Pro Bono Program


At KU Law, we encourage students to make a commitment to pro bono service as part of their professional lives.

Lawyers — and law students — have specialized skills, and with those skills comes a responsibility to serve. Performing pro bono service in law school is a great way to give back to the community while gaining hands-on legal experience that enriches your legal education and better prepares you for practice.

Through the pro bono program, students complete service including:

  • Preparing tax returns for low-income residents
  • Helping clients expunge past criminal convictions
  • Representing the interests of children in foster care as court-appointed special advocates
  • Working with nonprofit organizations, government agencies, prosecutors’ offices and public defenders’ offices

Pro bono service is uncompensated, supervised law-related work that benefits the public.

Students who complete 50 hours of pro bono service during their law school career will be honored at graduation. Additionally, students who complete 15 hours or more of pro bono service during the academic year will be recognized on the annual Pro Bono Honor Roll.

The law school informs students as new pro bono opportunities become available, but students may also find their own placements that meet the program requirements.

Pro Bono Program Information

What is pro bono?

At KU Law, we define pro bono service as uncompensated, supervised, law-related work that benefits the public. Specifically, pro bono service is law-related work performed for the benefit of:

  1. persons of limited means or other underserved communities;
  2. not-for-profit organizations;
  3. individuals, groups or organizations seeking to secure or promote access to justice, including, but not limited to, the protection of civil rights, civil liberties, or public rights; or
  4. a judicial, legislative, executive, or other governmental entity.

Law-related work performed to benefit a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization – or to assist in the formation of the 501(c)(3) – presumptively qualifies for pro bono hours. Law-related work performed to benefit a for-profit organization presumptively does not qualify for pro bono hours. To confirm whether a for-profit opportunity qualifies for pro bono hours, students should seek pre-approval as explained on the Apply for Pre-Approval/Certification tab.

Additionally, pro bono service must be:


Students may not receive any compensation or academic credit for their service. Pro bono hours do not include any service performed for the purpose of fulfilling a requirement of a law school class or certificate program. Additionally, the legal services to the client must be provided for free or at a substantially reduced rate.

  • Example 1: If a student does unpaid legal research for a local attorney on cases in which the clients are paying regular rates, the student’s work is not considered pro bono. However, if the student does the same work, for no compensation or academic credit, for an attorney who is representing an indigent client pro bono or through a court appointment, the student’s work would count toward pro bono hours.
  • Example 2: A student participates in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for 30 hours. The student is also working toward a certificate in tax law, which requires a minimum of 20 hours of participation with VITA or a similar program. Because the student is fulfilling an academic requirement for the tax law certificate, the student may only count as pro bono hours those hours performed in excess of the 20-hour requirement. In this case, the student has performed 10 hours of pro bono service.
  • Example 3: A student works for a legal services organization and receives academic credit through the Field Placement Program. After fulfilling the hours requirement for the Field Placement Program, the student continues to work for the organization for no compensation and no academic credit. If the work otherwise meets the definition of pro bono service, the student may count as pro bono the hours worked above and beyond the Field Placement Program requirement.

Students must be supervised by an attorney, faculty member or other qualified supervisor. The supervisor must provide the appropriate level of oversight for the work being performed and be able to verify the students’ pro bono hours. Students should be diligent in reviewing and complying with the applicable ethics rules of the jurisdiction.

A non-attorney supervisor is presumed to be qualified to supervise a student if the supervisor has specialized training or expertise, or a minimum of two years of experience, in the relevant field. However, a non-attorney supervisor may not supervise a student in the provision of legal services. If you have any questions about whether a non-attorney may supervise your work, please contact the chair of the Faculty/Student Pro Bono Committee.

  • Example 1: A student is working, for no compensation, for a nonprofit organization that addresses environmental issues. The student conducts research on recent environmental policy developments and assists in developing policy statements for the organization. The student is supervised by a non-attorney legislative liaison who has worked in the field for several years. Because the student is not engaged in the practice of law, the legislative liaison, who has expertise in the field, is qualified to supervise the student’s work.
  • Example 2: A student is serving as a court-appointed special advocate through the Douglas County Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) organization. The student is supervised by a non-attorney volunteer coordinator. Although the student is performing law-related work and using advocacy skills, the student is not giving legal advice or practicing law. Therefore, the specially trained volunteer coordinator is qualified to supervise the student’s work.
  • Example 3: A student is working as a legal intern for a legal aid organization. The student performs legal research, drafts pleadings, assists with client interviews, and occasionally appears in court, with a supervising attorney, on behalf of indigent clients. Because the student is providing direct legal services, the student must be supervised by a licensed attorney. Additionally, to appear in court with clients in Kansas, the student also needs a valid Legal Intern Permit, pursuant to Kansas Supreme Court Rule 715.

