The Florida Bar Foundation announced the winners of its Florida Pro Bono Law School Challenge at The Florida Bar Annual Convention June 27. Florida Coastal School of Law won the top honor, the MVP Pro Bono Champion Award, for matching the most students with its own alumni. Florida A&M University College of Law won for the most alumni engagement; Barry University School of Law won for most student engagement.
“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,” said Claud B. Nelson III, pro bono program director. “By connecting students with alumni to partner on a pro bono case from a legal aid organization, we hope to inspire both to continue volunteering as pro bono lawyers.”
The Florida Pro Bono Law School Challenge launched on Jan. 7, 2019, as a pilot project. Using an online platform to match students with alumni mentors, Florida’s law schools competed to see which could take the most pro bono cases during the spring semester. During the four months of the challenge, students and lawyers from all of Florida’s 12 law schools worked on 306 unique cases.
At FloridaLawSchoolChallenge.org, students picked a pro bono case and were matched with an alumni mentor. Cases posted by legal aid organizations on FloridaProBonoMatters.org populated the law school challenge site.
According to the ABA Center for Pro Bono, more than 58% of lawyers who provided pro bono legal services as law students said doing so made them “more” or “far more” likely to provide pro bono services after graduating.
“The number of cases taken exceeded our expectations,” Juliette E. Lippman, president of the Foundation, said. “We are so impressed with the interest and commitment of the students, and the dedication of the lawyers who took these cases.”