One New Zealand Law School’s New Hourly Requirement for Graduation

While mandating lawyers to participate in or report pro bono is a hotly debated topic these days, requiring law students to engage in pro bono has been more widely accepted in the U.S. A number of law schools require students to complete a certain number of hours of pro bono service before graduating. And as The PBEye previously reported, New York state recently implemented a rule which took effect on January 1, 2013, requiring prospective attorneys seeking admission to the bar to have first performed 50 hours of “law-related” pro bono service.

Jumping across the world to New Zealand, starting in 2015, the University of Canterbury Law School will implement a 100 hours of practical experience requirement for graduation, one which students can satisfy through either pro bono or paid work. As the law school’s dean, Dr. Chris Gallavin, has noted, the justice gap in New Zealand is “off the charts;” the pro bono dimension of this requirement will contribute to addressing this gap. In addition, The PBEye notes that pro bono work by students can develop them into higher quality recruits for employers, armed with practical experience such as schedule management and interacting with real world clients, a view Dr. Gallavin shares. Based on the “Harvard model,” graduation ceremonies at the University of Canterbury Law School will formally recognize students in two higher tiers: those who do more than 400 hours and those who do more than 750 hours of pro bono work. Such significant hourly targets set high expectations for students.

The PBEye is excited to follow this new development in pro bono work and its implications for increasing pro bono service in New Zealand.