What kinds of work count toward pro bono hours?

When performed for no compensation or academic credit, the following are examples of work that would count toward pro bono hours:

  • Working for a legal services organization
  • Serving as a court advocate through The Willow Domestic Violence Center
  • Serving as a court-appointed special advocate for children through Douglas County CASA
  • Volunteering through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program
  • Working with a private attorney on a pro bono or court-appointed case
  • Working in a prosecutor’s office, for a judge, or at a government agency
  • Performing legal research, drafting documents, or assisting in policy advocacy for a nonprofit organization

What kinds of work do not count toward pro bono hours?

  • Volunteering for a political campaign or engaging in fundraising efforts
  • Working on law review or journal
  • Performing non-law-related community service, such as volunteering for a food pantry or youth organization
  • Working on pro bono cases within the context of paid employment
  • Performing research or otherwise assisting faculty with scholarship

Students are encouraged to seek approval of their pro bono opportunity before performing their service hours; however, pre-approval is not mandatory.

Students seeking pre-approval should submit the Pro Bono Pre-Approval Form (.pdf) to the chair of the Faculty/Student Pro Bono Committee.

All requests for pre-approval should include:

  • the name of the proposed placement;
  • contact information for the organization, including the proposed supervisor, if known;
  • a brief explanation of how the work fits within the above definition of pro bono service; and
  • be made at least two weeks before work should commence, or earlier, if possible.

How do I turn in my hours?

  1. Complete the Pro Bono Certification Form (.pdf) and have your supervisor sign it.
  2. Turn in the form to the Chair of the Faculty/Student Pro Bono Committee by following the instructions on the form.

Students should turn in certification forms as soon as each pro bono project is completed, or, for ongoing projects, each semester. The deadline to be recognized in the annual Pro Bono Honor Roll is the second Friday in April each year.

Chair of the Faculty/Student Pro Bono Committee:

Meredith Schnug, or 785-864-9291, Legal Aid Clinic, 105 Green Hall

I am working for a government agency or nonprofit legal organization over the summer. I am not being paid, but I did receive a small public interest stipend to help with my living expenses. Does the stipend count as compensation?

For KU’s pro bono program, a de minimus stipend is not considered compensation. Generally, a stipend of $2,000 or less for 8 weeks of full-time work (or the equivalent rate) is not considered compensation. If you are uncertain about how to count your pro bono hours when receiving a stipend, please contact the chair of the Faculty/Student Pro Bono Committee.

Does training count toward pro bono hours?

Students may count up to 6 hours of training as pro bono hours when it is necessary to complete the pro bono service, provided that the student then completes the equivalent or more hours in related pro bono service. Example: A student attends a 4-hour training to do pro bono work for a nonprofit agency. If the student then completes only 2 hours of pro bono work, the student may only count 2 hours of training toward pro bono hours (for a total of 4 hours).

After graduation, I am going to practice in another state that has a pro bono requirement for admission to the bar. Will my pro bono hours here count toward the requirement for the other state?

It depends. For example, KU’s definition of pro bono service is similar to, but not entirely the same as, the definition for pro bono service from New York. One difference is that New York requires a student’s pro bono work to be supervised by an attorney. Therefore, it is important to check the requirement in the jurisdiction where you will seek admission to the bar to make sure that your work will count toward that requirement as well.

Who will be recognized at graduation?

Students who have completed a minimum of 50 pro bono hours during their time in law school will be recognized at graduation. Students may list “Pro Bono Distinction” on their resume for receiving this recognition. Students may count pro bono hours that were performed any time during the student’s law school career. Graduating students must complete their hours and turn in the required documentation by the second Friday of April in order to be recognized at graduation.

Who else will be recognized?

At the end of each school year, all students completing 15 or more pro bono hours will be listed on the Pro Bono Honor Roll. Students must complete their hours and turn in the required documentation by the second Friday of April in order to be recognized on the annual Honor Roll. For purposes of the Honor Roll, pro bono hours completed within the current academic year will be counted.

How may I list pro bono recognition on my resume?

Students who make the annual Pro Bono Honor Roll for having completed 15 or more pro bono hours during the academic year may state on their resume that they were listed on the Pro Bono Honor Roll for the applicable academic year. Students who are recognized at graduation for performing 50 or more pro bono hours during their law school career may state on their resume that they earned “Pro Bono Distinction.”

