Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Forty Hours

As you may or may not know, Loyola was the very first law school in California to institute a mandatory pro bono work requirement to graduate. During your three (or four) years, you must complete 40 hours of approved pro bono legal work. These hours generally cannot be related to your summer internships or clerkships. It may sound like a lot of work but there really are A TON of opportunities to earn pro bono hours from organized clinics, to election volunteering, to random opportunities emailed to you daily.

Full disclosure: I went to catholic schools most of my life where community service was just part of the fabric of attendance. I had service requirements for elementary school and a one-hundred-hour service requirement at Damien High School. The first time I didn’t have a service requirement was when I went to undergrad. Needless to say, the pro bono requirement did not faze me at all and was actually a feature that drew me to Loyola!

Just thinking about the requirement forces you to consider what’s important to you – what do you really feel passionately about? For me, that is housing. I came of age during the Great Recession when close friends of mine were seriously threatened by the prospect of losing their homes. I worked my very first job in the legal field during that time and it happened to be in bankruptcy. Every single day, I met and spoke with clients whose mortgages were vastly greater than the value of every last possession they owned, including their homes. It was an incredibly rewarding experience. It seems counter-intuitive but, through bankruptcy, many clients were actually able to reestablish their financial footing and put their lives back on track. My first pro bono position was naturally at a firm that specializes in tenant-land law, as you well know if you have read my prior blog posts.

You can start working toward your pro bono requirement after the first semester of your 1L year. Just like summer employment (also discussed in prior posts), Loyola delays when you can start accruing hours until after finals because your first semester is all about your classes and how to succeed academically. Once the last day of finals is over though, you are free to start earning your pro bono hours. I won’t lie, I actually thought that we couldn’t start earning hours until second semester started. When I applied to work over the winter break, my goal was really just to gain experience and put my newly acquired knowledge into action in an area that excited me. It was only after I started that I realized I could also earn pro bono credits. All-in-all, I’d say my mistake worked out well.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.