Students at law schools across the country contributed pro bono legal services valued at nearly $86 million in 2018, a survey by the Association of American Law Schools in Washington, D.C., finds.
The annual survey by AALS, which represents nearly half of all students in American Bar Association-accredited law schools, measures contributions of legal services through clinics, experiential courses, and the pro bono activities of law students. According to the report, students contributed time through a broad range of efforts, including externships at legal aid and community organizations, law school clinics, and various projects organized by law students.
According to the analysis, eighty-four law schools reported that 16,502 law students in the class of 2018 contributed nearly 3.5 million hours of legal services as part of their legal education, an average of approximately 211 hours per student. Using the latest estimated value of a volunteer hour ($24.69) from Independent Sector, the total value of the students' time is estimated at more than $85.9 million.
At the same time, many schools report that some hours go uncounted or are difficult to track, so actual contributions were likely higher. And the survey did not include hours contributed by students in law school master's degree programs such as an LL.M.
"In order for law to serve our constitutional democracy, it must be genuinely open to all," said AALS president Vicki Jackson. "Without lawyers, many cannot understand their rights or protect their jobs, children, credit, homes, or neighborhoods. The significant pro bono work by law students...bodes well for the future of law and lawyers achieving the ideals of equal justice in our democracy."
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