The Florida Bar Foundation announced the winners of the 2020 Florida Pro Bono Law School Challenge April 29. The University of Miami School of Law won the top honor, the MVP Pro Bono Champion Award, for matching the most students with its own alumni. Florida State University College of Law won for most student engagement. For the second year in a row, Florida A&M University College of Law won for the most alumni engagement. Stetson University College of Law won for the most law school clinic engagement.
“Though the Challenge was hampered by the onset of the coronavirus, it was still able to match 200 lawyers with law students on full representation cases from 20 civil legal aid organizations,” said Claud B. Nelson III, the Foundation’s pro bono program director. “In addition to increasing access to legal aid, the Challenge recruits new pro bono lawyers, provides real world experience to law students and strengthens the culture of pro bono in Florida’s law schools.”
This is the second iteration of the Challenge, after a pilot version in 2019. Using an online platform at FloridaLawSchoolChallenge.org to match students with alumni mentors, Florida’s law schools compete to see which can take the most pro bono cases. Based on feedback from the pilot, the 2020 Challenge was shortened to eight weeks and out-of-state law school alumni were able to take cases. Students and lawyers from all of Florida’s 12 law schools participated this year, as did 47 Florida lawyers who graduated from out-of-state law schools.
A core part of the Foundation’s mission is to promote public service among lawyers by making it an integral part of the law school experience. By connecting students with alumni to partner on pro bono cases from legal aid organizations, the Foundation increases access to justice and promotes pro bono work.