Frequently Asked Questions
Q. When can I start fulfilling my pro bono requirement?
A. Any time after you finish your first-year finals and file a Statement of Intent.
Q. Can I fulfill the requirement out of state?
A. Yes. You must have the placement approved as a Special Placement by the Public Interest Law Department Director.
Q. Does VITA fulfill the pro bono requirement?
A. Yes. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program will fulfill the requirement. Please note this program is only available during the spring semester. It therefore must be completed during the second year for day students, or the second or third year for evening students.
Q. Can I fulfill the requirement by working with a private attorney?
A. Yes. Private attorney placements may be available as Special Placements, so long as students work on pro bono cases under the supervision of an attorney, do not receive pay for the work performed and receive approval from the Public Interest Law Department Director before the work begins.
Q. Can I arrange a placement with an agency not on the Qualified Public Interest Organizations list?
A. Yes. As long as the placement meets the criteria to be a "QPIO," and is approved by the Public Interest Law Department Director in advance.
Q. Can I work at the Public Defender's Office to fulfill this requirement?
A. No. Government agencies do not qualify as "QPIO's,” nor do Judge's chambers.
Q. Does the pro bono requirement have to be completed in one term?
A. No. Day students may complete the requirement during two consecutive semesters. Evening students may take longer, as long as the requirement is completed prior to the last semester.
Q. Can I satisfy my pro bono requirement using externship units?
A. Yes, in some circumstances. You will not satisfy the pro bono requirement if you do a judicial externship or if you do an externship with a governmental agency such as the office of the district attorney or public defender. However, if you complete two units in a qualified public interest agency, you not only get academic credit for the externship, but you automatically complete the pro bono requirement. For further information, please go to the Externship Program website or contact the Externsip Office at 213.736.1103.
Q. If I do an externship with a public interest agency, does that fulfill the pro bono requirement?
A. Yes. An externship at a Qualified Public Interest Organization automatically fulfills the pro bono requirement -- as long as you have filed the Statement of Intent form and the externship is a minimum of two units.
Q. How will the Law School know when I start the requirement or when I complete it?
A. That information will be maintained on your official law school transcript. You must file a Statement of Intent form with the Public Interest Law Department before you begin the requirement. When you have completed the requirement, that information is noted on your transcript.
Q. How do I find out what opportunities are available?
A. Drop by the Public Interest Law Department and speak to Professor Sande Buhai, the Public Interest Law Department Director, or call her at 213.736.1156. You'll be amazed at the range of opportunities.
Q. Can I fulfill the requirement in my last semester?
A. No. The Pro Bono Graduation Requirement must be completed before you start your last semester of law school.
Q. What happens if I don't fulfill the requirement?
A. You will not graduate. There are no exceptions or waivers.
Note: The answers to these and other questions are in the Pro Bono Program Handbook. Students must read the handbook in its entirety.
Public Interest Law Department
Founders Hall, Room 240
919 Albany St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015