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Roger Williams University School of Law

Roger Williams University
School of Law
Ten Metacom Avenue
Bristol, RI 02809

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Eliza Vorenberg
Director of Pro Bono & Community Partnerships
[email protected]

Suzanne Harrington-Steppen, Esq.
Associate Director of Pro Bono Programs 401-254-4559
[email protected]


Category Type

Pro Bono Graduation Requirement Program


Description of Programs

Fifty hours of uncompensated, law-related pro bono is required for graduation. (The requirement was raised to 50 hours for the class of 2012; previous classes had a 20 hour requirement). The 50 hours must be completed 30 days in advance of the anticipated graduation date. Students may not receive academic credit for their service.

The Feinstein Center's Director of Pro Bono & Community Partnerships and Associate Director of Pro Bono Programs administer the school's pro bono experiential learning requirement. They create projects for students by developing community partnerships and relationships with the local legal community. Students may select a pro bono project through a list of approved placements or may create their own projects, but all projects must be approved in advance. Some pre-approved projects are group projects at the law school, with a regular training component. Others are at various organizations under the supervision of attorneys or other appropriate staff of the agencies. Students are required to evaluate the experience and complete a journal about their pro bono work, what they learned, and whether or not it influenced the likelihood that they will continue to offer pro bono assistance in the future.

The Center also administers an innovative, pro bono program called the Pro Bono Collaborative (PBC). The Pro Bono Collaborative partners private law firm attorneys and law students with community-based organizations to offer pro bono legal assistance to low-income people and the organizations that serve them. Many students fulfill their pro bono requirement through participation in the PBC.


Location of Programs

The pro bono requirement is administered by the Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education at the School of Law. 



The Director of the Feinstein Center directs the public interest externship programs, and oversees the other Externship Programs. The Director of Pro Bono & Community Partnerships and the Associate Director of Pro Bono Programs direct the mandatory pro bono program and develop and oversee pro bono opportunities. The Director of the Feinstein Center, Director of Pro Bono & Community Partnerships and Associate Director of Pro Bono Programs share responsibility for public interest and pro bono programming and for advising the public interest student group. The Director of Pro Bono & Community Partnerships directs the Pro Bono Collaborative and she and the Associate Director of Pro Bono Programs administer the Pro Bono Collaborative. The Center has a Pro Bono & Experiential Learning Administrator who provides staff support for all of the Center's work. The Center also occasionally uses undergraduate work-study students to assist with a variety of administrative tasks.



The Center was endowed by a generous grant from the Feinstein Foundation. The annual budget for the Center is approximately $474,032.00 (including benefits). This figure includes salaries of the Director of the Feinstein Center, the Director of Pro Bono and Community Partnerships, the Associate Director of Pro Bono Programs, and the Pro Bono & Experiential Learning Administrator and operating expenses. Funding for the PBC is provided by the law school, private donors, law firm contributions, an event, and other fundraising activities.


Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

Alternative Spring Break The Association for Public Interest Law sponsors a robust Alternative Spring Break program in which students spend their spring break providing legal assistance in conjunction with pro bono and legal services programs all over the country. In 2014, approximately 50 students traveled to 6 different states to work on 10 different projects. Students have traveled to the Gulf Coast, New Jersey, New York, and Pittsburgh in addition to working on environmental justice issues in Tennessee.


Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

During the summer and Fall of 2020, two faculty members represented approximately 50 immigrant detainees in a federal class action brought by the ACLU to release ICE detainees at risk of contracting COVID19. Some faculty members take occasional cases on a pro bono basis.



Students who complete 100 hours of uncompensated law-related pro bono activity, that is not for academic credit, receive a certificate at the law school’s graduate reception. A Public Service Award is granted to a student or students who have been exemplary in serving the community. A Pro Bono Collaborative Award is granted to "a student or students who demonstrate professionalism, collaborative spirit and exemplary commitment to serving the community and promoting justice for the underrepresented through their PBC work."

Public Service Award

Pro Bono Collaborative Award

Clinical Legal Education Association Clinic Award

Clinical Legal Education Association Externship Award

Kathleen M. Birt Memorial Conflict Resolution Prize

Association of Corporate Counsel Northeast Chapter Law Student Ethics Award

All students who have been recognized for 100 or more hours of pro bono and the winners of the above awards are listed in the commencement program.


Community Service


Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Laurie Barron
Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education
[email protected]
(401) 254-4653


Certificate/Curriculum Programs


Public Interest Centers

The Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education  - The Center runs the Pro Bono Collaborative (partnering law firms and private attorneys, community organizations, and law students together to work on pro bono projects), several Externship Programs (Environmental and Land Use, Judicial, Government and Prosecution, Public Interest, D.C. Semester in Practice, New York Pro Bono Scholars Program), a Mandatory Pro Bono Experiential Learning Requirement Program (law-related, uncompensated, not-for-credit), an Alternative Spring Break Program, the Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program, and is involved in many community partnerships through our public interest and pro bono programs.

Marine Affairs Institute  - RWU Law's Marine Affairs Institute, in partnership with Rhode Island Sea Grant and University of Rhode Island, is a comprehensive clearinghouse for marine law and policy, engaged in preparing the next generation of marine law professionals and convening marine law and policy professional events. As home of the Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program, the Institute engages students as Sea Grant Law Fellows to do research and analysis on marine law issues for constituent organizations. Students can also simultaneously earn a masters' degree in marine affairs from URI through the joint degree program.


Public Interest Clinics

RWU Law has a Criminal Defense Clinic and an Immigration Clinic.



Public Interest, Judicial, Environmental and Land Use, Corporate Counsel, Government and Prosecution, D.C. Semester-in-Practice, New York Pro Bono Scholars Program, and occasional pop-up externships (e.g., Eviction Defense Spring 2021)


Classes with a Public Service Component


Public Interest Journals


PI Career Support Center

Law students may attend the Equal Justice Works and the NYU Public Interest job fairs. 


Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

We have had a PILRAP program since 2008. We cover alumni working directly with low income clients with civil or criminal matters in non-profits. The fund will pay up to $15,000 to cover the Income Based Repayment Amount, in an amount of up to $4000/year, until the maximum amount is reached. As of June 2020, we had awarded approximately $490,000 to 60 alumni.


Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

RWU Law partners with the RI Center for Justice, a civil legal services non-profit which does not receive LSC funding. The Center offers two, two-year, paid fellowships each year that are reserved for RWU Law graduates.


Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:

Skadden has awarded one fellowship to a 2019 RWU Law graduate.


Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

Public Interest Scholarships - Public Interest Scholarships are awarded to students who not only show strong academic promise but who also have shown a strong commitment to public interest work and a willingness to enter into public interest law after graduation. These scholarships are awarded at the time of admission.


Graduate Student Funded


Other Funding Sources:


Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

RWU Law funds summer stipends for otherwise unpaid public interest summer jobs.


Graduate Student Funded:


Other Funding Sources:

The Association of Public Interest Law contributes funds toward the summer stipend program by raising money at an annual auction.


Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Pro Bono Celebration Week - every October during the ABA's Pro Bono Celebration Week, the Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education provides pro bono programming, including relevant speakers, films, student activities, and pro bono opportunities. In addition the Center uses marketing and social media to publicize the justice gap, the need for pro bono help and the school's celebration events.


Student Public Interest Groups

Association for Public Interest Law, National Lawyers Guild