Cooley operates many programs that offer free legal assistance to people who cannot afford or who would not otherwise fund such work.
Cooley faculty and students regularly contribute hundreds of thousands of hours of free legal service per year to pro bono projects and through externships and clinics. It is the breadth and quantity of free legal assistance offered by dedicated faculty who are not required to do such work and are not compensated in any way for doing it, and by students who undertake such work in many cases for no academic credit, through creative partnerships with agencies, shelters, courts, and bar associations, that distinguish Cooley's efforts.
Thirty-seven programs ranging from helping hurricane victims, to helping soldiers, seniors, the homeless, and foreclosure victims.
In 2012, our students dedicated 98,011 hours to providing free legal service to indigents, the underserved, and the deserving. And within that group of clients, Cooley students worked 11,333 hours for no academic credit.
When combined with hours worked in clinics and externships, through which students also provide free legal assistance, total hours of free legal assistance offered by Cooley in 2012 was 458,056. Billed at an average rate of $150/hour, the value of that work is almost $69 million.
Notably, students worked 60,905 hours beyond what was required for academic credit in just their externships. Combined with the 11,333 hours worked through our pro bono programs, also not for academic credit, Cooley provided a total of 72,238 hours of pro bono assistance and free legal work through their externships for no academic credit.
Cooley's pro bono program for deployed and returning military personnel has assisted hundreds of Michigan troops with civilian legal matters since its inception.