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, J.D.
Director, Pro Bono and Community Partnerships
Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education
Ten Metacom Avenue
Bristol, Rhode Island 02809
P: (401) 254-4597  
Fax: (401) 254-4540

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 through 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 Executive Director of the Feinstein Center directs the public interest and judicial 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 Executive 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 Coordinator who provides staff support for all of the Center's work and coordinates and plans the annual Public Interest Auction with oversight from the Center's Executive Director. The Center also uses several 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 $332,000 (including benefits). This figure includes salaries of the Executive Director of the Feinstein Center, the Pro Bono & Experiential Learning Coordinator and a portion of the salaries of the Director of Pro Bono and Community Partnerships and the Associate Director of Pro Bono Programs, and operating expenses. The Pro Bono Collaborative budget is approximately $150,000. 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

Faculty members are involved in the training and supervision for some of the pro bono projects, including some of the projects offered through the Pro Bono Collaborative.

The school's faculty handbook states in Section 110, Community Service: "The School of Law also encourages Faculty to engage in activities which improve the administration of justice and the good of society. Such activities include, by way of illustration, pro bono representation of individuals or groups unable to afford legal assistance, service to the judiciary and participation in charitable pursuits." There is some recognition of pro bono service in the retention, promotion, and tenure process, and periodic notifications of faculty community service are circulated to the faculty by the law school administration.


Students who complete 100 hours of uncompensated law-related pro bono activity, that is not for academic credit, receive a certificate at our annual "Feinstein Center Reception" held to thank our Public Interest Externship Supervisors and our Public Service and Pro Bono Supervisors. A Public Service Award is granted to one student who has 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 Award


Kathleen M. Birt Memorial Conflict Resolution Prize

Association of Corporate Counsel Northeast Chapter Law Student Ethics Award

National Lawyers Guild Student Award

All students who have been recognized for 100 or more hours of pro bono and the winners of the public service and Pro Bono Collaborative award are listed in the commencement program.

Community Service

None listed

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Laurie Barron
Executive Director
Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education
P: (401) 254-4653

Eliza Vorenberg, J.D.
Director, Pro Bono and Community Partnerships
Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education
P: (401) 254-4597

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

None listed

Public Interest Centers

The Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education - The Center runs a Pro Bono Collaborative (partnering law firms, community organizations, and law students together to work on pro bono projects), several Externship Programs (Judicial, Prosecution, and Public Interest), a Mandatory Pro Bono Program (law-related, uncompensated, not-for-credit), the Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program, the Public Interest Auction which raises money for Summer Stipends, 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

Community Economic Development Clinic

Criminal Defense Clinic

Immigration Clinic


Students enrolled in the Judicial, Prosecution, or Public Interest Externship Program work 2, 3, or 5 days each week in a public interest law office, and take a weekly 2-hour seminar. Students receive 4, 6, or 12 pass-fail credits for their work in the field, and 2 graded credits for the seminar. Students may work in one of about 20 pre-approved placements in Rhode Island, Boston, or Southeastern Massachusetts, or may set up their own placement in conjunction with the program director. In addition, we have recently started a Semester-in-Practice Program through which students may design their own placement anywhere in the country (or outside of the country), with the Program Director's approval, as long as the placement fits within one of our pre-existing externship programs.

Classes with a Public Service Component

None listed

Public Interest Journals

None listed

PI Career Support Center

The Career Development Office hosts public interest law speakers who include national, state and local public interest attorneys and leaders. Students also speak on panels about their summer public interest experiences. The office of Career Development also hosts brown bags and panel discussions throughout the academic year; several programs each semester are dedicated to public interest employment opportunities.

Other Public Interest Job Fairs & Networking Opportunities include:

Equal Justice Works Job Fair (Washington, D.C., October)

New York University School of Law Public Interest Job Fair (February)

The Rhode Island State Government Internship Program: Each fall, 1L and 2L students are invited to interview on-campus with the RI State Government Internship Program for both summer and academic-year internships. All students, but particularly 1L students, are strongly encouraged to participate in this program to gain practical experience, explore their interests, and make connections in the legal community


The Exploring Your Options event, hosted by Career Development, is for attorneys to share information with our students about what it is like to work in different areas of the legal industry. Students go from table to table at allotted times, similar to a speed networking environment. Attorneys offer insight about their particular areas of practice and advice regarding work experiences, course selection and activities students should participate in during law school that would best prepare them for a career in a particular area.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

Thanks to the generosity of Roger Williams University and Jack and Sara McConnell, the Feinstein Center established the Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program in 2008. Through the program, we award approximately eight grants of $4000 annually to graduates representing indigent clients in either civil or criminal proceedings.

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

None listed

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

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:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

The Law School and University provide significant funding for public interest summer stipends. Students find a public interest summer placement and apply through a competitive process for a stipend. Each year, approximately 30-35 stipends are given out. The University and Law School fund this program in the amount of $51,000 and another $25,000 is raised through a Public Interest Auction attended by roughly 400 alumni, students, and members of the legal community each winter.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

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

Student Chapters of State, National, and International Organizations:

  • RWU National Lawyers Guild
  • Student Branch - Rhode Island Association for Justice (SRIAJ)
  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Student Chapter
  • American Constitution Society (ACS)
  • Association for Public Interest Law (APIL)
  • Christian Law Student Society
  • Criminal Law Society (CLS)
  • Elder Law Society
  • Environmental Law Society (ELS)
  • Family Law Society
  • Federalist Society
  • Health Law Society
  • International Law Society (ILS)
  • Negotiation and Mediation Association (Society for Alternative Dispute Resolution)
  • Quahogs
  • Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ)
  • Tax Law and Business Society (TLBS)

Cultural and Common Interest Groups:

  • Multi-Cultural Law Students Association (MCLSA)
  • Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA)
  • Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
  • Latino Law Students Association (LLSA)
  • Native American Law Students Association (NALSA)
  • Jewish Law Students Association (JLS)
  • The Alliance (LGBT)
  • Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (S.A.L.D.F. )
  • Women's Law Society (WLS)

August 6, 2018