Poverty Law/Pro Bono Program

Extending our Jesuit Mission with Poverty Law/Pro Bono Work

To earn Pro Bono Distinction from Creighton School of Law, law students who choose to participate in the voluntary pro bono program must complete 50 hours of qualifying service prior to graduation, including at least 35 hours of pro bono service.

Poverty Law/Pro Bono Program

The Creighton School of Law added a poverty law survey course and a civil law poverty externship in the spring of 2017. The two-credit, upper-level elective course (LAW 395 Poverty Law: Legal Needs of the Underrepresented) was made possible by a gift from the Heaney Family Fund. Starting in their second year, students may also enroll in a civil law poverty externship with nonprofit organizations, such as Legal Aid of Nebraska. Students in externships earn four credits: one classroom credit and three non-classroom credits on a pass/fail basis. Students may take a second externship for three non-classroom credits.

Starting in the fall of 2018, the program expanded and named a director, Katelyn Cherney, BA’08, JD, a special assistant professor in the Milton R. Abrahams Legal Clinic. Pro bono and community service hours are now a voluntary component of this program, with students receiving recognition for their time at an annual spring awards luncheon and at Hooding.

What Qualifies as Pro Bono Work?

Qualifying pro bono service is the provision of voluntary, law-related public service under the supervision of a licensed attorney for which the student does not receive academic credit or pay. Such pro bono legal services must be provided without fee or expectation of fee to persons of limited means or charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters that are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means.

Additionally, the following law-related service activities qualify as pro bono service although they do not require attorney supervision: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Office of Public Guardian Court Visitor Program, Sarpy County Teen Court and serving as a legal observer for peaceful protests and other free speech demonstrations.

The delivery of legal services to other disadvantaged populations or community-based nonprofit organizations, or to individuals and organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights may also be considered qualifying pro bono activity subject to the pre-approval of the program director.

What Qualifies as Community Service?

Qualifying community service is any volunteer work completed for a nonprofit organization or other entity primarily serving persons of limited means. Other volunteer work for underserved and vulnerable populations may also be considered qualifying community service subject to the pre-approval of the program director.

The Poverty Law Program sponsors an annual Law School Service Day during which students, faculty, staff and alumni participate in an afternoon of direct service work with local nonprofit organizations like Heart Ministry Center, Keep Omaha Beautiful, Open Door Mission, Restoring Dignity and the Siena-Francis House.

Note: All pro bono and community service activity must be reported to the program director by filling out this form.