Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Ohio State University
Michael E. Moritz College of Law
55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Cybele E. Smith
Public Service and Public Interest Programs

Category Type

Formal Voluntary Program Characterized by Administrative Support for Student Group Projects

Description of Programs

The Public Service Fellow Program at Moritz College of Law recognizes students who volunteer legal service to a non-profit (501)(c)(3) organization or to a governmental agency. Fellows will be recognized at the Honors Convocation, which precedes the Hooding Ceremony, and the PSF designation will be added to student fellows' transcripts. There are four levels of distinction:

  • The Public Service Fellow will be given to students who accumulate between 50 and 149 hours of volunteer legal service.
  • The Public Service Fellow with Recognition will be given to students who accumulate between 150 and 249 hours of volunteer legal service.
  • The Public Service Fellow with Dean's Special Recognition will be given to students who accumulate between 250 and 449 hours of volunteer legal service.
  • The Public Service Fellow with the Dean's Highest Honors will be given to students who accumulate 450 or more hours of volunteer legal service.

Location of Programs

Career Services


The Director of Public Service and Public Interest Programs is housed in Career Services and reports to the Assistant Dean of Career Services. The Director administers the Public Service Fellow Program and advises students who are interested in public interest and government sector jobs, honors programs, and fellowships.


Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

Dispute Resolution and Youth Program – This program strives to teach mediation, negotiation, and general conflict management skills to children in middle and high schools around Columbus. The main goal of the program is to show youth that there are constructive ways to solve problems through talking, listening, understanding, and collective problem solving.

Mediation and Youth – Law students teach Columbus Public School students how to be peer mediators. They also design the peer mediation program for the school and help the school to implement it.

Pro Bono Research Group (PBRG)– Endowed by an alumnus, this program provides research assistance to Legal Services and Legal Aid attorneys throughout Ohio. Second and third year Research Fellows conduct quality research and gain practical legal experience. In addition, PBRG sponsors events that promote public interest law, including the Frank Woodside III Speaker Series, an annual poverty law symposium.

Street Law Program– This program provides opportunities for law students to visit local high schools to teach classes in basic elements of the law which affects all citizens in daily life. Topics include contracts, landlord/tenant and criminal law. Law students also stage a mock trial in which high school students participate.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) – VITA is a program through which law students help lower-income residents and non-residents prepare their federal income tax returns. Training for the VITA program is done in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service and College of Law tax professors.

Environmental Law Association (ELA) offers students an opportunity to discuss issues in environmental law with area practitioners working for regulatory agencies, advocacy groups, and private practice.The ELA sponsors a series of speakers and regular outdoor activities, such as canoe trips. Additionally, the ELA aims to assist students in obtaining summer and career employment in the environmental law field, work with other university resources to promote environmental activities, and advocates for increased opportunities for the study of environmental law.

ABILITY both educating students and the community about disability discrimination and also getting out into the community and helping to reduce that discrimination in positive and meaningful ways: such as getting involved with local organizations that assist persons with disabilities within the law school and the greater community, as well as assisting with the upcoming election in a way that would enable those with disabilities to more easily vote.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

For information please contact Associate Dean Joseph B. Stulberg,


At various levels of donated hours, Public Service Fellows are recognized at the College's Hooding and Honors Convocation ceremonies. Also honored are Pro Bono Publico honorees, Equal Justice Works and Skadden Fellows.

Community Service

Each year Moritz student groups perform hundreds of hours of community service in schools, by helping citizens complete tax forms, by raising and donating money to help victims of disasters in the US and abroad, and a variety of other service projects. To see a listing of our numerous and active student groups go to:

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Cybele E. Smith
Public Service and Public Interest Programs


Certificate/Curriculum Programs

Certificate in Dispute Resolution - The purpose of the Certificate in Dispute Resolution is to provide our graduates expertise in the dispute resolution field. Demand for lawyers with dispute resolution expertise has grown steadily over the last decade. The use of dispute resolution processes increasingly is part of the practice of law. For information see,

Certificate in Children Studies at the Michael E. Moritz College of Law- The Moritz College of Law is the only top-fifty law school in the country to offer a specialized certificate in children studies. For information see,


Public Interest Centers

The Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies at The Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law is committed to the promotion of interdisciplinary research, teaching, and public outreach designed to shed light on the nature and operation of law and legal institutions, as well as the impacts of law on society and culture.

The Center embodies the conviction that no single disciplinary perspective is adequate for understanding these issues, and that multidisciplinary approaches are essential to address the social opportunities and challenges in which law can play a constructive role.


