Definition of Pro Bono

Definition of “Pro Bono” for purposes of the Pro Bono Pledge

For purposes of the Pro Bono Pledge only, we define pro bono work as:

  1. voluntary;
  2. uncompensated;
  3. law-related work;
  4. performed under the supervision of an attorney; and
  5. to assist low-income persons or others who do not have access to legal services, or to otherwise advance the public interest, public service, or social justice.

Notes and comments:

  1. “Uncompensated” means that the student will not receive academic credit, money, or any other type of compensation. Hours in excess of those required for Clinic or Field Placement credit units will qualify, however, so long as the other criteria are met. Receipt of an Edley Grant for summer public interest work does not constitute “compensation” for pro bono work performed during the academic year; the grant is compensation for the summer work.
  2. “Law-related work” is broadly construed.
  3. “Supervision of an attorney” is defined as followed: A licensed attorney must ensure that students receive appropriate training, guidance, and evaluation, as well as review all student work product before it is provided to clients or presented to the community, whether orally or in writing. While constant, physical presence may not be necessary, the supervisor should be readily accessible to answer questions that may arise in the course of the students’ work. Finally, the supervisor must ensure compliance with all applicable ethics rules and laws.
  4. Government work will qualify so long as it is uncompensated (as defined above) and the other criteria are met.
  5. Training hours are only recognized if students perform the substantive legal work for which they are trained. Up to ten hours of training time (total over the course of the students’ time at Berkeley Law) will qualify; training in excess of ten hours does not qualify. 
  6. Travel time does not qualify.
  7. Examples of other work that does not qualify: work for non-SLPS student organizations and journals (including but not limited to the Berkeley Law Foundation), scholarship, fundraising, partisan political activities, and community service that is not related to the law (e.g., volunteering at a homeless shelter).
  8. Work performed during a full-time summer internship or job does not qualify as pro bono even if it is unpaid and otherwise satisfies the Berkeley Law Pro Bono Definition.   Pro Bono work performed over the summer that is not part of a full-time internship/job may qualify. Examples of work that will always qualify include: (1) SLPS and BLAST leader work in preparation for the Fall and Spring terms; (2) Continued pro bono work with SLPS/BLAST (e.g. Foster Education Project, P-CAP, IRAP, Youth Advocacy Project, Prisoner Advocacy Network, Workers’ Rights Clinic); and (3) Pro Bono opportunities advertised through the Pro Bono Program Opportunities email list. Students should confirm whether other summer work qualifies as pro bono with the Director of the Pro Bono Program.
  9. Work performed prior to matriculation at Berkeley Law does not qualify. We have adjusted the hour requirement for Transfer and LL.M. students accordingly.

Again, the foregoing definition is for purposes of the Berkeley Law Pro Bono Pledge only and differs from the definitions of pro bono used for other pro bono requirements, including Edley Grants and the New York State Bar.