicating among the student groups individual group plans for philanthropy and service projects; coordinating service projects of the various student organizations, as appropriate, to avoid duplication and to maximize community impact; providing information about opportunities for service projects, as well as facilitating assistance from the Citizen Lawyer Program, as needed, to groups' service activities; and, informally advising the Citizen Lawyer Program on its mission and activities.

The Equal Justice Foundation, a student group within the College of Law, raises money for access to justice initiatives and public interest stipends, and has sponsored alternative spring break trips in the past.

Other student groups at the University of Iowa College of Law sponsor various volunteer projects throughout the year.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

Iowa Law does not systematically collect this information. However, faculty and staff participate in a variety of pro bono activities, including volunteering with students in conjunction with several of CLP's Pro Bono Projects.


The Boyd Service Award is bestowed at graduation on students who have completed at least 100 hours of service. The award is recognized by a designation on the diploma and by wearing an honor cord at the commencement ceremony.

The Pro Bono Society is a law student group that emphasizes the importance of public service and volunteerism in the legal profession. The Pro Bono Society serves as a vehicle to assist law students seeking to earn the Boyd Service Award. Membership is an earned honor that signifies an objectively measured commitment to serving others during the school year, as well as the development of the skills and values important to a life of public service in the tradition of "pro bono publico." Students must complete 15 hours of service and attend at least one "Lawyers and Leaders" program each semester to be eligible for membership.

Community Service

The Citizen Lawyer Program works with students and student organizations to help them connect with wide variety of pro bono and community volunteering opportunities. It collects data on student service. Students volunteer with local youth groups and in the schools, at local and clothing food pantries and homeless and domestic violence shelters, doing environmental cleanup and conservation work, and organizing blood drives, among other projects.

The Class of 2015 completed nearly 10,000 hours of service (both law related and community service) over three years.

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

Public Interest Centers

Institute of Public Affairs

Larned A. Waterman Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center

Law, Health Policy, and Disability Center

National Health Law and Policy Resource Center

UI Center for Human Rights

UI Center for International Finance and Development

Public Interest Clinics

UI College of Law Legal Clinic

Practice areas: assistive technology, consumer rights, criminal defense, disability rights, domestic violence, general civil, immigration


Students arrange externships outside the clinical programs with non-profit or government legal offices under faculty supervision. Students typically earn up to six credits, four ungraded and the remaining two earned by a research paper.

Since 2006, a second type of non-clinic legal externship ("summer legal placement") for three credits has become quite popular with students. Students must spend at least 150 on-site hours with a non-profit or government legal office. The paper requirement is suspended, though students are required to complete a series of reflective writings over the summer. Up to 45 students successfully have placed each summer with nonprofit or government agencies across the country and abroad.

Classes with a Public Service Component

International Financial Institutions & Development Seminar. The University of Iowa Center for International Finance & Development (UICIFD) is a Center dedicated to the study of problems and issues in the complex world of international finance and development. Currently, the principal activity of the UICIFD is to maintain a globally-read website (, which hosts the innovative E-Book on International Finance & Development as well as other research products, such as the News & Development blog, Briefing Papers, FAQs. Seminar participants are the Center's "staff," and as such study various aspects of international finance while producing various research products for the Center's website.

Non-Profit and Philanthropic Organizations. Through the Iowa NonProfit Resource Center, students in this class work with nonprofit agencies in assisting them with start-up organizational issues.

Law and Technology Seminar. This year-long seminar, limited to 16 students, explores the existing law and literature relating to ethical issues surrounding medical research. The goal of the seminar is to produce a model statute, hopefully to be published, addressing the range of issues in this area with suggested solutions.

Service Tutorial: The Women's Prison Project (Skylark Project). In conjunction with the Iowa Coalition against Domestic Violence, up to six students work with domestic violence victims serving long-term or life sentences at Iowa Mitchellville Prison. They interview the women and help draft their commutation petitions as well as prepare the prisoners for their interviews before the Board of Parole and the Governor's office.

Health Law Tutorial. Students worked with the local nonprofit Hospice to provide legal information related to end of life legal issues

Public Interest Journals

Journal of Gender, Race & Justice

Mission Statement:

"The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice is not for the weak of heart or the timid in spirit. Feminist inquiry and critical race analysis are the touchstones of our endeavor. Our building blocks are new forms of analysis that reach beyond traditional conceptions of legal thought. We challenge our writers, our readers, and ourselves to question who we are and how the law defines us. We strive to be a transformative experience. In a spirit of openness, we explore how we are classified, stratified, ignored and singled out under the law because of our race, sex, gender economic class, ability, sexual identity and the multitude of labels applied to us. Identity is a matrix of experiences; when the law fails to recognize any one facet of our identity, both the law and the person lose invaluable dimension. Our challenge is to examine how we negotiate our identities, how the legal system negotiates them for us and how these negotiations affect our ability to attain justice.

Our conception of justice looks beyond legal rights to how fairness, equity and respect delineate the boundaries of what legal justice must, at a minimum, entail. We include all struggles against oppression within this conception. We seek to invoke a vision of justice that is without fear, a vision that allows us to be who we are as we are, without sanction or penalty. We encourage personal and social responsibility towards achieving this vision, and we welcome all viewpoints and ideas that are expressed with respect and collegiality.