Public Interest Clinics

The Clinical Programs at the Moritz College of Law provides an approach to clinical education that is distinctive among American law schools. Since 1935, the faculty at the college has recognized that problem solving, factual investigation, counseling, negotiation, and litigation skills are best learned by combining the actual practice of law, in which students take responsibility for their own cases, with an intensive academic experience in the classroom. Moritz typically conducts each of these clinics with a two-person faculty team. The teams both provide expertise in the theory and doctrine of a particular area of law and help students develop hands-on legal experience. Under the guidance and mentoring of this faculty team, law students get a taste of the satisfactions and challenges of a legal career.

The American Bar Association recognizes that clinical programs are an essential component of legal education. Our graduates realize that, too. When polled about the value of these practical classes, more than two-thirds of Moritz Law alumni recommended that all law students take at least one clinical course. Likewise, employers value the practical training clinic graduates bring with them to the practice of law.

Moritz Law students may begin taking clinical courses in their second year. In the Mediation Practicum, they serve as court-appointed mediators in pending cases, helping parties resolve cases ranging from back pay demanded by immigrant workers to child care disputes between divorcing parents. Another option for second-year students is the Legislation Clinic, in which they work with leaders of the Ohio General Assembly and other key legislative players, assisting them with research, analysis, and monitoring of the lawmaking process.

Third-year students who meet the Supreme Court of Ohio's internship requirements may enroll in courses that permit them to represent clients under the supervision of Moritz Law faculty, all licensed attorneys. Students may choose from among four litigation clinics: civil, criminal prosecution, criminal defense, and justice for children.

In recent years, students in these clinics have represented clients in both federal and state cases. Two of the cases in the Civil Clinic have gone to the U.S. Supreme Court, and clinic students have been crucial in preparing briefs and arguments. Another case involved a five-day jury trial in federal court, tried almost entirely by Moritz Law students.

In the Criminal Defense and Prosecution Clinics, students regularly appear in local courts in misdemeanor cases, learning how to prepare witnesses, negotiate plea bargains, and try criminal cases. Students in the Justice for Children Practicum not only represent minors in the local juvenile court, but have also filed state Supreme Court amicus curiae briefs addressing groundbreaking issues affecting children.



Each semester, the Moritz College places approximately 25 students as judicial externs to work in judges' chambers. Judges participating in the program include justices on the Supreme Court of Ohio, federal district and appellate court judges, federal magistrate judges, federal bankruptcy judges, and county domestic relations and juvenile court judges. Over the past few years, the program has expanded to include Commissions of the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, and the Ohio Judicial Conference. Judicial externships provide excellent educational opportunities, including opportunities to glimpse the workings of important courts from the inside, interaction with distinguished judges, and engagement in supervised research and writing. Judicial externs attend several classes at the College, in which they are exposed to a range of topics, including the variety of judicial experiences of their classmates in the program and ethical issues specific to the judicial context. For more details go to


Classes with a Public Service Component

Children's Law

Civil Rights

Disability Law

Immigration and Asylum Law

Non-Profit Organizations

Racial Justice/Race Theory

Women's Rights/ Gender and the Law


Public Interest Journals


PI Career Support Center

The Moritz College has a Director of Public Service and Public Interest Programs, (housed in the Career Services Office) as well as a faculty public interest liaison, who serves as advisor to related student groups. All career counselors are kept up to date on public interest opportunities and counsel in that area, while the Director focuses on direct legal service placements, government programs and entry level hiring, post-graduate fellowships and judicial clerkships, as well as serving as the Loan Repayment Assistance Program Coordinator. The Career Service Office subscribes to PSLAWNET, the Government Honors & Internship Handbook, and a variety of other online and print resources, and pays the registration fees for interested students to attend off-campus public interest career fairs such as the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair in Washington DC, and the Midwest Public Interest Law Career Conference in Chicago, to name a few. Some travel reimbursement has been available for attending interviews and career fairs out of state, and will be reviewed annually to see if funds are still available. Public Interest Opportunity Forum held annually on-campus in early spring for all students.


Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

See LRAP Policy


Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:


Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:


Graduate Student Funded


Other Funding Sources:


Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:


Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:

Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) fellows are selected by PILF membership annually for summer stipends to work in the public interest and public sector.


Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Distinguished Practitioners in Residence in Business Law course series was launched in the fall of 2005. This program brings to Moritz Law judges and practitioners as adjunct professors to teach one-credit, concentrated courses in advanced aspects of business law.

