Foundation kicks off third year of Florida Pro Bono Law School Challenge

The 2021 Florida Pro Bono Law School Challenge will kick off on Feb. 1, 2021. The statewide competition, now in its third year, connects Florida law students with lawyers to partner on pro bono cases from local legal aid organizations. Students and lawyers can visit Feb. 1 through March 26, 2021, to pick a case. All 12 of Florida’s law schools will compete to see which can take the most cases.

As a result of the ongoing pandemic, many legal aid programs are operating remotely and offering virtual pro bono opportunities. Students and lawyers will be encouraged to work on their cases virtually and to follow the CDC’s guidelines, which include wearing a mask and social distancing, if they must meet in person.

More than 500 pro bono cases have been taken through the Challenge. Students and lawyers who completed surveys about the Challenge have expressed gratitude for real world learning opportunities and the chance to mentor.

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. The Foundation launched the pilot version of the competition in January 2019. More than 300 students and lawyers were matched on cases that year, and another 200 matched in 2020 before the rise of COVID-19 in the spring hindered the competition.  Florida Coastal School of Law and the University of Miami School of Law won the top honors in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

“Though there will be obstacles due to the pandemic, we know that the Challenge will not only provide learning and mentorship opportunities for law students and lawyers, but also much needed legal representation to many low-income Floridians,” Florida Bar Foundation President Stephen R. Senn said.