Alex Kain got involved with the King County Bar Association's Domestic Violence Family Law Clinic when she started at Seattle University School of Law last fall.
Kain had already volunteered for several years with domestic violence survivors before law school, but chose to move over to the clinic to learn more about family law and the local court system, meet local attorneys and continue serving her community throughout law school.
"I've done that and more in the last year with KCBA. The learning experience has been invaluable," she said. "Though I was already working in DV for a while before law school, the clients I've met at the clinic taught me a lot about the legal consequences of violence and how something as simple as a form can impact a person's safety, whether they have a place to live, and what rights they have to their children."
Kain is just one of hundreds of students at Seattle University School of Law who have contributed thousands of volunteer hours through the Pledge Pro Bono Program. In just its second year, the program reported that 214 students - nearly a quarter of the student body - have taken the Pro Bono Pledge and completed more than 9,500 hours this past academic year.
That's a 22 percent increase from the first year of the program (176 students). In total, 262 students, including prior graduates, have pledged since the program launched in October 2011. About 80 percent of the hours were for legal pro bono activities and the rest involved other community service volunteer work.
SU law students have always engaged in a great deal of meaningful work outside of the classroom. The voluntary pledge program takes an important next step by inviting students to commit to a minimum number of hours of pro bono and volunteer service before graduation, then formally acknowledging those who meet their goals.
The program offers resources to those who want to volunteer and allows those who already do so to track their time. While working to help others, students also build their professional profiles and networks of professional contacts.
"We are grateful that so many students are contributing their time and skills in the community through pro bono work," Dean Mark C. Niles said. "In addition to helping people who have critical legal needs, students who Pledge Pro Bono gain practical experience and skills."
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