Election Law @ Moritz is a web publication that covers developments in the law of election administration-- laws dealing with voter registration, voter ID, early and absentee voting, provisional balloting, poll workers and polling place procedures, recounts and election contests, and other related issues. Our primary target audience includes lawyers and legal scholars who focus on these issues, as well as journalists in the elections field. Through our work, we hope to help this audience better identify and understand the true issues confronting the world of election administration

Moot Court Program: During the first semester of their second year, all students must participate in the Moot Court Program by satisfactorily completing Appellate Advocacy I. In Appellate Advocacy I, students write an appellate brief on a case under the supervision of Professor Mary Beth Beazley and practicing attorneys. Students then argue their case before panels of judges, which may include faculty members, practicing attorneys and third-year students. Appellate Advocacy I is required of all second-year students. Students receive two semester hours of credit. Moot Court Program web site

Program on Law and Leadership: Established in the fall of 2007, the Program on Law and Leadership is the umbrella for all activities related to leadership at the Moritz College of Law. We are deeply committed to the idea that leadership education is a lifelong endeavor combining theoretical knowledge, practice, and applied skills.

Justice for Children Project: The Justice for Children Project engages in research and law reform while providing law students with exciting opportunities to explore the legal issues pertaining to children.

Mentoring and More @ Moritz serves as a bridge between the theory and the practice of law. Students learn by example from mentors who care deeply about improving law and its administration, have high expectations for themselves and their colleagues in the profession and are willing to help guide those who follow them into the profession. Students participating in the mentoring program are placed in mentoring groups comprised of 3 to 5 students with at least 2 mentors. Mentoring assignments are made over the summer and each mentoring group is based on student interest and mentor background/practice area. Throughout the academic year, mentoring groups are invited to luncheons held at the Moritz Barrister club featuring a prominent speaker addressing pressing issues and current trends in the law, followed by discussion between mentors, students, faculty and guests. Attending at least three of these lunches is a minimum requirement to participate in the program.

Frank Woodside III Speaker Series: Pro Bono Research Group (PBRG) provides research assistance to Legal Services and Legal Aid attorneys throughout Ohio. Second and third-year Research Fellows conduct quality researches akin to the law journals and gain practical legal experience like that provided by the clinical programs. In addition, PBRG sponsors events that promote public interest law, including the Frank Woodside III Speaker Series, an annual poverty law symposium.

The David H. Bodiker Lecture Series on Criminal Justicewas established at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in February 2008 to honor the spirit, dedication, and passion of David H. Bodiker, who served as the Ohio Public Defender from 1994 until his retirement in December 2007. The purpose of The David H. Bodiker Lecture Series is to promote, improve, and advance the highest level of academic and professional interest in protecting the constitutional rights of the defendant in the criminal justice system through an annual lecture series at The Moritz College of Law. Each year the featured lecturer will be a nationally known authority who will make a presentation to law students and interested professionals at The Moritz College of Law. The lecture will be published in the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law .

Lawrence Negotiation Competition: the winners of this weeklong, annual competition move on to Regional and National Negotiations Competitions, which the American Bar Association conducts. Working in conjunction with the Moritz Moot Court and Lawyering Skills Program, the competition's administrative arm, the Program on Dispute Resolution enriches the participants' experience in two ways. First, the program hosts a speaker with a distinguished career as a negotiator. Second, the program conducts a negotiation workshop for students who have no prior experience in negotiating. These events, together with the competition itself, create an engaging and stimulating learning experience for all participants. Second- and third-year Moritz students may participate the competition and all members of the Moritz community are welcome to attend the various events listed. Those students pursuing the Certificate in Dispute Resolution may earn Externship hours through their participation.

The Schwartz Lecture on Dispute Resolution was established in 1992 as a result of the generosity of the late Stanley Schwartz Jr. '47 and the Schwartz family. Each lecture is published in the interdisciplinary Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution , in keeping with Mr. Schwartz's interest in the promotion of scholarly publication in the area of dispute resolution.


Student Public Interest Groups

Advocates For Children: Sponsors a needy local family during the holidays and collects toys and money to be able to deliver items of clothing, toys and food to family.

International Justice Mission: In pursuing the work of justice, the chapter sponsors events at the law school and in the Columbus community to raise awareness of international human rights abuses, organize advocacy and intervention efforts on behalf of victims of that abuse, and raises money to support the International Justice Mission in its work abroad.

The Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) is a non-partisan, nonprofit student organization committed to reducing the financial barriers to working in public interest law. PILF does so by offering summer fellowships to law students who wish to work in the public sector and by educating students about the rewards of pursuing public interest careers.