The pro bono pledge is a voluntary pledge to complete at least 50 hours of pro bono work. Pro bono work is work done on behalf of low-income or underrepresented people for which students receive no compensation whatsoever. Those students who fulfill the pledge will be acknowledged at graduation in the commencement program. Students may complete twenty-five (25) hours of non-legal community service, which does not need to be supervised by a licensed attorney. For the remaining twenty-five (25) hours or more, students must complete legally related community service, which must be supervised by a licensed attorney. Pro bono hours must be completed with a non-profit or not-for-profit organization, government agency or an official HUSL program. Students are able to begin completing pro bono hours during their first year because the hours accumulate until your last year of school.
Students shall enter their hours to be counted towards the Pro Bono pledge, online, via Symplicity. Please note that these hours are simply for tracking a student’s progress towards the pledge. Students should check with their respective State bar(s) to see what documentation is needed, if any, to prove completion of pro bono hours in order to gain admission the bar(s) to which they are applying. Please refer to the link below for the New York State Bar pro bono requirements. Unlike Howard's Pledge, the New York Bar allows applicants to use clinics and externships towards their pro bono requirement. However, under the New York requirement, community service does not apply unless it is law related and uses legal skills; whereas under the Howard pledge, twenty-five (25) hours may be purely community service. Here is the link New York Bar’s pro bono requirement.
Current Pro Bono Opportunities
Students who want to volunteer for pro bono work can find current opportunities here.
Recording and Verification of Hours
HUSL no longer requires documentation for proof of completion of pro bono hours. Students will simply need to provide their supervisor’s name and contact information, via Symplicity, for verification purposes. To upload your hours, you will need to log onto Symplicity. Once you are logged in, you will see a link under “Shortcuts” on the lower right side for “Pro Bono.” After locating the “Pro Bono” link, then go to “Add New” and add your hours. Begin typing in the name of the employer and you should see a drop down menu of employer names. If you do not see yours, please add it. For any technical questions, please contact email@example.com.
Externship and Clinic Hours
Clinic hours may not be used to fulfill the pro bono pledge. However, externship hours worked beyond the hours required to receive credit for the externship may be counted towards your pro bono pledge hours, as long as a student does not receive any compensation, including travel or meal stipends, for the externship.