How do I find pro bono opportunities?

There are several ongoing pro bono opportunities available through the law school and local organizations. As new opportunities become available, they will be listed in the law school’s weekly email to students, but students are also encouraged to find their own opportunities.

Can student organizations coordinate pro bono opportunities?

Yes. Student organizations are encouraged to develop pro bono opportunities. Remember that the work must be law-related and supervised, so community service projects will not count. Please feel free to contact the Chair of the Faculty/Student Pro Bono Committee to discuss your idea.

What if I am told my hours will not count, and I disagree with that decision?

Students may file a written appeal for the Faculty/Student Pro Bono Committee to review. The committee will then issue a final decision regarding the appeal.

Chair of the Faculty/Student Pro Bono Committee: Meredith Schnug,, 785-864-9291, Legal Aid Clinic, 105 Green Hall

Pro Bono Honor Roll


The following students completed 15 hours or more of pro bono service during the 2023-2024 academic year (May 2023-April 2024). Students are listed by name and graduation year.

  • Cecilia Bailey, 2025
  • Elm Beck, 2024
  • Amanda Brauninger, 2025
  • Kaitlyn Cairns, 2025
  • Dane Caster, 2025
  • Kate Duggan, 2025
  • Emily Featherston, 2024
  • Matt Firnhaber, 2024
  • Matthew Goldhammer, 2026
  • Shannon Greene, 2024
  • Kylie Hance, 2025
  • Keegan Heany Fredrick, 2026
  • Rachel Holt, 2026
  • Will James, 2025
  • Skylee James, 2025
  • Keirn Kinnan, 2026
  • Hayley Koontz, 2024
  • Grace Lahr, 2025
  • Jude Lane, 2026
  • Caitlin McPartland, 2024
  • Evan Norkey, 2026
  • Liz Oltjen, 2026
  • Bethany Pace-Danley, 2024
  • Josie Pennington, 2024
  • Kathleen Rothfelder, 2025
  • Tanya Singh, 2025


The following students completed 15 hours or more of pro bono service during the 2022-2023 academic year (May 2022-April 2023). Students are listed by name and graduation year.

  • Vincent Amiri, 2024
  • Douglas Bartel, 2023
  • Liam Bigbee, 2025
  • Chris Birzer, 2024
  • Melanie Bock, 2025
  • Amanda Brauninger, 2025
  • Brooke Brownlee, 2024
  • Kaitlyn Cairns, 2025
  • Jc Carter, 2024
  • Dane Caster, 2025
  • Jake Combs, 2025
  • Chrissy Crowell, 2025
  • Matthew Firnhaber, 2024
  • Naomi Franklin, 2024
  • Ryan Fuentes, 2025
  • Jamie Gallagher, 2024
  • Gabby Garrison, 2025
  • Emily Gay, 2024
  • Kat Girod, 2023
  • Shannon Greene, 2024
  • Kylie Hance, 2025
  • Jared Harpt, 2023
  • Rachel Henderson, 2024
  • Steven Hendler, 2023
  • Reagan Hoskin, 2025
  • Joshua Hukil, 2025
  • Skylee James, 2025
  • Charlotte Kukundakwe, 2023
  • Lauren Lile, 2025
  • CyLeigh Maroney, 2024
  • Caitlin McPartland, 2024
  • Bethany Pace Danley, 2024
  • Lauren Page, 2023
  • John Racy, 2025
  • Toni Ruo, 2023
  • Katie Siderchuk, 2025
  • Makaela Stevens, 2024
  • Alden Vogel, 2024
  • Haylee Weissenbach, 2025
  • Tara Wolff, 2025
  • Connor Works, 2024


The following students completed 15 hours or more of pro bono service during the 2021-2022 academic year (May 2021-April 2022). Students are listed by name and graduation year.

