The Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs administers the Pro Bono Requirement. Participation in most clinics will satisfy the Pro Bono Requirement. For more information about Clinical Legal Education, see Section III(B).
As a condition for graduation, Harvard Law School requires all J.D. students to contribute at least 50 hours of uncompensated, pro bono legal work. Individual state bars may have separate pro bono requirements for admission; students are advised to check those requirements for any state in which they may seek to practice.
Work qualifying for the pro bono service requirement must be legal and supervised by a licensed attorney and must be performed 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 and Written Work Credit for Political Activities (Section I(M)) policies. The pro bono work may be, but need not be, performed in a setting in which Harvard Law School clinical credit is given or, in some instances, through the Law School’s volunteer student practice organizations. 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.
Pro bono service may be performed in an approved supervised setting anytime between the start of the1L year and before spring break of the 3L year, including the summers between law school years. Transfer students may seek pro bono credit for work completed at their prior law school or during the summer prior to coming to Harvard Law School. Please note that different pro bono rules apply to any J.D. students who entered HLS prior to Fall 2015.