Apply to the Pro Bono Scholars Program

Applications will open in early June 2022; an email will be sent to all 3L students. The application must be received no later than Sunday, July 24, 2022. There is a rolling admissions process that will maximize the availability of placement options; the sooner accepted, the sooner students can apply for placements. The program generally accepts up to 12 students.

For further information about application submissions, a recording of the information session for the program can be viewed here.


Info Session June 7, 2022 12-1 pm ET
Rolling Admission Early June TBA—July 24
Select and Finalize Placements July 1—September 15
  • June-September 2022: Law schools select students for the Program; students will work with the law school faculty member to identify an appropriate placement.
  • September – October 17, 2022: Law school will approve placement and send the application and materials to the PBSP for final acceptance into the Program.
  • October 28, 2022: Final deadline for law student and provider to commit to participate in the PBSP.
  • November 1-30, 2022: Selected students will submit their application to take the February bar exam.
  • February 21-22, 2023: Students will take the bar exam.
  • February 27, 2022-May 20, 2022: Students will work full-time in their pro bono placements.

Peggy Cross-Goldenberg is teaching the PBSP next year. Until further notice, please reach out to Liliana Vaamonde, [email protected], with any questions. 

The application consists of one PDF document containing, in this order:

1.     A current resume;

2.     A personal statement of no more than five double-spaced pages that includes discussion of:

  • The applicant’s reasons for wanting to participate in the PBSP, particularly around issues of professional development and identity as well as public service. This should include the applicant’s ideas about what type of externship placement the applicant would like to consider and may include a discussion of specific placements.
  • The applicant’s readiness for the PBSP, with particular attention to previous life and work experiences, law school classes and activities, and other relevant preparation; and,
  • Interest in pursuing a public interest or service career or committing to substantial pro bono service while working in the private sector;

3.     A statement that the applicant (on the attached form found here:…):

a.     Understands that an applicant to Columbia’s PBSP is bound to participate in the program in its entirety, for its full semester duration upon acceptance, and that no withdrawal from the program will be permitted;

b.    Has had a conversation with an academic advisor to be assured that the applicant has sufficient experiential credits remaining to fulfill the ABA and Columbia requirements for graduation;

c.     Has registered for or has completed the Major Writing requirement;

d.    Has met with a staff member in the Financial Aid Office for applicants interested in discussing bar loan options; and

e.     Has or will have completed the required Professional Responsibility credits by the end of Fall 2022 semester.

f.      A copy of the applicant’s Columbia Law School transcript (unofficial transcript from LawNet is acceptable).


Selection will be based upon the candidate’s:

a.     Statement of interest in and learning goals for the externship, including all of the components listed above for the personal statement;

b.     Preparation through classes, employment or other activities or experiences for shouldering this significant obligation;

c.     Skill set and demonstrated professional responsibility readiness.

Following a review of the application and, in some cases a discussion with the incoming faculty member/supervisor or the Director of Externships and Field Placements, Liliana Vaamonde, a determination will be made whether the applicant is ready for the PBSP. Applying for the program alone will not guarantee acceptance. If an applicant is not accepted, Ms. Vaamonde will discuss with the applicant recommendations for other experiences for the applicant to pursue during the 3L year.