  • Bander Almohammadi, 2022 (S.J.D.)
  • Anshul Banga, 2024
  • Doug Bartel, 2023
  • Ellie Beck, 2024
  • Karlie Bischoff, 2024
  • Katie Calderon, 2022
  • Katherine Carter, 2024
  • Chad Cook, 2024
  • Riley Cooney, 2022
  • Samuel Crowley, 2024
  • Christian DeShazo, 2022
  • Cortez Downey, 2022
  • Hannah Eubanks, 2022
  • Christian Flores, 2024
  • Jamie Gallagher, 2024
  • Katelyn Girod, 2023
  • Shannon Greene, 2024
  • Tyler Hellenbrand, 2022
  • Rachel Henderson, 2024
  • Steven Hendler, 2023
  • John Langmaid, 2024
  • Sophia Leonard, 2024
  • Ryan Love, 2024
  • Lauren Mangiameli, 2022
  • CyLeigh Maroney, 2024
  • Amanda McElfresh, 2023
  • Caitlin McPartland, 2024
  • Lindsay McQuinn, 2023
  • David Miranda, 2024
  • Allyson Monson, 2023
  • Audrey Nelson, 2022
  • Roman Panickar, 2023
  • Stephany Rohleder, 2022
  • Toni Ruo, 2023
  • Tyler Schembri, 2024
  • Riley Schumacher, 2022
  • Ashlyn Shultz, 2022
  • Edwin Sullivan, 2022
  • Andrew Tague, 2022
  • Alden Vogel, 2024
  • Heidi Wolff-Stanton, 2022


The following students completed 15 hours or more of pro bono service during the 2020-2021 academic year (May 2020-April 2021). Students are listed by name and graduation year.

  • Harrison Baker, 2021
  • Douglas Bartel, 2023
  • Sidney Billings, 2021
  • Ethan Crockett, 2022
  • Robert Curtis, 2021
  • Karsyn Dahl, 2022
  • Timothy Dodd, 2023
  • Casey Douglas, 2022
  • Emma Easom, 2021
  • Jackson Ely, 2021
  • Hannah Eubanks, 2022
  • Alec Feather, 2022
  • Katelyn Girod, 2023
  • Cayce Good, 2022
  • Patrick Grey, 2023
  • Tyler Hellenbrand, 2022
  • Rachel Highsmith, 2022
  • Sim Johal, 2022
  • Misbah Karamali, 2021
  • Chloe Ketchmark, 2022
  • Katherine Lenson, 2022
  • Cathryn Lind, 2022
  • Mary McMullen, 2022
  • Cori Moffett, 2021
  • Bria Nelson, 2021
  • Riley Nickel, 2021
  • Sara Pagnotta, 2021
  • Reiley Pankratz, 2021
  • Alexis Pearson, 2021
  • Stephany Rohleder, 2022
  • Olivia Ruschill, 2022
  • Kevin Salazar, 2023
  • Cody Seboldt, 2021
  • Dahnika Short, 2022
  • Joshua Sipp, 2023
  • Alexandra Speakar, 2023
  • Kendra Stacey, 2022
  • Andrew Tague, 2022
  • Katie Tepezano, 2022
  • Adeline Tolle, 2021
  • Abigail Weber, 2022
  • Alex Williams, 2022
  • Heidi Wolff-Stanton, 2022

Pro Bono Distinction

Class of 2024

The following students were honored at graduation for having completed 50 hours or more of pro bono service during their law school tenure.

  • Vincent Amiri
  • Elm Beck
  • Brooke Brownlee
  • Jc Carter
  • Emily Featherston
  • Matthew Firnhaber
  • Jamie Gallagher
  • Emily Gay
  • Shannon Greene
  • Hayley Koontz
  • CyLeigh Maroney
  • Caitlin McPartland
  • Bethany Pace-Danley
  • Josie Pennington
  • Makaela Stevens
  • Chloe Thompson
  • Alden Vogel

Class of 2023

The following students were honored at graduation for having completed 50 hours or more of pro bono service during their law school tenure.

  • Douglas Bartel
  • Kat Girod
  • Jared Harpt
  • Steven Hendler
  • Amanda McElfresh
  • Lindsay McQuinn
  • Allyson Monson
  • Roman Panickar
  • Toni Ruo
  • Kevin Salazar
  • Alexandra Speakar

Class of 2022

The following students were honored at graduation for having completed 50 hours or more of pro bono service during their law school tenure.

  • Katie Calderon
  • Riley Cooney
  • Ethan Crockett
  • Karsyn Dahl
  • Christian DeShazo
  • Casey Douglas
  • Cortez Downey
  • Hannah Eubanks
  • Alec Feather
  • Cayce Good
  • Tyler Hellenbrand
  • Rachel Highsmith
  • Simrat Johal
  • Chloe Ketchmark
  • Katherine Lenson
  • Cathryn Lind
  • Lauren Mangiameli
  • Mary McMullen
  • Audrey Nelson
  • Stephany Rohleder
  • Olivia Ruschill
  • Riley Schumacher
  • Grace Seger
  • Kendra Stacey
  • Edwin Sullivan
  • Abigail Weber
  • Alex Williams
  • Heidi Wolff-Stanton

Class of 2021

The following students were honored at graduation for having completed 50 hours or more of pro bono service during their law school tenure.

