Law schools give back to the tune of $111 million

 
Law schools get a bad rap for lots of things, such as being too expensive and too wedded to their sometimes-called stuffy education model.  
 
But it would be hard to argue that they are not assets to their communities. 
 
For the fourth consecutive year, the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) measured how much law schools contribute to the delivery of legal services through clinics, other experiential courses and pro bono activities of graduating law students.
 
In November, 105 law schools reported that 19,885 law students in the class of 2019 contributed more than 4.38 million hours in legal services as part of their legal education, an average of about 220 hours per student.
 
Those benefitting from such efforts are the poor, the working poor, veterans, the elderly, children, abused women, immigrants ... 
 
In short, those who really, really need the help. 
 
Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization coalition, estimates the value of volunteer time to be $25.43 an hour. Using this number, the total value of the students’ time at these schools is estimated to be in excess of $111.5 million. The schools represent more than half of the students in American Bar Association accredited law schools in the class of 2019. AALS made the announcement in advance of its annual meeting taking place in Washington, D.C., January 2-5.
 
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. program.
 
Law students contributed hours through a variety of efforts, including externships at legal aid and community organizations, law school clinics, and student organization projects. These hands-on or experiential learning opportunities enable students to apply classroom teachings to legal problems under the guidance of lawyers and professors. Through these efforts, students received practical experience in law and communities received critical legal services.
 
“Access to justice is a cornerstone of legal education and the legal profession,” said Darby Dickerson, 2020 AALS President and Dean at UIC John Marshall Law School in Chicago. “The pro bono opportunities represented in this project provide valuable and unique experiences for students as they prepare for their careers while helping to meet the legal needs in often-underserved communities across the country. The AALS applauds these graduates for their dedication to serving those in need. 
 
Law students contributed hours to hundreds of efforts serving thousands of clients, including the following projects and clinics:
 
·       Albany Law School – Elder Rights Project 
·       Brigham Young University Clark Law School – Community Legal Clinic
·       University of California, Irvine School of Law – Domestic Violence Clinic  
·       The Catholic University Columbus School of Law – Tax Clinic  
·       University of Chicago, The Law School – Pro Bono Board
·       University of Cincinnati College of Law – Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic
·       Fordham University – Legislative and Policy Advocacy Clinic
·       Georgetown University – Health Justice Alliance Law Clinic
·       University of Georgia School of Law – Family Justice Clinic
·       Harvard University Law School – Spring Break Pro Bono Projects
·       UIC John Marshall Law School – Pro Bono Litigation Clinic
·       The University of Kansas School of Law – Legal Aid Clinic
·       Marquette University Law School – Estate Planning Clinic
·       University of Miami School of Law – Legal Writing Class at Correctional Institution
·       University of Montana Alexander Blewett III School of Law – Veterans Advocacy Clinic
·       Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law – Bluhm Legal Clinic
·       St. Mary’s University School of Law – Center for Legal and Social Justice
·       University of Oregon School of Law – Service Project for Asylum Seekers
·       The University of Tulsa College of Law – Project Commutation
·       Vanderbilt University Law School – Property Rights & Lending Reform Project
·       Villanova University Widger School of Law – Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic
 
A full report on the survey is available on the AALS website.