USF Pro Bono Program

At the University of San Francisco School of Law, we take seriously our responsibility to train students to become ethical lawyers who will help to make the world a better place. We are committed to social justice and providing access to justice for those who remain marginalized in our country and around the world.

Why Should I Do Pro Bono Work?

There are a myriad of reasons to do pro bono work while in law school, not the least of which is helping some of the thousands of people in Northern California who desperately need access to legal services.

  • Develop your legal skills in a real-world setting. Civil procedure actually does have a real-world application! When you do pro bono work, the law you learn in class is brought to life. Depending on your placement, you may perform legal research, write court briefs, interview real clients, take depositions, and even appear in court.
  • Make professional contacts. As a volunteer you will become part of a larger legal community that includes attorneys from public interest organizations, law firms, and government agencies.
  • Explore career options and find your passion! While volunteering, you will gain a real sense of what different law practices are like; this experience will be invaluable in deciding what career path to follow. Exposure to different areas of law may help you find your true calling.
  • Enhance your résumé. Showing that you have put your legal skills into practice can really help you stand out to prospective employers. This is especially true for first-year students who often have no legal experience when applying for their first summer jobs.
  • Meet like-minded law students. Getting involved with pro bono work will allow you to meet students who share your desire to learn and to help others.
  • The American Bar Association recommends it. ABA Model Code of Professional Conduct Rule 6.1 states that every lawyer “has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay” and should aspire to perform at least fifty hours of pro bono work every year.”
  • The State Bar of California recommends it. The Board of Governors of the State Bar of California adopted the Pro Bono Resolution, resolving that the Board of Governors of the State Bar of California: “Urges all law schools to promote and encourage the participation of law students in pro bono activities,” including requiring any law firm wishing to recruit on campus to provide a written statement of its policy, if any, concerning the involvement of its attorneys in public service and pro bono activities.

Source: The original source of this Student Handbook is OneJustice.

What counts as qualifying hours for USF's Pro Bono Program?

The hours that qualify for USF’s Pro Bono Program must meet the following requirements:

  1. providing direct legal services to persons of limited means;
  2. helping groups or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties, or public rights;
  3. helping charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, and educational organizations not able to afford legal representation;
  4. participating in activities providing information about justice, the law or the legal system to those who might not otherwise have such information; or
  5. engaging in activities to enhance the capacity of the law and legal institutions to do justice.

The work must be legal volunteer work where you are not getting paid or receiving academic credit. It must also be completed under the supervision of a licensed attorney or, under exceptional circumstances, a program director. Certain activities do not qualify as Pro Bono for purposes of USF’s Pro Bono Program regardless of whether they meet the above requirements, such as work performed for academic credit, a salary, or a grant.  Additionally, work performed for law journals, writing competitions, symposia or conferences, judicial internships, fundraising, or electioneering activities do not qualify as Pro Bono.

Students who are uncertain about whether a particular activity qualifies as pro bono should inquire with the Office of Student Affairs at before participating in the activity.


Meet our Student Pro Bono Coordinator

Alondra is a 3L at USF, she is a first generation Mexican-American, originally from Whittier, CA. She is interested in a career as an immigration attorney, in her free time she enjoys going on hikes and hanging out with friends. Alondra enjoys doing pro bono work because it allows her to connect with the community, and reminds her of why she decided to go to law school in the first place. It is also a great way to gain experience and make amazing connections with organizations and fellow students. 

photo of student pro bono coordinator, Alondra