Public Service Guidelines and Procedures
What Counts as Service for Purposes of this Requirement?
Service is defined as activities that serve the community, the public, or the legal profession. For purposes of the requirement, the work must serve others, engage the student’s lawyering or professional skills (very broadly defined to including leadership, communication, strategic planning, and other professionally relevant skills), be otherwise uncredited, and uncompensated.
This is not as narrow as the Model Rules of Professional Conduct’s definitions of pro bono or law related service, nor as broad as community service. Service for credit excludes things like preparing or serving meals at Campus Kitchen or building houses through Habitat, although serving on policy or advising boards would count (because that type of works engages higher level professional skills).
How Much Service is Required?
Each third year student must contribute 40 hours of time during the academic year sufficient to be awarded one pass/fail credit. Hours accrue beginning with the Fall Semester and must be completed and recorded no later than the last day of regular classes in the Spring Semester.
What Else Do I Need to Know?
- Activities that involve actual cases, clients, or active legal matters must be supervised by a faculty member, senior administrator or supervising attorney or judge who will oversee student work and will set guidelines for satisfactory completion.
- A student must complete a minimum of forty (40) hours of uncompensated service per course credit. Students may receive a maximum of two course credits for Law Related Service in their third year of law school.
- The decision to add the second credit must be reached prior to the expiration of the Spring drop/add period (January 23, 2015).
- Students who complete a one semester externship during the fall semester have the option of completing either one or two credits of public service in the Spring Semester with the same supervising attorney, provided that the work serves the public or the profession and is not fee generating. Students who extern with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia during the Fall Semester complete two law related service credits in the Spring as a condition of their acceptance of the fall externship.
- Students participating in academic law school projects such as Journal Editors, Moot Court Board, or Kirgis Fellows, may submit service hours for time spent in preparation during the week immediately preceding the beginning of classes.
- Work done during the summer may not be counted towards your service requirement.
- Service hours may be completed in one semester, two semesters, or over scheduled breaks.
- Service hours must be reported regularly (within 14 days of completion) and with detailed description of each activity. Hours submitted after 14 days will be approved only at the discretion of Professor Natkin.
- Students who complete more than one hundred hours (100) of uncompensated service during their third year will be awarded a certificate and their extraordinary service will be noted at the Awards Ceremony prior to Commencement.
How Do I Find a Project?
There are three ways to find a qualified public service project:
- Participate in a Pre-approved Project listed on the Advertised Activities Page. If you would like to participate in one of these projects, please contact the listed supervisor.
Participate in an Optional Project. This includes some journals, some law student organization work and certain Moot Court competitions. Interested students should meet with Professor Natkin to discuss questions of eligibility.
- Examples: Uncompensated Moot Court Board work; tour guides; voluntary student organization governance and public projects, such as symposia or panel presentations; TIPS trained supervision.
- Please note: Students who are eligible to receive academic credit for their journal work or for participation in Moot Court competitions (as listed in the course catalog) MUST ELECT whether to use their participation for academic credit or public service hours. The election must be in writing, preferably by email, to Linda Johnson with a copy to Professor Natkin no later than November 7, 2014.
- Propose a New Project. Project proposals must be submitted to Professor Natkin for approval using the Project Proposal Form.
- Any work that engages a law student’s professional skills and serves others may be eligible for service hour credit. Please see Professor Natkin with questions on individual projects.
- Example: ABA, VSB, or VTLA committees or projects, work with non-profit boards on general governance issues or for particular projects.
- Still looking for the right project? Pro Bono Net-VA, a joint effort of the Virginia Poverty Law Center, Blue Ridge Legal Services, and Virginia's legal aid programs, is an online resource for lawyers, law students and paralegals interested in pro bono work specifically with legal aid organizations in Virginia.
Once you have selected a project and received approval:
- Complete the electronic contract. You will register your finalized project during this step.
- Start working and record your hours. Sign in using your Web Advisor username and password.