Akron Law Class of 2020 sets record for number of hours spent on community and pro bono service work

The University of Akron School of Law in Ohio recently set a record for the number of hours its students spent doing community service or pro bono work. The class of 2020 logged 16,489 hours. 

“The entire class of 2020 has much to be proud of in terms of community and pro bono service,” School of Law Dean Christopher Peters said. “The class total of 16,489 hours is the highest of any class since we implemented the pro bono service requirement. That works out to an average of 108 hours per student.”

Christina Bass went well above the average. She was awarded the Akron Law’s Community and Pro Bono Publico Service Student of the Year. Bass provided 1,068 hours of service during her time in law school. Most of her service hours were contributed during her year as an AmeriCorps VISTA national service volunteer at the County of Summit Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board (ADM).

“The AmeriCorps volunteer program was something that I had wanted to do for a really long time, and there just really was never the right opportunity,” Bass said. “Then in 2019 I was recruited for the position at the ADM Board. Since it was my last year in law school, I thought this was the best opportunity I was going to have. It meant I had to give up a job at a startup medical device company that paid pretty well, and that was scary, but I had always wanted to do this.”

The 36 students who achieved 150 hours or more were recognized by the Ohio Association for Justice. The graduates will each receive an Ohio Access to Justice Award certificate and a cover letter signed by both Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor and the Ohio Access to Justice Foundation’s board president, Kimberly C. Shumate. Recipients who go on to pass the Ohio bar exam will also be recognized for their service at the swearing-in ceremony. 

On May 21, University of Akron held an additional virtual Student Pro Bono Awards Recognition ceremony.  At that event, 26 graduates who completed at least 300 service hours were honored with special cords. 

Although virtually every U.S. law school encourages students to engage in pro bono and community service, University of Akron is one of only about 40 that require a minimum number of pro bono service hours as a condition for graduation. 

“We implemented the requirement to ensure that every law student experiences the benefits of pro bono and community service, to promote their future pro bono involvement as practitioners, and to provide direct knowledge of the plight of persons of limited means and their access to justice,” Peters said. “I really can’t recall a graduate who didn’t say they valued the experience.” 

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