KU Law’s Pro Bono Program

Since the Pro Bono Program at KU Law launched in 2017, over 200 students have contributed 17,530 hours of free legal services to their communities.

The program started with two main goals, said Meredith Schnug, director of the Pro Bono Program. First, it recognizes students who are volunteering their time. Second, it promotes pro bono service for all students, Schnug said. 

“Our ethical rules as attorneys advise us that we should do pro bono service. It’s an important part of professional identity, and so developing that commitment to pro bono service in law school is really important,” Schnug said.

KU Law’s Pro Bono Program defines pro bono work as uncompensated, law-related work that benefits the public, such as through a nonprofit organization or government agency. 

Students contribute pro bono hours by volunteering for criminal record expungement clinics, traffic court hearings, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, and other projects throughout the year. Students who log 15 hours in a year earn a spot on the Pro Bono Honor Roll. Those who report 50 hours by the time they graduate receive Pro Bono Distinction.

The program gives students an opportunity, even in their first year, to get involved through short-term clinics like the Guardianship Assistance Project and the Clean Slate Criminal Record Expungement Clinic. Those opportunities help students see what they can do with their law degree, Schnug said.

“So many students come to law school with the goal of wanting to help people, and they don’t have a lot of opportunity to do that in their first year because their studies are so demanding,” Schnug said. “These shorter-term pro bono opportunities are a good way for them to be able to do that, to feel connected with the purpose that inspired them to come to law school.”

Pro Bono Program: By the Numbers

  • 17,530 pro bono hours logged
  • 225 students reporting hours
  • 97 KU Law graduates with Pro Bono Distinction (50+ hours)
  • 154 Pro Bono Honor Roll honorees (15+ hours in a year)

This article appeared in print in the 2022 KU Law Magazine.

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