Pro Bono & Public Interest
Lawyers and those aspiring to join the legal profession have a professional obligation to provide pro bono legal services to those unable to afford lawyers, to promote access to justice and to serve the public good. The UConn School of Law has a longstanding commitment to serving the community and training lawyers who will make pro bono service and work in the public interest an integral part of their careers.
Students can become involved in pro bono projects as early as their first year of law school. The School of Law provides numerous opportunities for students to provide vitally needed services and perform work in the public interest while at the same time honing their legal skills and deepening their understanding of law and legal institutions. The school’s clinical programs, public interest grants and fellowships, and Pro Bono Pledge program all play an important role in these efforts.
Pro Bono Pledge
The Pro Bono Pledge program encourages and recognizes law student participation in pro bono activities and community service projects for which no academic credit or compensation is received. Students who perform 50 or more hours of pro bono service before graduation receive a notation on their UConn Law transcript highlighting their pro bono contributions.
UConn School of Law offers a wide range of clinics in which students receive academic credit for their work providing legal services in areas such as immigration, criminal law, tax law, children’s rights, environmental law, civil rights, poverty law and mediation to persons unable to pay. Students, supervised law school faculty or expert practitioners in the clinical programs, are given broad responsibility for handling all aspects of legal matters while receiving intensive supervision and training.
Public Interest Law Group
UConn’s Law’s Public Interest Law Group awards summer stipends to students working in unpaid summer positions with entities serving under-represented and disenfranchised communities. Funding for these fellowships is raised through an annual auction, held each November, which is a major social event for the entire UConn Law community. In addition, various student organizations and bar groups sponsor pro bono projects. Students may also work with alumni or faculty who are engaged in pro bono projects or volunteer to work directly with not-for-profit organizations that provide direct services to clients or engage in advocacy work. Students are also encouraged to arrange their own qualifying placements with organizations and private attorneys doing pro bono work.
Important Disclaimer for Members of the Public
UConn’s pro bono program does not provide direct assistance to individual members of the public. UConn Law students are not licensed to practice law and may work only under the supervision of a licensed attorney. People seeking legal assistance should consult the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch website. Individuals may also contact a local county bar association’s Lawyer Referral Service:
• Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, Tolland and Windham Counties: 860-525-6052
• Fairfield County: 203-335-4116
• New Haven County: 203-562-5750
• New London County: 860-889-9384