What is the Pro Bono Initiative?
The Pro Bono Initiative, or PBI, is a one-of-a-kind noncredit volunteer program that allows students to build real world problem-solving skills to serve their community (also see for-credit Clinical Program). PBI has a three part mission: to provide skill building legal opportunities under the direct supervision of attorneys; to develop placements where alumni can volunteer, network and serve as mentors to law students; and to demonstrate the professional responsibility of those in the legal profession to provide pro bono legal services to the underserved in the community who otherwise would not have access to the justice system.
PBI sponsors eight free brief legal consultation clinics throughout the Salt Lake City area, including American Indian Law, Debtors Counseling, Expungement, Family Law, Immigration, Medical-Legal, Rainbow Law, and Street Law. They operate year-round and are staffed by our volunteer students and volunteer lawyer supervisors. PBI also pairs students with practitioners in various placements including law firms, where students assist on pro bono matters, as well as nonprofit organizations and legal-related agencies.
Opportunities for live client interaction and community service begin in the second semester of a student’s first year and strongly emphasizes the critical role of public service, permitting students to be mentored by practicing attorneys in a range of settings in which free legal advice is offered to low-income individuals. PBI provides an unparalleled opportunity for students to engage and serve the community, while building valuable lawyering skills including client counseling, legal research, and document drafting. The College of Law strongly encourages all students to perform at least fifty hours of volunteer service during their law school careers. Students who meet this benchmark are presented with a Certificate of Service at graduation. During the 2012-2013 academic year, PBI volunteers donated over 5,200 hours of service.
We believe that law students who make pro bono work a part of their education gain valuable experience and will continue that commitment in their professional lives, helping to assure that all citizens receive quality legal services.