  • Bander Almohammadi
  • Harrison Baker
  • Ellen Bertels
  • Sidney Billings
  • Claudia Chavarria
  • Robert Curtis
  • Emma Easom
  • Jackson Ely
  • Delaney Hiegert
  • Misbah Karamali
  • Leah Lewsader
  • Cori Moffett
  • Bria Nelson
  • Sara Pagnotta
  • Alexis Pearson
  • Peter Qiu

Student Testimonial: CASA and Compassion

Elm Beck, L'24

Elm Beck, L'24

Whether you’re helping a college student contest their parking ticket or spending time with a child in the child welfare system, there is no question that pro bono work is all about making a positive impact on your community. At KU Law, students have the unique opportunity to engage in work that goes beyond the classroom and into the lives of people experiencing challenging life situations. Elm Beck, 3L, is one of those students and cites their work with Douglas County CASA, Inc. as one of the most fulfilling opportunities they’ve had a chance to undertake.

“I’m really passionate about the rights of kids in foster care,” said Beck. “Both of my parents were adopted and this gives me a personal connection with making sure kids in the system are being treated fairly and being taken care of.”

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate and is designed to connect children of all ages in the child welfare system with a safe, present and stable adult who can get to know them on a personal level and advocate for their best interests. The CASA volunteer will make at least bi-annual reports to the court that discuss everything from what’s going on in the child’s life to what the child needs to have a safe and healthy childhood. Many CASA volunteers are retired people who tend to have more time on their hands to do the intensive work required of a CASA volunteer. Beck wanted to do their part to offer a new viewpoint.

“I thought about who that tends to leave out in terms of having advocates who are culturally competent for certain younger communities,” said Beck. “I was really hopeful that I could get connected with a higher needs case and be able to help advocate for that child through that more unique lens as a Gen-Z person myself. I got really lucky and was matched with a child that I connect very well with. Supporting that connection has been one of the most rewarding parts about the experience.”

Beck hails from Kansas City and spent a large majority of their undergraduate career at KU looking for community activism and volunteer opportunities on campus. By the time they came to KU Law in 2021, Beck had already served as the president of the ACLU of KU and was eager to continue their acts of service within Green Hall and without.

“I knew that I wanted to do some kind of advocacy in the world,” said Beck. “When I was entering college, I realized that becoming a lawyer might be a way that I can harness advocacy. I felt that law school was a way I could get a bit more power behind what I was doing.”

Beck’s involvement in the CASA program is a time commitment, estimated about three hours a week, but a worthy one. Beck was required to attend about 35 hours of training to prepare for the program before being officially sworn in and appointed on the case by a judge.

“The time commitment is something to consider if you’re willing to take it on,” said Beck, “but for me, that paled in comparison to the importance of the work I was doing. I love getting to know my CASA child and hearing the opinions the child has about their life. I’m able to make more in-depth observations and understandings about what is in the child’s best interest.”

Through pro bono work, future lawyers like Beck can bridge the gap and provide legal support to underserved and marginalized communities. It is important that current and future lawyers realize the importance that their pro bono work serves.

“There is definitely a lot of room where we can make good work in the world,” said Beck. “Pro bono work is a great way that lawyers commit to doing something bigger than what they do just within their career. I think that is extremely important and is something the legal profession should continue to put an emphasis on now and in the future.”

Douglas County CASA, Inc. requires at least a one-year commitment from all their CASA volunteers, but Beck intends to stay with their CASA child until the child ages out of the system. As for future pro bono opportunities, Beck keeps an open mind and has some advice for anyone at KU Law interested in getting involved.

“Go talk to Professor Schnug because she had many opportunities and CASA was just the one I chose,” said Beck. “She talked me through at least four or five pro bono opportunities that you can do through KU Law. She knows a lot of resources out there to get involved.”

And for anyone in the law field, Beck stresses the importance of empathy and humility. “Always remember to be culturally competent and humble,” Beck said. “Being a lawyer is not the only thing that gives you credentials in the world. You need to be humble enough to understand that you’re not coming in to do pro bono work as some kind of savior. You are coming in to provide a service that you are capable of providing and learn from your client as well.

Read more about Elm’s experience.


Meredith Schnug
Clinical Associate Professor
Chair, Faculty/Student Pro Bono Committee