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Pro Bono Scholars Program

The Pro Bono Scholars Program at St. John’s Law permits eligible students to take the New York bar exam in February of their 3L year in exchange for completing 12 weeks of full-time, supervised, pro bono work from March through May of their final semester.

 

Overview of the Program

The New York Court of Appeals announced the Pro Bono Scholars Program, which will enable students in their final year of law school to sit for the bar exam in February, rather than July, in exchange for working full-time in a qualified pro bono placement from March through the end of May. Participants will graduate in June and become licensed to practice law shortly thereafter. The character-and-fitness process will be fast-tracked for students in the program.  Students are selected by their respective law schools, with final determinations made by the Office of Court Administration.

Available Placements

Placements in SJU’s implementation of the Pro Bono Scholars Program may be in one of the in-house or partnership clinics offered at St. John’s Law. However, students must apply for a placement in their desired clinic during the Spring of their 2L year (or 3L year if part-time).

Credit Hours and Requirements

Participating SJU students are awarded 14 credits total during their PBSP semester. There are two placement components (6 and 4 credits). The first is graded pass-fail, while the second is assigned a letter grade by the placement supervisor. Students also participate in either the Pro Bono Scholars Seminar (2 credits) or, if placed at a partner Clinic, the seminar portion of the Clinic only (2 credits). Finally, there is a practice-writing component in which students build, edit, and revise a portfolio of documents based on their experience; this earns 2 graded credits.

514 hours are required at the placement, which is approximately 43 hours per week exclusive of time in the seminar. If the student participated in an in-house Clinic in the Fall semester before participating and attended the seminar, the seminar does not have to be repeated. In its place, students are required to participate in a 2-credit Pro Bono Scholar Program Seminar requiring submission of weekly reflection papers and 20-page research paper.

Limited to 30 students.

Eligibility

  1. A student’s class rank after the third semester (full-time students) or fifth semester (part-time students) must be in the top 60% of the class, which must be maintained through the fourth (full-time) or sixth (part-time) semester;
  2. Students selected for the program may not serve on executive boards of co-curricular activities at the time of program participation; and
  3. Students who have registered for, or completed, a practicum are ineligible to participate in this program.

Pre-Requisites

Required: Successful completion, by the end of the second-to-last semester, of all degree requirements except for the Advanced Practice Writing Requirement (APWR) and total degree credits. Selected candidates will also need to participate in either an in-house or partner Clinic during both the Fall and Spring semesters of their 3L year, and so must demonstrate acceptance to (or a pending application with) a Clinic at the time of application.

Application

Download the application: Pro Bono Scholars Program Application 2022-2023. For 2022-23, the application deadline is April 8, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

Additional Information

Please review Chief Judge Lippman’s program guide and other information on the Pro Bono Scholars website.

Questions?

Please contact Professor Ann Goldweber.


Catalogue Descriptions of the PBSP Courses

PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM PLACEMENT I (6 Credits) – The New York Court of Appeals’ Pro Bono Scholars Program allows selected students to sit for the bar exam in their final semester and then undertake 12 weeks of full-time pro bono service at a Law School clinic. Students receive a total of 10 credits for their work. 6 credits are pass/fail; they are taken as this course, PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM PLACEMENT I.   4 credits are graded by the clinic supervisor; they are taken as the co-requisite course, PBSP PLACEMENT II. A total of 514 hours at the clinic is required (approximately 43 hours per week). Applications are accepted in the Spring semester preceding a student’s final year. Applications for this competitive program are then reviewed by a committee of faculty and administrators. Enrollment is limited. Pre-requisite – successful completion, by the end of the second-to-last semester, of all degree requirements except for total degree credits and/or the Advanced Practice Writing Requirement. Eligibility – (1) A student’s class rank after the third semester (full-time students) or fifth semester (part-time students) must be in the top 60% of the class, which must be maintained through the fourth semester; (2) students selected for the program may not serve on executive boards of co-curricular activities while participating in the program; and (3) students who have registered for, or completed, a practicum are ineligible to participate in this program. Co-requisites – PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM PLACEMENT PART II; PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM SEMINAR; PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM PRACTICE WRITING TUTORIAL.

PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM PLACEMENT II (4 Credits) – The New York Court of Appeals’ Pro Bono Scholars Program allows selected students to sit for the bar exam in their final semester and then undertake 12 weeks of full-time pro bono service at a Law School clinic. Students receive a total of 10 credits for their work. 6 credits are pass/fail; they are taken as the co-requisite course, PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM PLACEMENT I.   4 credits are graded by the clinic supervisor; they are taken as this course, PBSP PLACEMENT II. For pre-requisites and eligibility, see PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM PLACEMENT I. Co-requisites – PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM PLACEMENT PART I; PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM SEMINAR; PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM PRACTICE WRITING TUTORIAL.

PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM SEMINAR (2 Credits) – For students who are selected for the New York Court of Appeals’ Pro Bono Scholars Program.  Students in the seminar build upon the skills and professional values they learned up until that point in law school, including the skills most relevant to their pro bono experience: identifying and resolving ethical issues, client/witness interviewing, client counseling, legal research, writing, advocacy, negotiation, mediation, case/project management, and working with teams and supervisors.  They will also reflect upon their clinical experience, with special consideration of access to justice issues.   Grades are based on in-class exercises, weekly reflection papers, class participation, and an oral presentation on a relevant legal, professional, or justice issue.  Co-requisites – PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM PLACEMENT PART I; PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM PLACEMENT PART II; PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM PRACTICE WRITING TUTORIAL.

PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM PRACTICE WRITING TUTORIAL (2 credits) – For students who are selected for the New York Court of Appeals’ Pro Bono Scholars Program. Students in the program will build and refine a portfolio of documents, properly redacted, that they created during their clinical or field experience. Midway through the program, an individual conference will be held with a faculty member to review the students’ written work and to provide feedback. The final portfolio is due at the end of the program. Grades are based on the quality of the student’s portfolio. Satisfies the Advanced Practice Writing Requirement. Co-requisites – PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM PLACEMENT PART I; PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM PLACEMENT PART II; PRO BONO SCHOLARS PROGRAM SEMINAR.

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