Pro Bono Requirement
All students at the Southern Illinois University School of Law are required to complete 35 hours of pro bono work prior to graduation. While many schools encourage, support, or recognize pro bono work, this requirement is the first of its kind for a law school in Illinois. SIU Law students have a history of public and community service, including pro bono work. In the 2016- 2017 academic year, students completed more than 20,000 hours of volunteer legal work including pro bono, clinical work, and public service externships.
Students learn more about the pro bono requirement in the Professionalism and the Law course and once each year on Pro Bono Day. Timed to coincide with the annual celebration of pro bono by the American Bar Association in October of each year, Pro Bono Day exposes students to the steps needed to meet the pro bono requirement and the opportunities for pro bono work both inside and outside the School of Law.
Pro bono work has long been thought to improve the law student experience. According to Illinoisprobono.org, the state-wide pro bono website for Illinois, in addition to providing services to people of limited means, law students benefit from performing pro bono work “through exposure to many personal and professional benefits that ultimately will help them become better lawyers, including … development or enhancement of many legal practice skills, including interviewing, research, writing, trial preparation, case management and interpersonal skills.” Students who do pro bono work can also improve their career prospects by “gaining professional experience, enhancing resumes and building relationships with practicing attorneys who may be important contacts for future employment.”