Graduating Class Contributes 43,600 Pro Bono and Public Service Hours
Members of the Albany Law School Class of 2020 battled significant hurdles in their final law school semester. None of that stopped them from making a bigger impact by performing legal work for the greater good.
Collectively, this year’s class performed at least 43,600 hours of public service and pro bono work while at Albany Law School. They provided legal assistance to nonprofits, small businesses, immigrants, survivors of domestic and family violence, senior citizens, and other underrepresented groups. As offices switched to remote work due to public health concerns, many students continued their contributions—and their regular coursework—from a distance.
Every year, Albany Law School celebrates the public interest and pro bono work of the graduating class. The effort is organized by The Justice Center, which administers the pro bono program. The Justice Center also operates the law school’s in-house clinics, which provide free legal services to eligible Capital Region residents and offer students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with clients in need.
“Whether they work for a public defender, a district attorney’s office, a legal aid office, or elsewhere, we celebrate all the different interests of our students in serving the tremendous needs in our community,” said Professor Ted De Barbieri, director of the Community Economic Development Clinic and the Pro Bono Program within The Justice Center.
This is the third year the law school has calculated the hourly sum through a self-reporting platform. Awards are given to students who meet the following thresholds: Silver (more than 250 hours), Gold (more than 500 hours), and Platinum (more than 750 hours). Those who complete more than 100 hours of service to the student-run Pro Bono Society are also given Pro Bono Honors.
“It demonstrates to the law school community—and the entire Capital Region and beyond—that our students are contributing tens of thousands of hours to serving clients and institutions who need assistance,” Professor De Barbieri said. “From just a quantitative perspective, we could multiply that by a dollar amount and we would very quickly reach the millions of dollars of legal services. [This number] tells one compelling story of how the students at the law school provide tremendous services in-kind.”
At least 3,500 of the hours were contributed through the Semester in Practice program. The program provides second- and third-year students with semester-long placements in working law offices, judicial chambers, or another workplace of the student’s choosing. Many of those assignments were rapidly switched to a remote setting as offices adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Five students of the graduating class participated in the Pro Bono Scholars program—a 12-week full-time work placement with an academic component. Those students gained skills and provided their services through placements at The Legal Project, Albany County Public Defender’s and District Attorney’s Offices, and The Justice Center at Albany Law School.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, but one thing is clear,” Professor De Barbieri said, “our students will continue to provide valuable legal services as part of their time at the law school.”
2020 Public Service Awards
2020 Pro Bono Honors
2020 Pro Bono Scholars