Guidelines for Professional Conduct
When working on your project, please remember to act in a professionally responsible manner. The guidelines listed below are intended to remind you of some of the basic standards of professional behavior. This list, however, is by no means exhaustive. If you encounter a problem or an ethical dilemma, please do not hesitate to contact the Pro Bono Program student director or faculty advisor.
- Any information regarding cases you work on must be kept confidential. You may only discuss the facts of cases with the supervising attorney.
- Stay in consistent touch with the Pro Bono Program student coordinator and with your supervising lawyer. This means that if, for example, you will be late meeting with the lawyer or if you have a problem that you need to discuss with the lawyer, you should call the lawyer to let them know about it.
- Take deadlines seriously. If you cannot meet a deadline, communicate this information to the supervising lawyer as well as to the student coordinator from your class.
- If you agree to take a posting and later change your mind, you must contact both the lawyer and the student coordinator from your class.
- You may use Lexis-Nexis or Westlaw for research related to pro bono projects.
- For work on pro bono projects, you may use the computers, printer and phone in the Pro Bono office. You may also use the Pro Bono Program fax machine, which is located in Dean Novinsky's office in the student services suite
- Be professional in all communications with you supervising attorney and student coordinator. All e-mails should be formal and free of spelling and grammatical errors.
- If you have any questions about confidentiality, ethics, or the substance of your case, please contact Dean Novinsky.
What is pro bono work?
There are four main requirements for a law student project to qualify as pro bono:
- The law student must engage in law-related activities.
- The law student’s work must be supervised or approved by a lawyer. This requirement includes, at a minimum, a lawyer's review of the student work product.
- The services must be provided to the client for free or at a substantially reduced rate (whether reduced rate work will qualify as pro bono depends on several factors, including the actual rate being charged the client, whether the attorney would bill for work performed by law students, the economic factors preventing the client from obtaining full-rate service, and the population affected by the legal issues involved).
- The activities must be on behalf of person(s) of limited financial means, person(s) with limited access to legal representation, or a nonprofit, civic, community, religious or community organization.
In addition, there are certain activities that do not qualify as pro bono regardless of whether they meet the above requirements. Work done for law journals, work resulting in submission of writing into a competition or a journal, work relating to symposiums, conferences and panel discussions, any activities pertaining to fund-raising, work required for enrollment in a clinic or externship, and any electioneering activities done for a partisan organization where the main objective is to elect a specific candidate, do not qualify as pro bono.
If you have further questions about what counts as pro bono, please email your Class Coordinator.
What can I log as pro bono hours?
Once a student signs up for a pro bono project, they can get credit for any time they spend working on the project. This includes training sessions, time spent doing research, and time traveling on behalf of the project. The same policy applies for any group pro bono projects in which a student participates, or a project a student creates on their own.
Can 1L students participate in pro bono?
1L students may participate in any pro bono project they wish to, as long as the project is open to 1Ls.
Can I receive pro bono credit for my summer internship?
Students may receive up to 25 hours of pro bono credit for law-related activities provided for free or at a substantially reduced rate to clients of limited financial means, limited access to legal representation, or non-profit, civic, community or governmental organizations. The student must earn less than one and a half times the minimum wage of the jurisdiction where the work is being done for the time in which they are providing pro bono services. You may submit your summer hours on My Carolina Law.
Is there a deadline for submitting hours?
The Pro Bono Program strongly encourages students to submit timesheets as soon as they have completed their pro bono work or if they have done a significant amount. However, students may log hours for work as late as April of their third year for any work they have done during law school. The board will verify any hours submitted to make sure the student did in fact perform the services.