At the core of our commitment to public service is our Mandatory Pro Bono program (in addition to our Public Service Externship program and in-house Clinical program). Each student is required to complete at least 40 hours of attorney-supervised pro bono legal work, guided by the principles of Rule 6.1 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, in order to graduate. Our program is in the highest American Bar Association (ABA) category for law school pro bono programs, and Idaho is among the few law schools in the entire country, and among the even smaller few in the Western U.S., with such a program.
The purposes of the pro bono requirement include instilling in students a commitment to their responsibility as lawyers to give back to the community and promote justice by assisting the underserved and underrepresented. As a result of the program, students gain practical legal experience, clients are served, and legal service providers gain valuable assistance.
Students are given the opportunity to fulfill their public service requirements in a wide range of settings, including legal service organizations, government agencies, private firms (pro bono cases), nonprofits and legislative offices. All work must be of a legal nature, approved by the Director of the Pro Bono, and professionally supervised.
Unlike our live, in-house legal aid clinic, our mandatory pro bono program does not take direct clients, and our Pro Bono Director cannot give legal advice or assign students to work on a particular client’s case. Rather, our students seek out projects in which attorneys are already involved on a pro bono basis, and our students then apply their legal training to assist the attorney with a client’s cause or other approved pro bono legal work, like group projects. Individuals in need of legal assistance and who are not already working with an attorney should contact the Idaho State Bar Association’s Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program (208-334-4500) and/or its Lawyer Referral Service (208-334-4500). For individuals of modest means who have a matter that might be within the scope of our in-house clinical services, please visit the our clinical programs.
Pro Bono Information
Pro Bono Documents
Group Project Examples
A majority of students find or develop individual projects for an extremely wide variety of clients, in coordination with private, public, and non-profit attorneys throughout Idaho, the West, and the nation. Additionally, a large number of students perform pro bono work in group project settings, like the following.
Farm Worker Rights Project: In this recurring project, groups of students spend weeks preparing for, and days delivering, pro bono services to farm workers, mostly immigrant and migrant workers for whom English is a non-native language, in the Othello, Washington area. The students make the approximate 2-hour drive via carpool and often stay overnight with host families or in community centers. The students, under supervision of licensed attorneys in the area and in coordination with community organizations, educate workers about the law, perform intake interviews and referrals, and give real-time advice on legal matters, including landlord-tenant matters, employment rights, education rights, and other legal matters.
CASA program: Substantial numbers of students, typically coordinated through the Public Interest Law Group or other student groups, receive in-depth training and are then appointed to serve as Guardians Ad Litem representing the interests of children in need and whose rights are at issue in domestic, child welfare, and other court proceedings in the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Courts, the Idaho Second District Court, and other courts throughout Idaho.
Citizenship Day/Week: students travel to Boise (300 miles away) and spend several days, under the supervision of attorneys and in coordination with the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program and other pro bono organizations, providing advice and assistance to immigrants progressing through the final phases of becoming United States Citizens.
Wills Projects: In a group event over one or many days, students educate needy and underserved members of the public regarding common needs and the law regarding wills, living wills, and powers of attorney, and then prepare such documents for the clients; this is all performed under the supervision of attorneys and in cooperation with the Taxation, Probate, & Trust Law Section of the Idaho State Bar, as well as the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program and other pro bono organizations. Underserved and needy groups the project has served in the past include elderly fixed income individuals, same-sex and other unmarried couples, and veterans.
Alternative Spring Break: The Public Interest Law Group typically organizes an alternative spring break program every year. In the past, students have spent their week off from classes providing pro bono services under professional supervision at Katrina devastation sites in the Gulf Coast, at the National Veterans Legal Services Program in Washington, D.C., at the Center for Justice in Spokane, Wash., in the Citizenship Day/Week programs in Boise, and at Idaho Volunteer Lawyer and Idaho Legal Aid offices in Boise.