The students measured in the AALS report hail from 80 law schools and participated in a broad spectrum of free legal services including clinics, public service projects and other efforts, notes the report.
“Law schools and their students play a vital role in strengthening access to justice and providing invaluable services for people and causes that otherwise would go without representation,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, AALS president and dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. “AALS is proud to highlight the efforts of the law school class of 2022 and the impact they have on local communities and across the globe."
According to the report, which was unveiled at the association’s annual meeting held earlier this month in San Diego, the students measured contributed an average of 160 hours each. Nonprofit coalition Independent Sector estimated the value of that time clocks in at $29.95 an hour, which means those students donated an eye-opening $80,928,000 in legal services value.
"Bloomberg Law will recognize a selection of law firms, companies and non-profit organizations that are innovating in their successful approaches to pro bono legal service across the U.S. and beyond.https://news.bloomberglaw.com/securities-law/call-for-nominations-2023-bloomberg-law-pro-bono-innovators"
AALS noted that many schools indicated challenges keeping tabs of precisely how many hours the students worked, and it is likely the estimated figures fall shy of the actual size of the contributions. Further, contributions made by students in master’s degree programs like LL.M. were not tracked at all.
According to the organization, the survey has been conducted every year since 2016 with the exceptions of 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19-related complications.
"Lawyer friends, make it a resolution this year to do as much pro bono work as you are able to manage. Even just a few hours a month. Access to justice can not only be for the wealthy. It starts with us."
Some notable projects supported by the students:
- University of Baltimore School of Law: Innocence Project Clinic
- University of California, Berkeley School of Law: Arts and Innovation Representation
- Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology: Environmental and Energy Law Clinic
- Columbia Law School: Science, Health, and Information Clinic
- Emory University School of Law: Barton Appeal for Youth Clinic
- Harvard Law School: Recording Artists Project
- University of Iowa College of Law: Estate Planning
- Loyola Law School, Los Angeles: Education Advocacy Clinic
- University of Miami School of Law: Startup Clinic
- University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law: Entrepreneurial Legal Services and Intellectual Property Clinic
- Notre Dame Law School: Religious Liberty Clinic
- University of Pittsburgh School of Law: Ukrainian Legal Assistance Project
- Seattle University School of Law: Housing Justice Clinic
- St. John’s University School of Law: Domestic Violence Litigation Clinic
- University of Virginia School of Law: Migrant Farmworker Project
Columbia Law School’s Science, Health, and Information Clinic, which was recognized in the report, works to provide legal services related to “more equitable access to scientific, technical, and medical knowledge,” according to the law school.
Additionally, Notre Dame Law School, also highlighted above, was recognized for its Religious Liberty Clinic. The clinic aims to enhance religious freedoms for individuals and support their ability “to exercise and express those beliefs and to live according to them,” according to a statement from the school.“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.”