The Law School is proud to announce a new award that will be offered to students who are committed to making a contribution to the community by dedicating part of their legal education to public interest or pro bono causes. Recipients will be honored at the Law School Awards Banquet every March. More importantly, however, as students earn this recognition, they will learn first-hand how to use their legal education to give service and benefit the community.
The J. Reuben Clark Public Interest Service Award will be presented to all students who perform 100 hours of unpaid legal work in a public interest cause during their three years of law school and who submit the necessary (and very brief) paperwork. Qualifying work includes public interest externships, community service hours for law help and service-learning courses, directed research for a public interest cause, and pro bono work.
Specific definitions and rules are as follows:
- “Public interest work” means performing work (a) offering direct legal services to underprivileged or underrepresented groups; (b) with non-profit organizations that advocate on behalf of such underprivileged or underrepresented groups or the environment; or (c) with organizations against which claims are filed by underprivileged or underrepresented groups (i.e. the INS, school districts, Welfare Department, Social Security) that is intended to improve policies and procedures benefiting such groups.
- “Underprivileged or underrepresented groups” include the indigent, minorities, children, disabled, women, and elderly. Other groups not listed here may qualify pursuant to approval by the PILF board. If the activity does not clearly fit within this definition, students should seek approval before engaging in the activity.
- “Unpaid” means that the employer does not offer an hourly wage or salary. Cost-of-living or travel stipends from the employer will not disqualify a student from counting his or her hours towards the award.
- Work done for externship credit, law help courses, or directed research through the law school can be counted towards the award if it fits the above definition of public interest work. However, where law help courses allow students to count non-service hours (i.e. attending lectures, assigned readings) towards course requirements, only direct service hours and hours preparing specifically for direct service should be counted towards the award.
- Students may receive the award only once. It will be awarded in the year during which the students complete the 100-hour requirement.
Record Keeping Requirements
A one-page form must be filled out for each project (i.e. each externship, LawHelp course, directed research project, or pro bono case) that will qualify towards the 100 hour requirement. The form may be obtained from and submitted to the Fishbowl. The form will require the following information: (1) brief description of the project; (2) total number of service hours dedicated to the project; (3) signature of student.
The service award forms must be submitted to the Fishbowl by the following deadlines.
- For summer work, turn it in as soon as possible after completing the work.
- For work done during the Fall Semester, turn it in as soon as possible after completing the work.
- For work done during the Winter semester, the deadline is March 3rd at 5pm, to allow preparation of the award. For this deadline, students may submit a log with projected hours for the final weeks of the semester.
The Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) has agreed to administer the award each year. Please feel free to direct any questions or other inquiries to the PILF board. If you have any questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.