Law class of 2018 contributed more than $85 million worth of pro bono services

The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) again measured how much law schools contribute to the delivery of much-needed legal services through clinics, other experiential courses, and pro bono activities of law students.

In December 2018, 84 law schools reported that 16,502 law students in the class of 2018 contributed more than 3.48 million hours in legal services as part of their legal education, an average of about 211 hours per student. Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization coalition, estimates the value of volunteer time to be $24.69 an hour. Using this number, the total value of the students’ time at these schools is estimated to be in excess of $85.9 million. The schools represent nearly half of the students in American Bar Association accredited law schools in the class of 2018. AALS made the announcement in conjunction with its annual meeting that took place in New Orleans, January 2-6.

Many schools reported that some hours go uncounted or are difficult to track so actual contributions were likely higher. The project also did not include hours contributed by students in law school master’s degree programs such as an LL.M.

Law students contributed hours through a variety of efforts, including externships at legal aid and community organizations, law school clinics, and law student organization led projects. These hands-on or experiential learning opportunities enabled students to apply classroom teachings to legal problems under the supervision of lawyers and professors. Students received practical experience in law and communities received critical legal services.

“In order for law to serve our constitutional democracy, it must be genuinely open to all,” said Vicki Jackson, 2019 AALS president and Thurgood Marshall Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School. “Without lawyers, many cannot understand their rights or protect their jobs, children, credit, homes, or neighborhoods. The significant pro bono work by law students, reported today, bodes well for the future of law and lawyers achieving the ideals of equal justice in our democracy.”

A full report on the survey is available on the AALS website, www.aals.org.
 

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