Finally, we are a journal that promotes living discussion. Through our annual symposium, we will test, shape and strengthen our scholarship by bringing a myriad of experiences into the realm of legal thought. We intend to build alliances across differences, to rub ideas together and watch the sparks fly. We invite you to help us fan the flames, to set the legal community on fire."

PI Career Support Center

The College supports public interest job fairs, mentoring programs, individual public interest career counseling, public interest panels, and networking events.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

Public Interest Forgiveness Program for the Iowa Law School Foundation Loan

Applicants for this program must be employed on a full-time basis, in a law-related capacity by an organization which is exempt from federal income taxation as an organization described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, must have Iowa Law School Foundation Loan debt, must have a salary less than 125% of the "standard maintenance allowance (SMA)" for their geographical area. After one year of qualified employment applicants must provide written documentation from their employer confirming the applicant's employment for a full year and providing certification of the salary received for the full year. Eligible borrowers shall have their ILSFL forgiven at the following schedule, 25% after one year, 25% after two years (33% of the remaining balance), 50% after three years (the entire remaining balance).

Iowa Law School Foundation Loan Iowa Lawyer Forgiveness Program for the Iowa Law School Foundation Loan

The applicant must be engaged in employment performed primarily within the State of Iowa which requires a law degree and admission to the Iowa Bar and must also perform a minimum of 40 hours per year of qualifying pro bono legal services and must have Iowa Law School Foundation Loan debt. Additional factors to be considered in evaluating applications for the Pilot program will include the applicant's record of achievements at the UI college of Law, the applicant's financial need, the applicant's record of community service, and whether the applicant intends to engage in employment in a geographical area of Iowa that has a demonstrable and unmet need for lawyers or in a substantive area of the law for which there is a demonstrable and unmet need, as determined by the ILSF. The terms of forgiveness are the same as the terms of the Iowa Law Foundation Public Interest Loan Forgiveness Program.

Iowa Law School Foundation Loan Repayment Assistance Program

Provides modest financial assistance to graduates who obtain eligible public service employment and need assistance to repay loans taken during law school. Selection priorities are demonstrated commitment to public serve, need as determined by the total eligible debt to income adjusted for geographic cost of living differences and debt as determined by the total amount of eligible loan debt.

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

Public Interest Law Award

The recipient must have more than $5,000 in student loan debt, demonstrate the procurement of employment in public interest law, an area which includes but is not limited to legal assistance groups, public defenders offices, special interest and minority group advocates and civil liberties unions. The recipients starting and projected average annual salary derived from the employment described above must have a salary less than 125% of the "standard maintenance allowance (SMA) in their area. Recipients are selected by a committee comprised of a member of the establishing class, faculty and staff.

Graduate Student Funded:

Other Funding Sources:

Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

Iowa Law Foundation Public Interest Law Grant

The Iowa Law Foundation Board, at the recommendation of students and faculty, agreed that $20,000 of annual spendable earnings from non restricted endowed scholarship accounts be awarded in the form of grants to 3-5 third year students. The recipients must have demonstrated a commitment to pursing public interest work and have substantial indebtedness from student loans. If a recipient of this grant does not procure employment in public interest work their grant converts to a loan under the same terms of the ILSFL program. Recipients are selected by a committee of faculty and staff.

Graduate Student Funded

Other Funding Sources:

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

Summer Public Interest Grants

The law school offers a number of summer public interest grants, each with its own eligibility criteria which are designed to help offset reasonable out-of-pocket expenses related to the field placement. All applicants must be volunteering with a public interest or government agency. Public interest agencies include IRS Code 501(c)(3) entities, government agencies, and advocacy groups. Grants are funded by the law school and private donors.

Equal Justice Foundation (EJF) Summer Stipends

EJF students raise funds each year through a series of fundraisers. EJF manages the application and selection process and awards are based primarily on applicant's participation in EJF fundraising events and general commitment to public interest. The law foundation matches the funds raised each year by the students in the Equal Justice Foundation.

Public Interest Summer Internship Class of 1998 Fund

Recipients must be a currently enrolled law student and must demonstrate procurement of summer employment in public interest law, an area which includes Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) entities, government agencies, and advocacy groups. Projected summer employment compensation must be either low or unpaid. The applicant's level of need and the intensity of commitment to public interest law are the primary criteria for selection. Academic achievement will not be considered a factor. Recipients are selected by a committee of faculty and staff.

Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago

The law school pays half of the summer intern's salary.

Graduate Student Funded:

Other Funding Sources:

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

The "Lawyers and Leaders" series consists of workshops, lectures, and other programs that focus on pro bono traditions, leadership development, practical lawyer and life skills, and community issues.

Additionally, the law school and student organizations host a wide array of lectures and conferences focusing on many topics.

Student Public Interest Groups

Alternative Dispute Resolution Society
American Constitution Society for Law & Policy
Asian American Law Students Association
Black Law Students Association
Environmental Law Society
Equal Justice Foundation
Federalist Society
Intellectual Property Law Society
International Law Society
Iowa Campaign for Human Rights
J. Reuben Clark Law Society
Jewish Law Student Association
Latino Law Students Association
Law Students for Reproductive Justice
Middle Eastern Law Student Association
Native American Law Student Association
Organization for Women Law Students and Staff
Phi Alpha Delta
Phi Delta Phi
Pro Bono Society