Pro Bono Scholars Program Overview
In the Public Interest
Pro Bono Scholars spend at least seven weeks of their 1L summer at a public interest organization of their choosing. The firm encourages the Pro Bono Scholars to choose a placement that matches their own interests and will provide them with true substantive experience. Some candidates have applied for (or even received an offer from) a public interest organization during the selection process; others have worked closely with our pro bono practice to identify and secure public interest placements after being selected as a Pro Bono Scholar. While we prefer that candidates work with organizations that have a strong fit with our pro bono practice, particularly those groups with which we already have relationships and that operate in the communities where we have offices, there are few limitations on the organizations with which a Pro Bono Scholar might work.
Public interest opportunities are not limited to advocacy, as Akin Gump’s pro bono practice includes a wide variety of transactional opportunities. The firm’s single largest pro bono client is KIPP, a nationwide network of nonprofit charter schools, for which the firm provides a wide range of transactional counseling. Akin Gump also represents other nonprofits and small businesses, both in the United States and around the world. For instance, we work with the Grassroots Business Fund, which helps incubate, build and support businesses that empower the poor in developing countries as independent entrepreneurs and consumers of affordable goods and services. We also counseled LeapFrog, the first international micro-insurance equity fund.
Time with the Firm
In addition to their time at a public interest organization, Pro Bono Scholars also spend three weeks at Akin Gump during their first summer. They receive substantive assignments in a variety of subject areas. Pro Bono Scholars are provided a stipend of $20,000 for their time spent working at a public interest organization (minimum seven weeks) and are paid the summer associate salary while employed by the firm.
The Pro Bono Scholars’ three weeks at the firm are rounded out by training sessions with Akin Gump’s pro bono partner and introductions to the firm’s commercial practices, including a multiday orientation meeting in Washington, D.C. Pro Bono Scholars also have the opportunity to interact with attorneys in the office during training sessions, lunches and social outings.
Like other Akin Gump summer associates, in their second summer at the firm, Pro Bono Scholars have an opportunity to work on substantial pro bono matters in addition to assignments in other practices. We expect that, should the Pro Bono Scholars join the firm as attorneys, they will be leaders in our pro bono practice while still maintaining a full workload in their practice. Our former Pro Bono Scholars have taken the lead on interesting pro bono matters, from helping a charter school develop to litigating on behalf of Washington, D.C.’s taxi drivers challenging unfair cab regulations.