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In order for students to receive HLS pro bono credit, work must be legal and supervised by a licensed attorney and must be performed by both the supervising attorney and the student on behalf of (1) people who cannot afford, in whole or in part, to pay for legal services; (2) the government; (3) a non-profit organization as defined under IRS sections 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4); (4) a law firm working on a pro bono basis; or (5) a foreign equivalent of any of the above. The work must involve the application or interpretation of law, the formulation of legal policy, the drafting of legislation or regulations and/or work done in anticipation of litigation. The work should not be clerical and must be uncompensated. Political campaign-related work may be credited toward the Harvard Law School pro bono service requirement under the conditions indicated in the School’s Pro Bono (Section I(K)) and Written Credit for Political Activities (Section I(L)) policies. You can also review the HLS Handbook of Academic Policies for more information on the Pro Bono Requirement policy.

If students do not meet the pro bono requirement, they will not be allowed to graduate and will not be certified for admission to the Bar. This requirement is a mandatory component of the academic program. Individual state bars may have separate pro bono requirements for admission; all students are advised to check those requirements for any state in which they may seek to practice.

For Student Entering HLS in Fall 2015 or Later – Requirement is 50 Hours

For students entering HLS in Fall 2015 or later, the pro bono requirement is 50 hours. Pro bono service may be performed in an approved supervised setting anytime between the start of their 1L year and before spring break of their 3L year, including the summers between law school years.

For Students who Entered HLS prior to Fall 2015 – Requirement is 40 Hours

For students who have entered HLS prior to Fall 2015, the pro bono requirement is 40 hours. Pro bono service may be performed in an approved supervised setting beginning in the spring semester of their 1L year and before spring break of their 3L year, including the summers between law school years.

Receiving Pro Bono Credit as a Transfer Student

Transfer students may seek pro bono credit for work completed at their prior law school or over the summer prior to coming to Harvard Law School. The pro bono work may be, but need not be, performed in a setting in which Harvard Law School clinical credit is given or through many of the Law School’s volunteer student practice organizations.

Pro Bono Credit via Summer Public Interest Work

Summer public interest work funded through the summer public interest funding program (SPIF) will count toward the requirement if the work meets the pro bono requirements, is legal, and is supervised by a licensed attorney.

Our hope is that by giving back to the community, our graduates will develop a lifelong commitment to using their education and skills to contribute to the public good.Outlined below are places students can work, the types of work students can perform, and the process for ensuring pro bono hours are counted. If you have any questions about the pro bono requirement during your academic career, please contact Lee Branson Mestre in the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs or set up an advising appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can students work?
May I work at more than one placement?
Can I set up my own pro bono project?
Can I fulfill the pro bono graduation requirement away from campus?
Do summer public interest jobs qualify for the graduation pro bono requirement?
Does law firm pro bono work count for the graduation pro bono requirement?
How do I find pro bono projects?
What kind of work qualifies for the graduation pro bono requirement?
Does work as a research assistant to a faculty member qualify for the graduation pro bono requirement?
Does a judicial clerkship qualify for the graduation pro bono requirement?
Does work on a political campaign or 527 qualify for the graduation pro bono requirement?
Does non-legal volunteer work count toward the requirement (e.g. Big Brother/Big Sister)?
Does foreign language translation qualify for the graduation pro bono requirement?
I am a transfer student. Can my prior with other schools count towards the requirement?
When can students begin working towards the graduation pro bono requirement?
When must students complete the requirement?
When will pro bono hours appear on the transcript?
May students do more than 40 or 50 hours of pro bono work?
Does training time count towards the graduation pro bono requirement?
Does transportation time count towards the graduation pro bono requirement?
Does observation time count toward the graduation pro bono requirement?
What is the procedure for students volunteering with a Harvard Law School Student Practice Organization (SPO)?
What is the procedure for students doing clinical work?
What is the procedure for students doing summer public interest jobs?
What are the steps for fulfilling the pro bono graduation requirement for volunteer projects?
What are the available pro bono resources?
What is the New York Bar Pro Bono Admission Requirement?