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What is Michigan Law's Pro Bono Pledge?

Michigan's Pro Bono Pledge asks students to perform 50 hours or more of "qualifying" pro bono work over their three years in law school. To qualify, students' work must be:
  • law-related
  • supervised or approved by an attorney;
  • provided to the client free of charge or at a substantially reduced rate
  • not for credit and uncompensated
  • at least 10 of the 50 hours must be completed while classes are in session
  • provided to underrepresented persons, interests, or communities on behalf of a nonprofit or government organization approved by the Pro Bono Program
How can my organization participate in Michigan's Pro Bono Pledge?

We have two requirements: (1) you must agree to provide ongoing oversight of the student volunteer during his/her work on the project and (2) students must be covered under your organization's malpractice insurance because Michigan Law is unable to provide malpractice insurance for law students doing pro bono work. We also ask for, but do not require, an Organization Evaluation so we can get your feedback.

Please note that there are no guarantees that students will select your project. 

How do I register my organization and create a project?
We have a password-protected online database where organizations post projects and students can log in to select a project. The first time you use our online system, you create a username and password and then register your organization. To add additional projects in the future, you skip step one, and go directly to step two, using the username and password you created.

Step 1—Create Your Organization's Account: To create an account, go to https://friend.weblogin.umich.edu/friend/ and enter an email address for your organization's account. An automatic email will be generated and sent to the email account you provide. Open that email and click on "Create friend account." Then re-enter your email address and create a password for your account. (If you have any questions about friend accounts, more information is available here.). If you already have a University of Michigan login (a umich.edu address), you can skip this step and use your umich email address for your organization's account instead.

Step 2—Create your Project(s): Go to http://www.law.umich.edu/probono/pages/OrgProjects.aspx, log in using your friend account, click on "Add New Project Here," and fill in the form with your project; please click "Save" to submit the project to our office. If the project meets the above criteria, we will approve it, and it will be added to the online student database, where students will be able to select your project.
Can I edit the information I already submitted?
Yes, by logging in with the e-mail address and password that you used to post the information originally. To change the organization information, click on "Edit Organization Information." To change something about a particular project, click on that project and then scroll to the bottom and click on "Edit."

Who will be able to see my organization's information?
Neither the organizational information, nor the project listings are visible to the public. Rather, each organization will only be able to see its own information. Only our office and our current students will have access to the information you provide.

What kind of projects are you seeking?
The project must be law-related and would ideally expose the student to an area of law or provide a chance to develop some legal skills. For example, you can request student help for a one-time research project, such as a writing a brief or a memo, or you can request students come to your office every week on a recurring schedule throughout a semester (or beyond). Please do not hesitate to contact Amy Sankaran, Director of Externships and Pro Bono Programs, at aharwell@umich.edu or 734.764.7787, if you would like help crafting an appropriate project.

How does the student select projects?

Students will find out about available projects in three main ways. First, students can log into the password-protected database to view all current pro bono opportunities. Second, students have completed forms identifying their main areas of interest, and we often contact students when a project in their interest area is added. Third, we have a student listserv for publicizing projects. 

Please note that despite these various ways of publicizing a project, there are no guarantees that students will select your project.

When a student finds a project he or she is interested in, the student will contact your organization's contact person directly to get started.

Can I pre-select which student works with me? What if I have special requirements?
While students select the projects themselves, you are welcome to create special requirements. That is, if you need someone who speaks Spanish, has taken a course in refugee and asylum law, has a car, and so on, just say so on the project form. Only students who are qualified will respond to your posting.

What types of work and assignments are best suited for law students?
The most important thing to keep in mind is the students' academic schedule, as many of our students leave Ann Arbor during breaks, between semesters, and during the summer. Also, they are much less responsive during finals. See our academic calendar, which may help you structure your project accordingly. Our program is likely best-suited for less time-sensitive projects since it may take a student longer than it might take an attorney to do the same task.

What if I have a concern about my student volunteer(s)
Please let us know as soon as possible if you have any concerns about a student; don't wait for the Organization Evaluation at the end of the project. We'd love to know about a problem as soon as possible so we can help address it.

If you have any qeustions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Amy Sankaran, Director of Pro Bono and Externship Programs, at aharwell@umich.edu or 734.764.7787.